Thursday, 5 June 2014

If it doesn't agree with you, it's not healthy

There are ideas in our society (often conflicting) about which foods are healthy. The one thing that not enough people consider is that we are all individuals. Just because the majority deems a food good for us does not intrinsically make it beneficial. An increasing number of people are becoming allergic or intolerant to a variety of foods, and for them these foods are detrimental to their health and well-being.

You may be correct in assuming that it is a better choice to eat organic or 'natural' food, but being either of these things doesn't necessarily make something good for you. Would greasy fast food be nutritious if it was made with organic ingredients? I hope I don't need to answer that! So if someone answered "But it's organic", this is the equivalent of someone saying to you "but it's healthy" when you decline a 'healthy' food that doesn't agree with you. It's just not logical.

When our son Orlando thrived on a gluten-free diet I had an array of well-educated and well-meaning health professionals concerned about the nutrients he was missing out on as a result of avoiding gluten. They wanted to reintroduce gluten for three months and then test him for coeliac disease in case I was unnecessarily depriving him of gluten. The fact that on gluten his growth rate had slowed dramatically (despite eating hugs amounts) and he was failing to develop sufficient muscle tone, had explosive bowels and a range of other extreme symptoms appeared to be secondary in importance. Is this really good science when labeling a child is more important than their development? With or without coeliac disease, gluten is detrimental to Orlando, full stop. It’s important to note though that because he’s untested we must treat him like he’s a coeliac in case he is (avoiding even tiny amounts of gluten in cross contamination etc.).

It can take some time to work out which foods, if any, don't suit your individual make up. When you do discover your bodies unique needs, you will soon realise that no health giving properties of a food outweigh the negative effects of a food that doesn't agree with you. Studies are conducted on groups, and demonstrate statistically significant results that may relate to most people, but rarely all. If your body tells you that something "healthy" is hurting you, don't eat it, no matter how many antioxidants or nutrients it contains or how wholesome it appears.

The result of an allergic or intolerant reaction can range from anaphylaxis and coeliac disease to skin rashes or gut issues. Obviously few people argue about the importance of avoiding allergens at the more serious end of the spectrum. It's those food sensitivities that cause what may be deemed merely annoying symptoms that are often ignored. In reality though even minor complaints can negatively affect our quality of life and our health.

Gut issues can cause pain, fatigue, problems digesting and absorbing nutrients and even impact us psychologically. Poor digestive health can also contribute to leaky gut and inflammation, and should be taken seriously. Other symptoms such as skin rashes, wheezing or fatigue might seem like something you can live with, but they're irritating, can affect your daily life, and are a signal from your body that it doesn't like what you're feeding it. Please listen to your body; it's super intelligent and has your best interests at heart!

May you be full of beans and wise enough to make food choices that suit your body’s individual needs,


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