People are often surprised when the cause of their migraine, skin rash, or elevated cholesterol is a food sensitivity. The digestive system is not always the primary place where food allergies reveal themselves. Other organ systems like the skin, nervous system, and cardiac system can more swiftly respond to inflammatory reactions before digestive tissue becomes irritated. In chronic conditions, our bodies can endure a disorder for years. For example – it takes 40-70 years of daily cigarette smoking for chronic lung disease or cancer to manifest (American Lung Association).
Skin conditions like eczema are frequently related to food triggers. In 2015, The Clinical Journal for Experimental Allergy reported in a cohort study that infants with eczema were 11 times more likely to have food intolerances. The most common food intolerances associated with eczema are gluten and dairy, which are two common first-foods introduced to infants.
Dairy is a base for many formulas and is often encouraged by pediatricians as a source of calcium. Unfortunately, the inflammatory nature of milk likely creates more malabsorption than actual nutrient support. Even though skin is flared, look to the diet for the inflammatory cause.
Migraines and headaches have been long-associated with food triggers. The Journal of Neurological Sciences published a study that found 60 percent of the migraines they assessed to be associated with food intolerances. However, many people with migraines will not report digestive upset.
Elevations in LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and blood pressure are also linked to inflammatory diets. With a reduction in inflammatory foods, much like eliminating smoking and alcohol, LDL will also decrease. Dietary cholesterol is less impactful on your body’s total cholesterol than dietary inflammation. Blood pressure is also involved in that inflammatory reaction, and will also lower with an anti-inflammatory diet.
You do not have to have Celiac Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or Crohn’s Disease to suffer the consequences from an inflammatory diet. Many people misconceive that if they are not having gastrointestinal distress, their particular diet must be fine for them. However, people who have digestive symptoms (gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, pain) are actually well informed by their body.
It is important that patients be honest with their practitioners about their eating habits when having issues so that diet can either be ruled out or looked into as a possible culprit. If you are curious about inflammatory diets and gut health in general, Peoples regularly has diet-focused events in our seminar series. Check out these upcoming events this summer:
Gluten Free/Dairy Free Easily
May 2 at 6pm
Thyroid, Adrenals, and Fatigue: Elimination
May 10 at 7pm
Ketogenic vs. Paleo
June 6 at 6pm
Amy Nelson, ND* received her Naturopathic Doctorate from the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR where she studied nutrition, homeopathy, herbal and functional medicine. In addition, Dr. Nelson was the Associate at The IBS Treatment Center in Santa Monica where she treated irritable bowel syndrome and complex food allergies. Dr. Nelson utilizes her experience in natural medicine to address female and male hormonal imbalances, mental health, and digestive disorders.
*Naturopathic Doctors are not currently licensed in the state of Texas.