Nutrition, Focus and You
Nancy Cohen, RDN, LDN
Owner- Feeding The Body Feeding The Soul LLC
Do you ever feel like you can’t remember everything you need to do or you can’t remember someone’s name? Are feeling as if you are not firing on all cylinders? It could be your emotions, your stamina or your nutrition.
There are new schools of thought on Eating well for Focus. Many experts suggest that a diet high in protein and has healthy low glycemic carbohydrates assists adults and children in their work throughout the day. A drop off in blood sugar can cause irritability and loss of concentration and often we turn to quick pick me ups to give us the “lift” we need (coffee and a cereal bar or fruit as a snack).
While this sounds like a quick solution to this feeling of dragging- it actually perpetuates the cycle and allows the adult or child to continue in this high – low see-saw situation.
Adding to the problem, besides consuming simple sugars, quick treats, caffeine and food coloring, we also have the concern of continually taking in Foods that cause inflammation.
Now what kind of food would be considered an inflammatory agent? This question could be answered by taking every single food out of your diet and then reintroducing them one at a time- but in this fast past world full of activities all day and evening long- who has time for this?
The National Institute of Health has been a front runner in microbiome research and it's affect on the human body. The microbiome is a compilation of healthy and harmful bacteria. Our digestive tract needs these healthy bacteria (Bifidobacteria and Acidophilus) to maintain its health and integrity. The digestive tract is responsible not only for food digestion, but our nervous, hormonal and immune systems.
Many are unaware that 60 – 70% of the immune system resides in the large intestine emphasizing the importance of intestinal health.
Food Allergy vs. Sensitivity: What is the difference?
Let us first review the differences between allergies and sensitivities. People often say they are allergic to certain foods, but upon further assessment, the symptoms described are not those of food allergies, but rather food sensitivities or intolerances.
What is a Food Allergy?
A food allergy is an immune system response to compounds found in foods. Food allergies occur when the body mistakes the food eaten as an invader and sends antibodies to fight it. This is what is called an IgE reaction.
When a person with a food allergy eats an offending food, IgE triggers a chain of reactions that result in the body releasing chemicals, such as histamine to expel the “invader” from the body. Depending on the tissue in which these chemicals are released, a person will present a variety of food allergy symptoms. Typical symptoms present within 4 hours and may include anaphylaxis, runny nose, itchy mouth or eyes or hives. For some, it is deadly.
The inflammatory response created by the immune system’s reaction to foods may impact brain chemistry and behavior. Therefore, it is suggested starting with the avoidance of potential “reactive” foods and offering you or your child the repertoire of “nonreactive” foods identified by an Alcat Food Sensitivity Test results. Further dietary interventions, including some of the strategies associated with some plans listed above, may or may not be necessary.
Common food allergens include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, pecans and almonds), wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. They are considered “the big eight” because they are the most common food allergens. Together they make up about 90 percent of all food related allergic reactions. Eggs, milk and peanuts are the most common allergens in children. Unlike adults, children can sometimes outgrow their food allergies, especially to milk and soy.
What is Food Intolerance/Sensitivity?
Food intolerance is a digestive system response rather than an immune system response (as in food allergies). Food intolerances occur when the digestive system is unable to digest a particular food. These food particles can then enter the blood stream where the T helper cells see these foods as invaders and cause inflammation.
Some symptoms of food intolerance overlap with food allergy symptoms. People with food intolerances are usually able to consume small amounts of food without experiencing adverse reactions, while even small amounts of food allergens can cause severe reactions.
Unlike the immediate immune response seen with food allergies, food sensitivity reactions are delayed reactions by the immune system. Because of the delay in response, it is often difficult to notice the offending foods that trigger the immune reaction.
According to Registered Dietitian Nutritionist/Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist Nancy Cohen, extensive research has shown that excessive production of such molecules can attack and cause damage to normal tissues by triggering the inflammation response.
Inflammation is believed to be the underlying process involved in disease formation, and can be a contributing cause to many common symptoms experienced by people including brain fog, fatigue, depression, rashes, sinus, respiratory and digestive symptoms, and diseases like celiac, thyroid, arthritis, and other autoimmune conditions.
How do you know if you have Food Sensitivity?
There are several methods to determine food sensitivities. Some require eliminating entire food groups, keeping detailed food journals or taking a scientific blood test.
Establishing Good Gut Health
Maintaining good gut microflora is a constant battle. Our bodies are continually being exposed to pathogens, pesticides in foods, antibiotics, foods causing sensitivities, processed foods and stress. It takes a daily regiment of eating healthfully, eliminating foods that cause sensitivities and stress reduction to establish and maintain good gut health.
To learn more about Nutrition for Focus, Food sensitivities and the Alcat test, contact Nancy at 970-875-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great Eating Tips for You
Nutritionist, Dietitian & Energy Worker