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In this blog, we focus on why your body can't seem to make up its mind about certain foods agreeing or disagreeing with you and what you can do to try and break the cycle of food sensitivity.
Have you ever wondered why you can't seem to stop eating foods that obviously don't agree with you?
What about when you do stay away from them for a while only to find your body's response is worse than ever?
Or, you eat too much of your "favorite" food and your symptoms improve. That makes no sense!
Or does it?
Turns out there is a theory that explains why we crave foods that don't agree with us which may also explain why your workouts are suffering.
Let's start with the theory by Dr. Marinkovich. The immune system releases proteins called antibodies when a threat like bacteria or viruses, or a disagreeable food, is identified as an antigen. So the body finds a threat (the antigen) and produces antibodies to neutralize the threat. When antibodies are released, the antigens bind to them forming singular immune complexes that the body easily destroys. Simple enough, right? Well, when too many antibodies are released, they form larger complexes that the body can't get rid of as easily.
The theory is that when the body has excess antibodies floating around, it triggers us to have cravings for the food it created the antibodies to destroy. We crave the food to provide more antigen to bring the body back to homeostasis. So, we eat the food and the immune system creates even more new antibodies and the whole process starts over.
A vicious cycle!
Let's look at an example using the ever popular bacon. We will stretch here a bit and say you love bacon. You would eat it morning, noon, and night if possible. However, every time you eat bacon, you exhibit symptoms of having a food sensitivity like muscle aches. Now this symptom might happen right after you eat the bacon or up to 3 days later. You may not even associate the bacon with your achy muscles and write it off as over training or sleeping wrong. Regardless, you eat the bacon and your immune system recognizes it as a threat. Then your body creates antibodies to bind to the antigens on the molecules of the bacon. Your muscle soreness goes away as the antigen is neutralized.
At the same time, your body now has way more antibodies than actual antigens, so it signals your brain to crave more bacon. You eat more bacon, and although you feel bad, you notice you don't feel as bad as the last time. Still though, you decide you are getting tired of achy muscles and decide you have to make some changes. So you swear off bacon for 3 weeks assuming you have overdone it a bit and could use a break. During your bacon break, the antibodies slowly start to disappear. Now, when you go back to bacon, the result is not just muscle soreness, but also a headache that lasts the rest of the day and an overall sluggish feeling that persists through your next two workouts.
So what are you supposed to do if you are unwillingly craving the very same food you should be avoiding the most?
The best step to take is get a blood test called a Mediator Release Test (MRT) that measures how your immune system reacts in the presence of these antigens. This test measure the amount of mediators (chemicals like histamines and cytokines) the immune system releases to destroy the antigen-antibody complex. The test measures these reactions against 150 different foods and food chemicals and provides you with a list of food that you should be avoiding. This is all done in conjunction with a dietitian who is certified to read the results and put a plan in place.
However, what if you don't have the means to get a MRT test right now? The answer is an elimination diet which is sometimes called a food avoidance diet. T
he idea is simple. You remove a potential offender from your diet and evaluate how you feel over time.
So now that you know it is possible that the foods you crave hurt you the most, think about how it can affect your workout performance and life in general. What you have been dismissing as "just an annoying little headache" that you get sometimes, might actually be the result of a food sensitivity and you can get rid of them for good.
Let's just hope it isn't bacon.
Somewhere there is a Paleo lover quietly weeping over this new realization.