Food allergies reportedly affect over 50 million Americans, resulting in a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild digestive distress to severe anaphylaxis. While genetics may be the main contributor to food allergies, researchers still are not sure what specifically causes certain people to be more sensitive to foods than others. Early research suggests that food allergies may come from a leaky gut. Read on to learn more about leaky gut and how it might be contributing to your food allergies.
What is Leaky Gut?
Your intestinal lining plays an important role in the absorption of vitamins and minerals from your food into your bloodstream while acting as a barrier against toxins, undigested food particles, bacteria, and waste products. When your intestines experience excess damage, the tight junctions keeping the lining strong begin to thin, resulting in increased permeability, or a leaky gut. Increased intestinal permeability allows those toxins and otherwise harmful substances to enter your bloodstream, triggering the body’s immune response that may result in chronic inflammation and other issues.
Symptoms of a leaky gut can vary and may include:
- Digestive issues
- Skin problems
- General fatigue
In addition to these symptoms, a leaky gut may potentially result in food sensitivities.
Understanding Food Allergies and Sensitivities
Normally, when you consume food, it passes through your digestive system without any issues. When you have a food allergy, your immune system mistakenly identifies certain foods as threats (foreign invaders) and triggers an inflammatory reaction. The immune system releases immunoglobulin E, an antibody, to fight off the food allergen, but those antibodies and the chemicals they produce (known as histamines) end up causing damage to healthy tissue. The common symptoms of food allergies include:
- Tingling or itching sensations in and around the mouth
- Itching and hives
- Swelling in areas of the body
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Gastrointestinal issues (diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain)
- Trouble breathing
Severe food allergy reactions may even result in anaphylaxis, which presents life-threatening symptoms that include:
- Constricted airways
- Shock, resulting in a severe drop in blood pressure
- Rapid pulse
- Sudden loss of consciousness
The Role of Leaky Gut
When you have increased intestinal permeability, undigested food particles can enter your bloodstream more easily. Over time, food particles “leaking” into the bloodstream can confuse immune cells and trigger reactions to usually harmless foods, resulting in full-blown food allergies. The worst part is that food allergies may contribute to further inflammation in the gut, exacerbating leaky gut symptoms, which then results in further food sensitivities. This leads to a vicious, seemingly endless cycle.
Addressing Food Allergies Caused by a Leaky Gut
While avoiding foods that trigger your allergic reactions may be the simplest way to address your issues, that isn’t always the most practical solution, nor does it address your underlying leaky gut issues. If the gut lining is not healed and you develop additional food allergies, the number and variety of foods you can eat safely will be severely limited. Thankfully, with some changes to your diet and lifestyle, you may be able to heal your gut to reduce food allergies.
Get tested by a doctor to determine if you have food allergies and what your specific allergens may be. Identifying your food triggers is the best first step and can help you determine the right plan of action, as these are the foods you’ll want to avoid until your gut lining is repaired.
Probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich foods may help to repopulate your gut with beneficial bacteria and yeasts and rebalance your gut flora. While more research is necessary, several studies suggest that probiotics may play a role in regulate immune responses within the gut, which may have a direct impact on allergy triggers. Most importantly, studiesshow that probiotics may help to build up your intestinal lining, thereby reducing intestinal permeability and potentially preventing the leakage of food particles into the bloodstream.
Increase your fiber intake
Fiber is one of the most important dietary components to your overall health and wellbeing. Known to help the digestive process, dietary fiber comprises indigestible plant fiber. This also means that they cannot be broken down my stomach acids, instead traveling all the way to the gut, where bacteria can feed on it. Fiber essentially acts as fuel for your gut bacteria, allowing it to grow and thrive to diversify your microbiome.
Avoid inflammatory foods
More inflammation is never a good thing, and some foods may contribute to an already overactive immune response. Thankfully, most of the foods associated with greater inflammation are also foods generally considered unhealthy. This includes processed foods, foods high in refined sugar, trans fats, and excess alcohol.
Take bovine colostrum
Colostrum is a nutrient-rich substance referred to as “pre-milk”. Bovine colostrum may provide a variety of potential health benefits, and studies have found that oral supplementation was found to effectively reduce intestinal permeability in athletes. A pilot study also found that colostrum supplementation improved gut function and reduced gastrointestinal symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorders. This all suggests that colostrum may be beneficial for a leaky gut, which could in turn help to address allergy symptoms.
Maintain healthy mechanisms for dealing with stress
Chronic stress poses some serious issues for nearly all aspects of your health, including your gut and its response to food allergies. Studies show that psychological stress may actually induce intestinal hypersensitivity and permeability. Learning to cope with stress, whether that means breathing exercises, physical activity, meditation, or professional counseling, may play an integral role in managing a leaky gut and food allergies that have gone out of control.
While science has yet to fully determine the cause of food allergies and sensitivities, a leaky gut may be a primary contributor. If you want to address your food allergies and potentially reduce symptoms, consider trying Colostrum-LD® from Sovereign Laboratories.