Many of the individuals at Central Athlete have the common value of continual growth. For some, that means working towards increased performance inside the gym and for others, it means using health and fitness as a means of self-improvement outside the gym: improving overall health, increasing energy and mental acuity, having more patience at home and becoming more productive in the workplace, etc. Regardless of your unique goals and aspirations, understanding food intolerances is essential.
The main culprits are wheat/gluten, soy products, some dairy and processed fats and sugars. These are the foods that many individuals who are deep into their health and performance journey will eliminate first.
Every person reacts to foods differently and even foods that appear “healthy” could be wreaking havoc on your body, thus interfering with health, performance, sleep, productivity and more. This is why understanding your body, improving awareness and engaging in food-intolerance testing can be extremely beneficial to ensure you are fueling your body appropriately and creating an optimal internal state.
The first step is gaining awareness around your nutrition and your body. The best way to do this is through food logging. This creates intentionality around what you are eating, how much, and more importantly, how you feel after consuming various types of foods. It is common for people to move through life in an automated state, and symptoms that are obvious signs of distress are often ignored.
If you have already eliminated the main culprits above and practice proper food hygiene but are still experiencing any of the following symptoms, even in the slightest, you may want to do more investigation into your nutrition.
- Joint pain
- Inability to pay attention
- Mood alterations
The most effective way to determine which types of foods your body is sensitive to is by following an autoimmune paleo diet for four to six weeks, followed by a reintroduction protocol. During this protocol it is important to reintroduce one item at a time over the course of 72 hours. IgE (Immunoglobulin E) are antibodies produced by the immune system and cause an immediate reaction, whereas IgA (Immunoglobulin A) are antibodies that produce a more delayed hypersensitivity that can surface anywhere from 24 to 72 hours later. This is why it is extremely important to wait 72 hours before introducing another item into your routine.
This is a slow process but a highly educational one as you’ll not only understand which foods your body is sensitive to, but also you will gain a deeper understanding on how they affect your body specifically. Does a specific food cause GI issues or aching joint pain, does it interfere with your effectiveness and mental acuity in the workplace, does it cause mood irregularities, etc? All of these are telltale signs that there is a negative reaction occurring in the body. Be sure to keep a detailed journal (even logging free samples!) to keep track of what food you are introducing and any symptoms you experience.
If the autoimmune paleo diet has not cleared up these symptoms, the next phase is following a low FODMAP diet. The term FODMAP is an acronym, derived from "Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols," which are short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine.
For those not willing to undergo weeks of the reintroduction protocol but are curious which foods could be interfering with their ability to reach an optimal state, the next step is food intolerance testing. Below are a few that we recommend and have personally used in the past.
- ALCAT (antigen leukocyte antibody testing)
- MRT (Mediator Release Test)
- IgG (immunoglobulin-G)
If you value health and fitness but are looking for more guidance in a holistic manner that will take you to the next level—whether that is improving performance inside the gym or using fitness as a vehicle to support your highest priorities outside the gym—Central Athlete can help. Click the link below to talk to a coach to see if personalized fitness is right for you!
The Differential Diagnosis of Food Intolerance
Causes, Symptoms and Prevention of Food Allergy
Debates in Allergy Medicine: Food Intolerance Does Exist