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Allergies, Sensitivities, Intolerances: All About Food Reactions
With Samantha McKinney, RD
Season 6, Episode 19 | April 11, 2023
Adverse reactions to many foods are on the rise, and while allergies are often more easily identifiable, sensitivities and intolerances typically are not. Regardless, they can all cause troubling effects in the body. Samantha McKinney, RD, explains the differences between food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances, what the common food offenders are, how to spot signs of a reaction, and — in the case of the latter two — why those signs are often symptoms but not the root cause.
Samantha McKinney, RD, CPT, is the national program manager for Life Time’s digital weight-loss and training programs.
There are three primary categories of food reactions: allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances. McKinney thinks of them in the buckets of immune and nonimmune reactions — allergies and sensitivities cause an immune-system response, while intolerances do not.
- Food allergies: These involve IgE antibodies. McKinney explains that you can think of the “E” as standing for “emergency,” as allergies cause rapid and dangerous reactions. They can occur immediately or within a few hours, and trigger a significant response by the body, such as trouble breathing or hives. In some people, a food allergy can result in anaphylaxis.
- Food sensitivities: These involve IgG antibodies. Reactions in this category are milder — such as digestive issues, skin troubles, brain fog, and joint pain — and are more delayed; some can take as long as three days to present. This can make sensitivities challenging to pinpoint.
- Food intolerances: These occur when it is physically hard for your body to break down a food, and typically cause digestive distress. The most common example is lactose intolerance, in which someone can’t digest and breakdown milk sugars.
Outside of these categories, there are also other food reactions people can experience. For instance, some people react to high-histamine foods, while others react to FODMAPS. There are also people who experience psychological or psychosomatic symptoms to foods that can cause real physical symptoms.
Additionally, there are autoimmune reactions, such as celiac disease, or more obscure responses like developing a problem with digesting meat following a tick bite.
- Allergy, Sensitivity, or Intolerance? A Guide to Food-Reactivity Issues
- What Is Inflammation? With Gregory Plotnikoff, MD
- Taking Care of Your Gut: Why It’s Critical + How to Do It With Samantha McKinney, RD
- What Is Leaky Gut?
- How to Heal a Leaky Gut
- Taking on the Allergy Epidemic
- Is an Elimination Diet Right For You?
- What Do Food Sensitivity Test Results Really Mean?
- Life Time’s In-App D.TOX Program
- Life Time’s GUT.FIX program
- Life Time’s Digestive Enzyme Complex
- Life Time’s L-Glutamine
- Life Time’s Probiotic
- Samantha McKinney’s Life Time Talks episodes on blood sugar, magnesium, coaching questions, thyroid health, metabolism, and 1-2-12 nutrition system
- Samantha McKinney’s articles on ExperienceLife.Lifetime.Life
- @samantha_rdn on Instagram
- Take Your Pick: Which Life Time Digital Weight Loss and Coaching Program Is Right For You?
Life Time Nutrition Coaches provide professional guidance and create a personalized plan to help you feel your best.
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Transcript: Allergies, Sensitivities, Intolerances: All About Food Reactions
Season 19, Episode 19 | April 11, 2023
Welcome to Life Time Talks. I’m Jaime Martin.
And I’m David Freeman.
And in this episode, we are talking about food reactions, food allergies, food sensitivities, food intolerances. Adverse reactions to food are on the rise. And it can be really hard for people to identify. So we have one of our most frequent guests back on with us. Samantha McKinney is here again.
Sam is a dietician trainer and coach for over 15 years. At first, her interest and career experience were in highly clinical settings in the medical field, which ended up laying the foundation for an understanding of metabolism as her true passion for preventive health and wellness. And how that’s all evolved.
So Sam started with Life Time in 2011. And she’s currently serving as a national program manager for Life Time’s digital weight loss and training program. So Sam, thanks for coming back again.
Thanks for having me. It’s good to see you guys.
Consistency. I know you’re big on consistency. And you’ve been here consistently for a reason. Obviously, you always have some great content. So second most frequent behind Paul Kriegler.
Of course, that Coach Paul.
I just want to know, how are you going to round out this competition? Are you going to end up being number one or are you OK with him leading the way?
