I had studied food intolerances prior to enrolling in my doctoral program, which required me to choose a specialty (sugar addiction).
Many books on the topic start with reactions in food before moving on to chemicals in our homes and workplaces, gasoline fumes, and other topics. Even though they are significant, they have nothing to do with nutrition.
The connection between food intolerances and addiction has always piqued my interest.
I recently “attended” a webinar by J.J. Virgin, whose first book, I believe, was about eliminating foods that cause food intolerances in order to improve health and lose weight. My interest in food intolerance and addiction was rekindled by the webinar.
Chocolate, corn, soy, wheat (or other gluten-containing foods), peanuts, dairy, eggs, and sugar and other sweeteners are common food intolerance triggers.
How Does Intolerance to Food Look?
Headaches and migraines, joint pain, fatigue, sleepiness, heart palpitations, depression, irritability, stomach pain, bloating, and a variety of other signs and symptoms are all possible.
The effects of an intolerance can occur virtually anywhere in the body because digested food moves through the bloodstream.
A rash, for example, may occur every time the food is consumed.
Alternately, the reactions may vary, such as a rash that does not itch one time and a rash that does not itch at all the next.
The response may be aggregate. It’s possible that a small amount of the food does not cause an allergic reaction; however, eating the same portion again later that day or for several days in a row does.
Another possible response that could emerge over time is addiction.
What Causes Intolerances to Food?
There are numerous reasons, but let’s keep things simple.
A genetic intolerance or predisposition to it is one factor.
We can develop into intolerances to foods we consume frequently or in large quantities. When you eat too much of a certain food, the enzymes needed to digest it are used up, preventing complete digestion.
As a result, food particles that haven’t been properly digested might travel through the digestive system and into the bloodstream, triggering an immune response. There are no nutrients in the unabsorbed, undigested food.
We can also become reactive to a food that we eat alongside another food that triggers our reactions. As a result, the list of foods that trigger symptoms may grow, eventually leading to malnutrition.
Food reactions may change over time Homeostasis is the body’s guiding principle.
The body tries to get back to homeostasis by getting rid of a trigger food when it first eats it. By attaching antibodies to the food that has only been partially digested while it is in the intestine, it prevents absorption. That could get rid of the food before it gets into the bloodstream.
Inflammation may occur if the food does enter the bloodstream. The body may quickly return to homeostasis after a brief acute reaction.
The body adapts if a person continues to consume a trigger food over time. The immune system may respond more slowly or less effectively. It’s possible that the reaction is now manifesting more slowly than the acute reaction. Sometimes, signs or symptoms last for hours or even days.
How does that become an addiction to food?
When a food triggers the immune system, stress hormones, opioids like endorphins (beta-endorphins), and chemical mediators like serotonin are released. Through the analgesic effects of endorphin and serotonin, the combination can temporarily alleviate symptoms, elevate mood, and induce relaxation.
In like that, eating the setting off food might cheer somebody up very quickly and even think the food is gainful.
Dopamine is typically released simultaneously with endorphin release. Serotonin and those two brain chemicals form what I’ve always referred to as the “addictive package.” Refraining from eating could result in withdrawal.
After using for a long time, a person might eat the food that triggered them, not to get the pleasure of the chemical “high,” but to get rid of the distress and withdrawal they were experiencing without it. It’s almost an addiction to textbooks.
How is health affected by intolerance or addiction?
The immune system must continue to adapt as an addict to a triggering food consumes more of it; as a result, it may become hypersensitive and react to more and more foods, particularly those consumed in conjunction with triggering foods or sugar.
Depending on genetic weaknesses, the constant demand placed on the immune system may result in immune exhaustion and degenerative reactions. The aforementioned symptoms are only the beginning.
Because it makes the body more susceptible to food reactions and causes inflammation, sugar may play a significant role in this. Consuming foods that trigger reactions as well as sugar can increase the likelihood of new reactions.
I recall reading in a book by Nancy Appleton that eggs may cause reactions in many people due to their frequent consumption with orange juice at breakfast. Another example is cake: wheat, sugar, eggs, and milk together.
Cravings arise as addictions persist, leading to increased consumption. As previously stated, malnutrition may occur as a result of the increasing number of foods that elicit an immune response.
According to statistics, food intolerance rates are rising. My theory is that at least some of it is because of the sugar in our diets, including sneaky sugars like agave, fruit, fruit juice, and sweeteners that are often thought to be good for us.
Stopping the Cycle Give up any foods you think might be making you sick, even if you like them. Consider the foods you frequently consume with those triggering foods and consider eliminating those as well. Avoid sugar above all else.
For three weeks, adhere to this plan as recommended by J.J. Virgin.
You might want something in the meantime. If this is the case, my tried-and-true recommendation of one teaspoon of liquid B-complex (complete B-complex) will quickly satisfy your craving.
You should look and feel much better after the three-week elimination.