Food Intolerance Epidemic – Why Does It Happen, and Can It Be Treated?

True food allergies are very rare, but there seems to be a fast-growing number of people experiencing some type of food intolerance. Fatigue, bloating, diarrhea or other symptoms typically appear many hours after a meal, and this delayed response makes it hard to know exactly what caused the problem. Also, the fact that food intolerance won’t show on a regular food allergy test at the doctors office, results in a lot of misdiagnosed and overlooked cases.

While a food allergy results from an adverse immune response to a food protein, the cause of food intolerance is often said to be that the body for “various reasons” can’t digest the food properly.

Dr. Art Ayers did his PhD in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, and a lot of his research focuses on food intolerance, inflammation, and chronic disease. This is what Dr. Ayers has to say about food intolerance: “…food intolerance is based on missing bacteria in the the gut rather than inadequacy of human enzymes, e.g. lactase, or altered immune system. The vast majority of intolerance can be cured by changing the bacterial composition of the gut’s microbiological community, the gut flora, rather than attempting to accommodate a permanent deficiency.”

Studies show that symptoms of lactose intolerance are alleviated significantly after supplementation with yoghurt, probiotic supplements or kefir. Bacteria in these products have lactose digesting enzymes, and when they get a chance to grow in the gut they can transfer their genes to the bacteria on the lining of the gut. Persistence is key, and symptoms of intolerance persist until the gut flora adjusts.

Complex carbohydrates found in grains, vegetables, legumes etc. are fermented by gut flora, and when gut microbes lack the genes/enzymes needed to completely digest the food component, symptoms of intolerance occur.

In nature, vegetables are contaminated with species of f.ex. Clostridium and Bacillus bacteria which are vital for proper digestion and development of the immune system. When we spray soil and plants with man-made chemicals we damage the fragile ecosystem, and extensive washing or cooking also gets rid of the naturally occurring microorganisms clinging to food. Antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals, poor diet, excessive hygiene, and bottle-feeding also contribute to the rapid increase in food sensitivities.

Treating food intolerance

Dr. Art Ayers recommends a variety of sources of beneficial bacteria when treating food intolerance. Besides fermented foods and probiotics, Dr. Ayers is a strong proponent of minimally washed plants and plant products form the garden or farmers market. Prebiotics, soluble fiber that feeds the beneficial bacteria, will help good bacteria grow in the gut.

http://www.washingtonpost.com

http://coolinginflammation.blogspot.no/

Zhong Y, Huang CY, He T, et al. Effect of probiotics and yogurt on colonic microflora in subjects with lactose intolerance.
Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2006 Sep;35(5):587-91.

Almeida CC, Lorena SL, Pavan CR, et al. Beneficial effects of long-term consumption of a probiotic combination of Lactobacillus casei Shirota and Bifidobacterium breve Yakult may persist after suspension of therapy in lactose-intolerant patients.
Nutr Clin Pract. 2012 Apr;27(2):247-51. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

Hertzler SR, Clancy SM. Kefir improves lactose digestion and tolerance in adults with lactose maldigestion.
J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 May;103(5):582-7.

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