I’m OK with Paul leading the way. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s seasoned. He’s Coach Paul for a reason. I’ve learned a lot from Paul. So you know what? Take it home Paul. But if you guys want to sneak me in for a while I’ll take it.
We’re on it.
So Sam as we said at the top of the episode, we’re talking about food reactions today. And there are a number of different things that can fall into this category. So let’s talk through the three distinct categories that fall into what could be considered food reactions.
Yes. There are a couple. So how I like to think about it immune reactions and non-immune reactions. Within immune reactions, there are two notable ones to talk about. So total it’s like immune 1, immune 2, and then not immune. That’s the easiest way to think about it.
So your immune system is really complex, and it’s designed to have both specific and nonspecific reactions to invaders, and in this case, food. So one immune response is a really rapid one. It’s a more dangerous one. It’s an allergy. And that is IgE reactions. It’s easy to remember because I always use that E designation as emergency.
And so that’s typically where your immune system very rapidly sometimes immediately, sometimes within a few hours develops a strong response. And this could be hives. This could be trouble breathing. It’s something that requires an EpiPen. So it’s pretty significant, and it can be pretty scary.
The second immune reaction is more delayed and oftentimes it’s more mild. And that’s an IgG reaction. And that’s what’s typically considered a food sensitivity. Now there’s a lot of debate in the medical world and even the wellness world of what exactly is a food sensitivity. So hopefully, I can help sort out some of the mindset there today.
And then the last one is an intolerance. And so this is anything that can actually make it physically hard for a food to break down in your body. So it causes a lot of digestive symptoms. The most common example that most people have heard of is lactose intolerance when you cannot digest and break down milk sugar because you’re missing an enzyme to do that.
Then there’s a whole bucket of other ones too. It gets a little bit confusing of just ways your body can react to food. Sometimes people react to high histamine foods. Sometimes people react to FODMAPs, which is a type of carbohydrate that they have trouble breaking down. That could fall into the intolerance category.
There are psychological or psychosomatic reactions to foods too that can cause really real physical symptoms too, which is kind of wild. Whenever you think about it, there’s autoimmune like celiac. And then there’s even some obscure ones, like people can develop a reaction to meat after they’ve had a tick bite.
I’ve heard of that.
But generally it’s easiest for the general wellness community to think about IgE allergy, IgG sensitivity, and intolerance.
Alright, I love it. So we’re going to be able to unpack the allergy, the sensitivity, or the intolerance. So let’s talk about some of the most common. I know you mentioned like milk, for example. What are some other most common foods that we might see people have issues with, whether it’s allergy, sensitivity or intolerance?
I think most people aren’t surprised that whenever it comes to allergies those are on the rise. I think more people carry EpiPens than several generations ago that have needed it. And I would say the most common foods there would be things like tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, wheat, dairy, eggs. There’s even sesame soy in there. Those are common ones.
And a lot of the common sensitivities overlap quite a bit with those. But I’d say more commonly, there we’ll see the two different milk proteins. So there’s like casein and whey. There are two separate ones. There’s gluten. Soy is a big one there. Egg. And in fact, sometimes egg white more than egg yolk is really common there. Peanut, corn. It’s so individualized. But I would say that there’s a lot of top culprits as you can see that can round out the list.
So with the food sensitivities in particular, you mentioned that with food allergies, those are almost immediate reactions that have happen. From everything that I’ve read and that we’ve covered in the magazine, food sensitivities tend to be more delayed. So they can be hard to then pinpoint what you’re reacting to. Let’s talk about that.
Sensitivities they could be immediate, but the majority of the time those types of reactions are more systemic. And I guess that’s the wrong way to put it because allergies are systemic too. They’re just rapid, and they’re more severe. But sensitivities can happen up to three days after you eat the food.
So if you’re having a ton of brain fog and you can’t focus and it’s a Friday, you don’t immediately think like, well, what did I eat for breakfast on Wednesday? It’s a little bit tougher to sort of pinpoint with a food log or a food tracker or a food diary, but those are still incredibly useful. But they can be pretty tough to pinpoint, but there is a way and a system you can follow to start to figure things out.
