Author: Sherry L. Granader, Nutritionist
There are a variety of disorders that may show on the skin, such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea, to name a few. However they all start from an inflammatory reaction and most likely caused by foods eaten. Common skin problems can be caused by or made worse by the foods we eat as well as lifestyle choices. The question is: which food(s) are causing the chronic inflammation?
The first step in eliminating or reversing chronic inflammation is through eating whole and plant-based foods. Two of the most highly reactive foods on the planet are wheat and dairy products. Eliminating gluten and casein is the first step in reversing inflammation. Removing the suspected foods from your eating plan is one of the most efficient ways to determine the culprit.
There is continued debate as to what constitutes a food allergy, especially amongst the medical community. It can be complicated determining what happens in the body, especially when some reactions are immediate while others are delayed. A food allergy is when the body responds to an allergen found in the food you eat, forcing the immune system to attack it as if it was a foreign substance. Two of the most common foods that cause this reaction are peanuts and shellfish, producing hives, breathing difficulties, shock and death.
Other food allergies are less dramatic and develop over time, producing headaches, sneezing or a drippy nose. The top six foods that cause allergic reactions include:
- Seafood and shellfish
- Tree nuts
Food intolerances are quite different from food allergies because they typically create an immediate response from the immune system, typically to the protein in the food. A common intolerance is to ‘lactose’ where the body does not produce the enzyme called lactase and therefore cannot break down, digest or use the sugar found in dairy products. The immune system may not react right away but over time, food intolerances can cause inflammation and compromise the immune system.
Food sensitivities create a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, mainly inflammation that can appear in the skin. These sensitivities are from additives; fillers and preservatives added to foods which create a similar reaction to a drug or medication. Herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and bacteria can also contaminate food and bacteria in the gut, producing toxins that cause skin eruptions.
It doesn’t matter whether you have food sensitivity, allergy or intolerance; the end result is the same – inflammation throughout the body. In addition to inflammation, the following symptoms can also occur from all of the above:
- Pain in the joints, muscles and throughout the body
- Constipation, loose stools or both
- Hyperactivity disorders
- Ear infections
- Sinus congestion
- Fuzzy thinking
- Memory loss
- And more
One of the best ways to uncover food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities is through an elimination diet. Removing the most common reactive foods for at least a week or two and then reintroducing them back into the diet. It allows you to test the food exactly the way you are used to consuming it using the body to measure what works and what doesn’t.
It will also help to determine whether the symptoms are caused by diet or something else. The good news is that any symptoms may start to improve within a few days of eliminating the suspected food, giving the body and skin an opportunity to heal. Keep in mind it can take as long as several months to 5 years for the gut to heal completely.