Thursday, October 2, 2014

Food Intolerances, Allergies, and Stress: An Overview

Of all the stimuli that we’re constantly adapting to, whether well or not so well, food is without question the most significant.  Think about it: There’s nothing that we’re exposed to as frequently, as intimately, as long as, or as much as in shear bulk as food.  What’s more, food, namely natural food, is highly complex chemically.  As such, food, like any other potential stressor, can elicit reactions that are “maladaptive” and chronic exposure to a food to which a person is sensitive can cause the same conditions that are caused by chronic stress — rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid imbalances, ulcers, headaches, obesity, hypoglycemia.

It’s no surprise that food sensitivities have been linked to and blamed for causing virtually every symptom in the books.  It’s also no surprise that a diagnosis is so difficult to make, and why there is so much controversy amid its existence.  I think the controversy surrounding the existence of food sensitivities was made famous by the work of the pediatric allergist Ben Feingold.

Feingold was sure that hyperactivity in children was caused by sensitivities to contaminants and additives in foods.  His diet for hyperactive children was free of all artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, propellants, nutritional supplements, etc., and though his idea was met with aggressive skepticism, there were/are sound reasons to argue for his theory, the most important of which was that many children benefited from the diet.