So on top of that, what are some of the symptoms or signs that you’re adversely reacting to food?
Yeah, so there’s obvious ones. Digestive symptoms where– well, actually that might not actually be super obvious to most people, so let me start there. It is not normal, and it’s shocking, and it’s heartbreaking how many people normalize their digestive symptoms.
Like oh it’s common to have– it’s not common or it’s not right to have diarrhea a couple of times a week. It’s like, no. Going to the bathroom regularly, so you should be having one to three regular bowel movements a day. If that’s not happening and you’re constipated, it could be food reaction. Bloating lots of digestive discomfort or distress even heartburn, those localized things.
But the systemic ones are where it gets tricky. People don’t realize the connection between food reactions and mood and just overall mindset. Sometimes they don’t necessarily recognize the reactions between food and behavior. So it can impact just how you behave or how agitated you are, how much patients you do or don’t have, which is wild.
Skin is another big one, so skin reactions. This could be rosacea, acne, blotchiness, redness, rashes all those types of things. And then even joint pain. Sometimes people struggle with chronic pain ends being a food reaction. I actually remember one client that I had, gosh, probably over 10 years ago now. She’s seeing specialists after specialists. She’s a young mom, three kids, really fit just hip problems, could not figure it out, corrective exercise, all of it ended up being soy.
Yeah. And she gave up soy. And after a year of struggling with it, it was gone within a couple. So again it’s just things that people don’t realize are connected to food.
I was in a meeting recently and a leader within the group that was in the room was talking about how he’d been experiencing some joint pain. And so he decides like he tried everything. He was going to go to the doctor all this. He ended up taking gluten out of his diet and his joint pain resolves within a couple of days.
Time and time again.
So interesting how all that can happen. You can try some of these things. It doesn’t sound always effective, but it was an interesting example.
And what’s tricky is that all of those symptoms I listed off can be multifactorial. They can have a lot of different causes. So I’m not suggesting, hey, you give this up and this is going to go away, but it’s possible. As soon as you said that, I thought of another client that I had that really struggled a lot with mental health concerns and depression. And for her gluten was the culprit too. It’s a whole journey of self-discovery and figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t.
You mentioned the signs and the symptoms and then going to what the causes could be. So if we now focus on some of the common root causes that we see in this space, and I know it’s so many different variables that go into that. But what are some common root causes since you’ve been in this space 15 plus years that you’ve seen when you see these food reactions?
That’s probably going to be my favorite question of the entire episode mainly because people do demonize the food and the food reaction itself. And that’s rarely the root issue. You should tolerate a wide variety of foods. Exactly what David said while these foods can cause very real symptoms, your reaction to the food is a symptom of something else.
It’s like digging deeper. So, gosh, it can be a lot. So it can be as simple as first and foremost, what is your overall diet nutrition look like. So what you eat on a regular basis dictates the good gut bacteria versus the bad gut bacteria in your GI tract. And what specific species are flourishing, absent and present.
So if you’re not eating a wide variety of foods, you’ll have less diverse of a population of gut bacteria. You’re going to be more likely to have food reactions. That’s also part of the reason why people rapidly change their nutrition, why they have so much digestive distress because they don’t have the bacteria to handle the light switch change that they just did.
Secondly, alcohol. So alcohol is a big one. It can cause a lot of disruption and that can really create just an underlying situation where your body’s not going to react well because we’re damaging the digestive lining.
Another one is stress. Stress is probably the biggest one for a multitude of reasons. So we’ve heard of leaky gut and gut issues. And so if the intestinal lining becomes permeable, you’re more likely to have food reaction. And so intestinal permeability is a big one, but it’s a huge contributor to that is stress. I can’t tell you how many people that I’ve worked with that have had ongoing gut issues and have literally done everything under the sun, and it was stress management that got them over the hump.
Because if you think about how your nervous system works– I know I’m getting long winded with the answer–
If you think of how the nervous system works, you have the sympathetic side and the parasympathetic side. Sympathetic is fight or flight. Parasympathetic what’s it called? Rest and digest. So if you’re constantly in fight or flight, you physically neurologically are never in the parasympathetic rest and digest state. So you’re more likely to overreact to food. So your stress, it’s a nonstarter. It has to be managed or else your gut health is going to suffer.
