Food sensitivities are a big deal and it seems the amount of people with food sensitivities are growing every day. Since many issues are linked to food sensitivities, food elimination seems to be the most common approach, but I think there's so much more to consider first.
How Food Elimination Works
A food elimination diet works by taking the foods out of the diet that seem to be causing digestive distress for a certain period of time and then working the foods back into the diet one at a time, noticing any change in digestion during the process. While this gives a person temporary relief, it doesn't really address the bigger issue... why can't this person digest and metabolize their food? In other words, what's the root of the problem.
My Experience With Dairy Intolerance
Years ago I believed I was intolerant to dairy, but looking back on it, I had a blood sugar handling issue. I'd been eliminating so many foods and I remember feeling like I needed to make a switch with my approach, but I wasn't sure where to go since the only recommendations about inflammation were to eliminate the foods that are causing you distress. Losing inches initially was great, because inflammation would go away, but I was still feeling fatigued and run down all the time. I felt like I was missing something, I wasn't feeling good anymore and had zero energy. I eventually had to come to accept that my approach wasn’t working for me anymore and it was time to make a change.
Could the issue be blood sugar?
Soon after I was introduced to Ray Peat’s research and it simply blew my mind. Mainly because his ideas about nutrition were so hard to wrap my head around and so completely opposite to what I'd learned about nutrition. I remember thinking I could eat dairy and sugar again, how liberating, but how does that work? After a while, his ideas started to make sense and I was soon compelled to try it out on myself.
I realized I'd had a blood sugar handling issue the whole time. It wasn't diary's fault, it was my body not being able to metabolize natural sugars very well for energy. I discovered when I eliminated sugar I felt a lot better at first and many of my issues subsided, but after a while I started to run out of energy, my metabolism slowed down( I lost muscle) and many of my issues came back. I didn’t gain weight per say, instead my digestive motility slowed down, I developed a small pooch (distended belly) and I was tired and depressed.
What I found...
According to Dr. Peat, food intolerance lab tests are a vague indicator of an actual food intolerance. Mainly due to the fact that your immunity responds to everything you're exposed to. Finding the particular antibodies to that substance actually means that you've become tolerant to that food, not the other way around. Because of this, most blood tests end up being a very poor indicator of a food intolerance.
Other Reasons For A Perceived Dairy Intolerance
According to Dr. Ray Peat, dairy’s not the problem, it’s the degradation of our food supply, and I tend to agree. If you’re eating toxic food with preservatives, there’s a greater chance you’ll end up with food allergies, sensitivities, bloating, gas, vitamin D deficiency, parasites, etc. Even if you’re eating organic you can still get some toxic preservatives that may irritate and inflame your body.
In Kate Deering's book, "How To Heal Your Metabolism", she states that it's a matter of the kind of dairy you choose which determines if you're intolerant or not. The culprit may actually be the preservatives and not the milk itself. One harmful allergen that's added frequently to dairy, almond and coconut milk is carrageenan. This preservative originates from seaweed and can cause digestive distress and inflammation. I also found carrageenan in foods like soy milk, ice cream and yogurt, it’s in just about everything.
Poor blood sugar regulation can be another reason for food intolerance. According to Dr. Ray Peat, you have the potential to be sensitive to just about any food when you're in a state of low blood sugar. A solution to a food sensitivity can be as simple as keeping your blood sugar more regular on a daily basis, by eating more frequently, slowing down (make mealtime sacred), calming the nervous system before meals and chewing your food. Breathing more mindfully (taking your breath in through the nose and expanding your ribcage and diaphram) and including a daily meditation practice can even improve your ability to digest your food.
dairy is a nutrient dense food
Dairy contains a balanced ratio of phosphorus (essential mineral for bone development) and calcium (needed for healthy bones, nerve function, blood clotting, muscle and heart contractions). According to Kate Deering, this is important because the ratio of phosphorus to calcium in dairy aids in calcium absorption and that's why including dairy in the diet is so important as you get older. Even more so since we're more susceptible to osteoporosis as we age. The good news is we can essentially side step this issue if we're absorbing calcium properly which dairy can provide.
Dairy's incredibly nutrient dense and a complete food, providing all three macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) your body needs to metabolize your food and keep your blood sugar regulated. Dairy contains magnesium, potassium, selenium and iron, vitamins A, B2, B12 K and D. These vitamins and minerals are all needed for a healthy fully functioning metabolism.
This superfood is worth reconsidering.
"How To Heal Your Metabolism", by Kate Deering pg.141-142