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What’s With Allergens?

What’s With Allergens?

I’ve talked about inflammation, and how harmful it is, inhibiting our ability’s to thrive. If you want to work towards decreasing inflammation and jump on the anti-inflammatory train, simply start to eat more real food like well sourced meats, healthy fats, and lots of produce. As you eat more of the good stuff, you’ll naturally start to crowd out the bad, like excess sugar and processed foods.

I think we’re at the point where most people get that Oreos and Doritos aren’t doing anybody any favors. But I don’t think that it is common knowledge yet that there are seemingly healthy foods that cause inflammation too.

Here’s the deal:

Plants want to survive just like animals. However, they do not have claws and teeth to defend themselves. Instead, they have built in survival mechanisms to make themselves indigestible.

In whole grains, for example, the bran and germ are present. This is where all of the nutrients are stored – giving grains their good-for-you reputation. Along with these beneficial nutrients, the bran and germ also store phytates and lectins. Phytates are anti-nutrients which inhibit the absorption of said beneficial nutrients… So we can’t actually absorb them. (1)

Lectins are indigestible and wreak havoc on the gut, causing intestinal permeability (i.e. leaky gut). (2) This is when there is damage to the fragile gut lining, allowing substances to leak into the blood stream that should never be there, causing systemic inflammation, which is associated with digestive and autoimmune problems. (1)

Highest amounts of these compounds are found in grains (Think: wheat, rye, barley, quinoa, corn, oats, rice, buckwheat, millet) and legumes (Think: Beans, peanuts, peas). (2) Not only are levels high, but grains and legumes tend to be consumed as staples in the diet for those who do eat them. Cereal with breakfast, sandwich for lunch, pasta at dinner. (1)

Nuts and seeds can get to toxic levels if they are overdone, so moderate consumption of these guys. Think of them more of a topping than the bulk of any given meal/snack. (3) And exactly why industrial seed oils (vegetable oils like canola or sunflower oils) are something to avoid.

Vegetables have much lower doses of these compounds, which is why they are not only well tolerated, but beneficial. They have a hormetic effect.

Hormesis is a biological phenomenon whereby a beneficial effect (improved health, stress tolerance, growth, or longevity) results from exposure to low doses of an agent that is otherwise toxic or lethal when given at higher doses. (4)

Similar with exercise, or any other stressor, small doses provide benefits, whereas chronic exposure of high levels can become detrimental. In the words of Fredrich Nietzsche, “What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.”

The take away’s here:

  1. Eat lots of veggies.
  2. Moderate consumption of nuts/seeds.
  3. Avoid industrial seed oils. Opt for coconut oil and olive oil instead.
  4. Find your threshold with grains and legumes. I encourage you to use a food log to evaluate how they make you feel (fatigued, bloated, gassy, foggy brain, etc.), and in what doses (a spoonful of brown rice vs. a bowl of it). Read how to: here. From there you can make informed decisions based on how you are willing to feel. It’s an opportunity to know yourself better!

Need help evaluating allergies and building your custom eating style? Reach out for a free initial conversation with me.

(1) https://robbwolf.com/2015/05/13/grains-whats-the-upside/#_edn10

(2) https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-lectins

(3) https://www.marksdailyapple.com/nuts-and-phytic-acid/

(4) https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Hormetic