Another one is added sugar. So this kind of goes back to the good to bad bacteria in your gut. There’s a lot of cool research coming out about that. I think that we’re just on the fringe of beginning to understand it as much as we already know. What we do know is that a diverse population of gut bacteria throughout the digestive lining in your large intestine, I should say, is really important for overall health. Added sugar, of course, feeds the not so helpful critters that can help you overreact to foods the wrong way.
And then there are things that aren’t in our direct control such as changes in our food supply. The fact of the matter is you look at what we’re eating, even if you’re the healthiest eater in the world, it’s a different plateful of food than it was several generations ago. So we change how we grow foods. We change what herbicides and pesticides. We use we change how it’s processed. We change the packaging that it’s in. Some foods come in like BPA lined. Food packaging, those types of things.
They can’t, yes.
Yes. And it all adds up. There’s so much debate right now about what are toxins and toxins that we’re exposed to and how does it impact health. It’s a huge thing. There’s a lot of proponents out there that will say, oh toxins, it’s like the boogeyman. These are all proven and these doses to not be–
Think about over years and decades and the cumulative effect of everything we’re exposed to. So no, it’s not just a pesticide or a herbicide, but it’s that in conjunction with the off gassing in the new car that you had or the new house that you just built plus the body lotion you use this morning, plus the plug-in you put in the car, plus the glass cleaner that you used at home. It’s just–
One thing on top of the other.
It’s a snowball effect. And to say that has absolutely no bearing or impact on our health, I think is a little bit misguided. So it’s everything really put together. And then lastly, and this is where it starts to get tricky, but I wouldn’t jump here is, there are a lot of people struggling with gut infections that they actually need some functional medicine approaches to overcome.
Surprisingly, it makes people squeamish, but parasitic infections are really common in today’s society or even just exposure to things like water damage buildings and mold. That type of stuff can be a root cause, but I don’t say that to be alarmist. I wouldn’t jump right there because chances are you’re probably eating too fast and not chewing and stressed out and that will get you most of the way there.
So that was a lot I know but–
That was good. You unpack a lot of that and then give people a perspective. And they might have had like, oh, that sounds like me. I wrote down the few, the sugar, the stress, the alcohol, and obviously just ended with mold and other things that might be in their setting. So that was awesome.
So you were leaning into gut health there a little bit. Obviously, there’s a connection between food reactions and gut health. So let’s talk about that more. I wrote down. I had a note that gut lining that you’re talking about. It’s very thin.
And so when you start having reactions that gut lining is damaged, it can break pretty easily. It’s thin. And then those food particles escape out into your bloodstream, right?
Yes. So think of it this way. And this is not physiologically accurate. I think I might have mentioned this in another episode. This is helpful in terms of understanding concepts. With clients, I try to explain to them that in a way, your entire digestive tract is kind of external to the rest of your body.
And what I mean by that is think about something can go in your mouth and get processed and come out the other end. Your immune system, there are estimates that say 70% of your immune system is in your gut because if you think about it, we’re not eating and drinking sterile foods. This is our biggest exposure to the outside world is what we’re eating and drinking along with our skin, of course. That’s another barrier.
So if you think about it, your immune system should be moderating all of that and being like, whoa, that’s an issue keep that in, so it can get expelled or oh, let’s absorb that into the system. So when there’s a breakdown in that barrier or that lining and things are sneaking through that they shouldn’t, your immune system is on overdrive and this is ultimately the culprit behind these immune driven reactions because it’s seeing things and particles and complexes that it’s not supposed to right. Those things should be fully broken down. So absolutely, and it can cause a lot of issues and inflammation. And it’s just not a physiologically optimal state of the body for sure.
You just said inflammation. So when we look at the connection between food reactions and inflammation, I know we have a whole episode on inflammation, within this season. So just understanding when we dive a little bit deeper into root causes, what we just talked about, understanding how information comes about and then how the food reaction run parallel with it. Can you speak a little bit about that.
