One of the first lessons I learned on the road to self-healing was this: what you choose to eat has a powerful impact on your health and how you feel each day.
Every cell in your body is affected by your diet.
Your food choices play a big role in the amount of inflammation in your body. Inflammatory reactions involve the release of chemicals that cause irritation and swelling inside of you.
This is definitely not a good situation for those of us with endometriosis.
If these inflammatory processes go on for too long or get out of control, then these high levels of inflammatory chemicals interfere with the functioning of your cells and cause tissue damage.
Certain foods may be causing these inflammatory reactions in your body. That’s why it’s so important to figure out which foods are the best for your unique biochemistry.
Once you figure out which foods cause reactions in your body then you can make a move to remove then, feel better, and lay the groundwork for a stronger immune system to ward off endometriosis.
Food & Your Immune System
There are many foods that can cause inflammation in your body. In fact, every food has the potential to cause an immune reaction in your body.
Proteins in the foods that you eat provide information to your immune system. These proteins are made of building blocks called amino acids, which are linked together.
Your immune cells attempt to recognize the different patterns of amino acids in order to determine if they are friend or foe.
Your immune system should not attack your own tissues. It should recognize and attack bad bacteria, yeast, viruses, infectious agents and it should recognize and remove endometriosis.
Problems arise when your immune system makes mistakes.
Food Sensitivity & Leaky Gut
These immune system mistakes escalate when your intestinal lining is not in tact, resulting in leaky gut. With leaky gut, big particles of food seep through your intestinal lining to meet your immune cells on the other side.
Since this food entering your body is foreign, your immune system reacts and creates antibodies that attach to the food. These large particles then settle into your tissues and causes further inflammation and damage in your body.
Leaky gut causes you to develop food sensitivities, because your immune cells create antibodies against the food.
This means that every time you eat it, it sends your immune system off and causes an inflammatory reaction in your body. It it is common with leaky gut to have symptoms and reactions to a variety of different foods.
You are pretty well guaranteed to have leaky gut if you have any autoimmune condition. I think leaky gut is also connected with endometriosis.
And, presumably, you have food sensitivities.
Symptoms of Food Sensitivity
A food sensitivity means that you feel worse when you eat the food and better when you don’t. Many times a food sensitivity results in digestive distress.
Other symptoms may not be as obvious, and they may not happen right away.
Examples of food sensitivity symptoms include:
The most common food sensitivities are gluten, dairy, soy and corn.
Additional foods that can cause problems are eggs, shellfish, peanuts and foods in the nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant). Nightshades release inflammatory chemicals that like to collect in your joints, causing pain and inflammation.
Once you remove these problem ingredients then you quiet some or all of these symptoms.
Food Sensitivity Testing
If you get a food allergy test done, they’ll check for different antibodies, however, this is not the most accurate measure. Even if an allergy test says you are not allergic to a specific food, you could still have a reaction to it when you eat it.
The best way to see if you have a food sensitivity is to remove it from your diet and see if some of your symptoms go away.
Remove the food for at least three weeks then reintroduce it back in. The time away from the food allows your immune system to settle down.
When you bring the food back into your body, pay close attention to how your body reacts. If you are sensitive to certain foods then your body will relay different symptoms, as discussed above.
Once you know a particular food isn’t good for you, remove it from your body.
Remember, you deserve to feel good. Food plays a big role in that, it’s the largest environmental exposure you have. Ultimately, we should choose foods based on how they will impact our cells.
The Low Down on Gluten Sensitivity
The most common food sensitivity today is gluten: a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten is found in many of our food choices, and it’s being consumed in much higher quantities then it was in the past.
Our bodies are not designed to eat this much gluten and the overexposure to it is causing immune reactions.
The wheat that is grown today is much different from what our ancestors ate. It’s been modified to have more gluten, which makes it harder to digest. This has made gluten a leading contributor to leaky gut.
Gluten has an amino acid structure similar to many tissues in our bodies, which increases the likelihood of your immune system making a mistake.
So, while your body is busy attacking the gluten (released via leaky gut), it also starts to attack the tissues of your small intestine, thyroid, myelin in your nervous system, and your joints.
This reaction is driven by antibodies, which you can test for. A positive anti-gliadin antibody (AGA) test could be an early sign of celiac disease. Since you need to have gluten in your system to do the test, it’s a good idea to get this test done before going gluten-free.
Even if theses test comes back negative, you may still have a sensitivity to gluten.
Gluten is a tricky food protein. Until you remove the gluten from your diet, you really don’t know what its impact is on your body. You might have symptoms that seem unrelated to food.
If you have a sensitivity to gluten it could be wrecking havoc on your immune system. Your first “symptom” could be an autoimmune disease.
On the Positive Side?
After doing my own elimination trials and re-introduction of foods, I figured out that dairy gives me sinus issues and headaches and gluten makes me super tired, constipated, depressed and foggy headed.
When I cut out gluten and dairy, the headaches that I struggled with for most of my life went away and I dropped ten pounds (of bloat!) Lol.
Once you start paying attention, you become aware of your food habits. With observation you discover what you’re putting into your body and how you feel afterwards.
We can only change what we are aware of.
Once you note your food choices and how your body reacts to them, then you can take steps to change them and feel better!
Do you remember what you ate yesterday? What about three days ago? It’s easy to forget what we eat, which makes it difficult to figure out what’s causing issues.
The first step in any self-healing process is awareness: being mindful, paying attention and taking note.
To help you get started on feeling better with endometriosis, I invite you to join my course, Endo Diet Jump-start. Find out more and register here.