It’s a question that I find myself asking often, as I see so many of my friends affected by food intolerances, both minor and major.
The further I take my interest in health and nutrition, the more I follow blogs, tweets and Facebook pages relating to different areas of health. It has become obvious to me that alot of people’s passion for nutrition has actually stemmed from their past experience with an illness – be it a serious illness such as cancer or something not so sinister such as food intolerances/allergies (I feel blessed to have experienced neither of these). I am inspired by people’s stories about how they used nutritional therapy to treat themselves, and in some cases, nurse themselves back to full health. Love love love reading this stuff!
But I am continually astounded at how many people have intolerances to common foods. Once upon a time, gluten and dairy intolerances were uncommon. Granted this may not necessarily mean that people weren’t suffering and going undiagnosed, sure, but it really does seem to me that the issue is on the increase.
I did a bit of research on this, and have also been to a seminar on food intolerances in children as well as having learned a bit about it at uni. The general consensus seems to be that around 6-8% of children have a food intolerance or allergy, or Food Hypersensitivity (FHS). Many kids will actually grow out of their intolerance.
On the other end of the spectrum, in my world alot of my friends are developing food intolerances as they hit their 30’s. What is that about? Well we know for sure that there is such a thing as Adult Onset Food Intolerance, it isn’t uncommon for this to happen, as annoying as it is. But is it on the increase? The research suggests that it may be, but alot of the data is “self reported”, meaning many of the people claiming to have intolerances haven’t actually been diagnosed. So the data is murky.
This brings up another interesting topic that is probably best for another day. Is it cool to be gluten intolerant? What are the knock on effects for people limiting these highly allergenic foods in their diet when they themselves aren’t allergic? I’ll save that controversial post for another time….. 🙂
The conclusion I drew from the research I read was that there was a slight increase in child and adult onset food intolerances, and that this was probably caused by 1. incorrect self diagnosis and 2. limited exposure to pathogens. The second point eludes to the fact that we are too clean these days, we don’t allow our bodies to be exposed to bacteria as much as we used to and therefore are creating problems for ourselves. If we don’t allow our bodies to be exposed and develop antobodies against pathogens, then when we do, on the very rare occasion, come across one….our bodies no like it.
One more thing, what about breast feeding vs bottle feeding? What is the impact of bottle fed babies on their risk for food intolerances? As we know, the best protection for babies in the very early stages of life is the antibodie protection that is passed on from Mum to baby through breast milk. It is SPECIFIC for that child from that mother, and will set the foundation for that child’s future immunity status. Nature = amazing.
So, let’s all just calm down about germs and get real about our bodies! For those people with an illness or intolerance, no matter what the severity, it is hard to argue against the evidence for nutritional therapy. There is a plethora of information and support, recipes, blogs, books, pins, pages, tweets and more … so get searching!