Yeah. So you’ll hear people oftentimes argue against, oh, research shows dairy doesn’t cause inflammation or inflammation similar to just the concept of food reactions overall. There’s a lot that encompasses inflammation. You can’t test just one inflammatory marker after eating a certain food and just because it’s negative say like, oh, it doesn’t cause. You can’t rule it out that quickly.
There are studies that show that there is immune system activation for people against certain foods, specifically neutrophils will increase. And that can lead down an inflammatory pathway. Chronic inflammation, I should say, manifests in a lot of different ways. And this could be for some people, fluid retention. It could just be overall redness. It could be joint stiffness and just poor movement. It’s soreness in general.
So food reactions absolutely can contribute to inflammation. And feeling inflamed is one of the main things that people report that they’re free of once they figure out what they’ve been reacting to food as they’re determining that root cause and trying to get to the bottom of it.
Alright, so let’s talk about the testing aspect of it now. How can someone know whether they’re reacting to foods? I know it’s not always easy to test for whether it’s allergy, sensitivity, intolerance specifically.
No, it’s not. Let me preface with there’s no such thing as a perfect test. As you guys have heard from everything that I’ve been explaining, there are so many ways that your body can react to food. Every test has a methodology that it’s using. So it’s looking for a specific reaction. Just because you’re not having that specific reaction out of the 1,000 using– hyperbole, there are 1,000 ways you can react to food. It just means you don’t have that one.
So I’ll use, for example, sometimes people get a test done for celiac disease, which is actually it’s an autoimmune condition. You eat gluten and it causes massive amounts of inflammation. There’s a perfect example of that. They might do a celiac test. And it’s like, oh, celiac test was negative that means I can eat gluten. I’m like, whoa, not necessarily. It just means that you don’t have celiac disease, which is probably the most severe reaction to gluten.
When it comes to testing, I like using them as a guideline. Of course, gosh, if you’re having some of those severe reactions, you need to be working with an allergist and getting IgE testing done and make sure that you have an EpiPen and antihistamines or whatever you need to manage that.
Let’s assume that’s not the case and we’re just talking about these sort of under the radar type reactions. That’s where doing a sensitivity test like an IgG food sensitivity test can serve as a guideline, but it’s not an end all be all. And there’s a lot of popular ones in the market.
We offer one through Life Time and it’s great as a guideline. It’s part of the reason why it comes with a follow up explanation of what the reactions mean because what I notice is a lot of the tests that are offered out there for sensitivities, you just get a list of abnormal versus normal this list of foods. And that doesn’t really help anything. As you guys can see, it’s way more complex than that. It’s not just as simple as getting rid of those foods.
So we do ours a little bit differently. And then it comes with the real deal and the real story of what somebody’s supposed to do as part of a bigger picture of health. But I do like them as a guideline. Now just because something doesn’t flag on there doesn’t mean you necessarily don’t have an issue. If something does flag on there, it means you should maybe try eliminating it. Does that make sense?
And then ultimately, with the help of a guided coach or a practitioner doing an elimination diet can be really helpful because as long as you’re sticking with it 100% and keeping a food diary, eliminating certain foods and reintroducing them one at a time is so, so powerful because you actually see how that food impacts you for yourself. And the foods that you’re most afraid to give up, if let’s say that’s what’s been causing, in my example my client, chronic hip pain for a year. She was happy to give up soy. It just gives you a new perspective.
It brought relief. I have a quick follow-up question about the food sensitivity test because I have read or heard or who knows where it came from, but if you eat a certain food or if that’s been a part of your diet, is that more likely to flag potentially?
Yes. This is part of the reason why oftentimes in conventional medicine, they’ll say it’s not worth running a food sensitivity test. Well, it’s not worth in terms of finding something that’s emergent or serious or severe. And this is another example of what we do differently with ours at Life Time is we look at your total IgG reactions and really pinpoint what are the standouts and what are the total number of reactions. There’s a lot of things to consider when interpreting a test like that.
So because there’s no medical intervention there and some level of IgG reaction is normal, it’s a normal physiological process, that’s why sometimes people don’t recommend doing it. But that doesn’t mean that they have zero utility either. As with everything in life, there’s a gray area and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle.
I can just imagine a lot of the tough conversations of giving up something that is so close and near and dear to individuals as far as it could be cultural. It could be nostalgic. It could be a lot of different things. So you just said it’s this risk in the sense of like, I can continue to do it but then I now run the risk of continuing to be in pain. You were saying your client with soy and the hip pain. So how do you navigate through those conversations now that objectively that certain things are causing this issue, how do you have those type of conversations?
Yeah. That’s a tough one and an important one. And it kind of starts with before you even do the elimination diet honestly. So there’s a couple good mindsets to have in place is, number 1, whatever symptoms you’re struggling with, are you OK having those the rest of your life? That’s the first thing to ask yourself.
Number 2, is if you’re going to head into an elimination diet all that is a learning journey. You’re not locked into doing that the rest of your life. This is an exercise to get to know your body better and understand it better. So it doesn’t mean it’s forever. Let’s say you determine that you are reacting to a certain food. Guess what? It’s nobody’s choice but yours to continue whether or not you’re going to eat that. You get to decide if it’s worth it for you or not.
And again this isn’t the case with allergies that are life threatening. I’m talking about the sensitivities. I’m trying to think of a nostalgic food with soy, but let’s say that client the issue had been, I don’t know, gluten and there was some sort of holiday treat that her grandmother made every single year and her one issue was hip pain.
If the hip pain significantly impacts their quality of life and she doesn’t want to eat it, she’ll probably feel good about that decision. If the holidays come by and she’s like, bring on the hip pain because I need a slice of that, she can do that too. So it’s really just learning about yourself and discovering it.
And then on the flip side, because, and again we’re having this podcast because food reactions are on the rise, for the most common ones, we’re getting a lot more really cool substitutes for things. Just look at all of the dairy free substitutes and the recipes out there. And even compared to 10, 15 years ago when this was first starting to get attention just the quality and the taste of them have skyrocketed.
There’s a ton for those treats. I don’t recommend going gluten free, using a ton of gluten free products. But those treats are nostalgia or traditions or culture, there’s more and more substitutes available that feel like the real thing. So that’s the one upside of this being more popular is that it’s now a business for some companies. And they’re the business of making substitutes taste good.
So it’s actually palatable and you want more of it.
It is really a mindset because, David, you work with clients too so you know how much mindset just impacts somebody’s outcome in a big way. And I do notice that with clients that are having food reactions without some purposeful intent, the mindset sometimes out the gate can be kind of downtrodden. And I’m like, listen, you are on a discovery process and you’re going to come out the other side knowing your body and being empowered to what to do and how to feel your best self.
So Sam, if someone finds out whether through testing or they just suspect that they’re having some sort of reaction to food, where can they start with making some change?
Well, you both know what my favorite phrase is from past episode and it’s?
It depends. So totally depends on the person. Generally speaking, let’s start with some foundational things of where they’re supposed to start. Number 1, look at what your current diet has been. What’s your current nutrition plan looked like? How much are you eating that food or how often are you having the food that you’re suspecting your reaction to? At least start with that.
But the other big thing is look first and foremost at how you’re eating because this is all about an internal terrain and landscape issue. Like I mentioned, this is why is your body overreacting to a food. So figure out how fast was I eating? Was I eating on the run? Was I chewing thoroughly? Did I chug a bunch of water at mealtime, which actually is not great for overall digestion and food reactivity. So first address how you’re eating.
Second of all, and Jamie, you mentioned either through testing or just a suspicion, again, I would use testing to inform a broader elimination diet. So I wouldn’t necessarily– let’s say you did a test, and it came back that you were sensitive to dairy, for example. OK, great, let’s give up dairy.
What if you’re reacting to dairy and eggs and you just give up dairy? So you kind of end up on this goose chase of let me give up dairy and just eat my normal way. I feel a little bit better, but I still don’t feel good. I’m having digestive issues, skin issues. Alright, let me see if it’s eggs. So then you start eating dairy again and you start eating eggs. And you kind of feel the same. You’re like, it’s not dairy or eggs. At the end of the day, it’s both.
So it is starting with an elimination diet of the most common foods. And it depends on your symptoms and what your overall nutrition looks like. If you’re eating a lot of highly processed foods, if you don’t have a nutrient dense diet, if you’re not meeting your protein goals, if you’re not eating fruits and veggies and not taking care of yourself, we probably need to address some foundational things because, guess what? You’re going to continue to react to foods. Even if you’re 70, 80% there, then that’s where implementing an elimination diet can be super helpful and really informative.
That’s awesome. Well, all the listeners that’s a lot to react to all that. But seriously, Sam, is there anything else that you want to leave our listeners with before we do our mic drop moment that we might have missed?
Yeah, I would say a few things. If you are struggling with food reactivity, let’s hone in first and foremost on the foundational things. The foundational things are, how much of your food are you eating from home or from even a grocery store. Even if you’re making the best possible choices at a restaurant, I’m going to encourage you to continue to do that. But the food quality that’s generally used at restaurants, the types of oils they’re cooking things in, those are not necessarily going to serve you long term.
Of course, we all need restaurant foods here and there. We’re all on the run traveling, those types of things. But the bulk of your nutrition coming from there. First, make a concerted effort to figure out how to have more home cooked food. And that doesn’t have to be the fanciest recipes from scratch. It could be something really easy. It could be shredded chicken out of the slow cooker and sweet potato that you roast in the oven. It can be easy if it needs to be.
Secondly, I’ve mentioned this a few times, but to decrease food reactivity address how you are eating. This is endemic in our society that we’re eating on the run, we’re eating in our cars, we’re eating standing up in the sink. We’re not plating our foods and sitting down and chewing and connecting anymore. And that alone, your digestion starts with that first bite. That alone is going to, number 1, put you in that parasympathetic state where your body is ready to rest and digest.
Number 2 is going to slow you down and that first step and actually chewing and breaking down foods so that they’re less likely to cause a reaction lower in your GI tract starts in your mouth, so slow down. That’s the next thing. The next one is addressing food quality, which I mentioned already in terms of just trying to eat at home. If it’s in your budget and you can do more organic type foods great.
Do those have some approved pesticides and things on there? Sure. But they’re not going to have the synthetic ones. Ideally, and granted this is not within reach for most people, grow your own food. If you have a garden, eat out of there. And so that might be a little too pie in the sky, but again you understand the general sentiment is the better quality of your food, the less likely you’re going to react to it.
And then lastly is just try to consider a couple of key just general good gut supporting supplements that are appropriate for most people. So what I will say from my clients and what we’ve seen work across the board is a combination of three that tend to be appropriate for most. So the first one is digestive enzymes.
So, Jamie, you were talking about things breaking down on the GI tract and these foods sneaking through. The better we can break down foods while they’re in the GI tract, the less likely your immune system is going to see something that it doesn’t recognize and overreact. So your body already makes enzymes. But if you have high volume training, David, if you have as we age and if you’re under a lot of stress, your natural digestive enzyme levels go down, so you don’t digest foods as well.
And we can see this come to life. If you have a stressful event, how many times do people get oh, I have butterflies in my stomach or an upset stomach. There’s that direct connection. So digestive enzymes when taken with meals can be super helpful.
The next one that gut lining that we talked about that’s so important. That’s where an amino acid called glutamine can be beneficial. So sometimes bolstering that, your body does make some glutamine, but in times of excess stress or reaction or perhaps let’s say you’re on a caloric restriction, you might not be getting enough. So you need to bolster it a little bit.
And then lastly, like I mentioned, there’s a lot of research coming out about good bacteria and bad bacteria and all of that. But taking a broad spectrum probiotic for most people is appropriate. And so I like ones that are at least 30 billion CFU. The Life Time’s is a Multi Pro 30B, which I love. A lot of my clients have great results on that, but that little trio can sometimes be helpful too regardless of how you’re eating.
And when is it appropriate to seek professional help? Obviously, with emergent allergies, but what about sensitivities and things like that?
Let’s say you’ve done the core gut supplements. You’ve made a concerted effort for at least I’d say one to two months consistently of chewing well, just addressing your eating environment the best. You don’t have to be perfect. I think 80, 90% of the time. You’re addressing your eating environment. You’re slowing down. And you are eating nutrient dense foods. And you’ve let’s say, I would say you’ve eliminated gluten dairy, soy, corn, peanuts.
This food list might sound familiar. It’s part of what is mindfully eliminated on the Life Time detox program. There’s also a gut fix program that’s a little bit. It goes one layer deeper. But let’s say you’ve done those and you notice a difference. Remember, awesome, you’ve identified the foods that you’re reacting to, but that’s not the root cause yet.
So if you start to reintroduce foods and let’s say– and I like using examples because I think it brings it to life. Let’s say you do one of those elimination diets, and you’ve addressed all those things, and you’ve identified, hey, this one food causes me hip pain or causes me whatever, and I’m OK avoiding it. You’re probably OK. If you start to reintroduce foods and you’re like, I am reacting to a lot of things, there’s probably something going on.
And one of the most common things I see is SIBO or Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. And this is the one that drives people bonkers when it comes to food reaction because whether or not they know they have it, you tend to react to foods that are healthy like garlic, onion, broccoli, cauliflower. And they’re like, why am I eating healthy and my gut is a mess?
And I’m like, well, if you have that bacteria overgrowing in your small intestine they start to digest certain carbohydrates and cause a lot of bloating. And that is where you will need some sort of strategies to combat SIBO, which is oftentimes rooted in digestive enzyme insufficiency and excess stress and adrenal issues. So mind body that connection. It’s not a hokey thing. It’s a real physiological thing.
And then, of course, if it’s anything severe, gosh, if you’re experiencing daily symptoms, like you’re having diarrhea daily, you are in pain when you eat, that’s not OK, by no means normal. If it’s impacting your quality of life adversely, I’d start with professional help versus using that as a second resort.
If you’re just sort of chugging along and things just don’t feel right. I’m just trying to optimize stuff, but I’m OK and my quality of life isn’t suffering, you’re probably OK to do some tinkering on your own and then just use your own judgment as to when I can’t figure this out. I’m going to need someone to help me.
I think that’s a really good clarification. Thank you.
I think it’s time.
Ready for your–
Mic drop moment?
OK, here it is. One question thrown at you. We’ve been talking about food reactions. What is your food of choice that you love but does not necessarily agree with your body, but you still every now and then dabble with it?
So I’ve shared on previous podcasts. I have Hashimoto’s which for most people with Hashimoto’s, it’s a really common autoimmune condition. And it contributes to thyroid issues. I can’t have gluten. And again that’s even a mindset. The proper way to say that is, I choose not to have gluten. So I will say that’s the one food that doesn’t agree with me.
Now I am born and raised Polish. My parents are from Poland. I’m first generation. And if you know anything about Polish cuisine, it’s just a gluten bomb. You have to hear it in your head. But even with their accents my family is like, if you don’t eat bread, you’re going to starve. They don’t understand.
So I indulged once intentionally and I won’t do it again. And it was on, if you guys are familiar with pierogi are.
Yes, I am.
They’re essentially like a ravioli kind of thing. And man, it’s a staple around the holidays. It’s really nostalgic for me. And that was one of those moments exactly what you brought up, David. I had it and I was like, oh, this tasted amazing not worth it. If I could rank my energy on a scale of 1 to 10 for the next four days, I’m not exaggerating, it was a negative 2. I could barely get out of bed. I wasn’t in pain. I was just might as well have slept. It just wasn’t worth it.
If it’s the holiday time, you’re like, I’m going to miss out on this other time with people too–
Yes. Now I look at them and all I see is fatigue. So I’m like, nope.
Awesome. Well, thank you, Sam. Well, where can people find you outside of the podcast as far as on Instagram or any social outlets that you want to share.
My Instagram handle is Samantha_RDN. And I am a contributor on Experience Life. So you can find some of my articles there as well. And then just through Life Time, I support the programs that are found in the Life Time app for training and nutrition. So there’s a little bit of Sam and team through those as well.
Awesome. Well, Sam, thank you for coming back again. And we’ll see you again soon. I’m sure.
The race is on. Sam McKinney, Paul Kriegler who’s going to win?
TBD. Thanks for having me you guys.
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The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.