It’s a fact: research shows food sensitivities and allergies can trigger physical cravings, prompting binges and fueling disordered eating—and making intuitive, body-centered eating darn near impossible.
One theory says repeated consumption of problem foods promote a rise in narcotic-like chemicals naturally produced by the body that are as addictive as drugs. So you unconsciously keep eating more and more of them, making matters even worse. And left untreated, hidden food sensitivities are linked not only with digestive disorders, but also troubling, hard-to-treat ailments like chronic joint pain, mysterious skin conditions, unexplained sleep disturbances, even anxiety, depression and mood swings. If you suspect undiagnosed sensitivities, find out now, with a simple, affordable test. And read on for common signs that signal sensitivities.
You already know food intolerances irritate your gut and disrupt digestion. Besides your belly—five sneaky signs you may have a hidden sensitivity:
1. Your joints hurt, like all the time. Untamed inflammation is a key factor in joint pain, swelling, stiffness and soreness—and some sneaky (healthy) foods can fan the flames and provoke pain. Nightshades like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers contain a plant compound called solanine, shown to trigger inflammation and achy joints in sensitive people. Other common offenders: lectins—plant proteins found in a variety of nutritious foods—can provoke pain and inflammation. They’re highest in beans, lentils, peas, soybeans and peanuts, as well as wheat and other whole grains.
2. You’re gaining weight, in spite of everything. Food allergies and sensitivities trigger inflammation, disrupts blood sugar and promotes insulin resistance and fat storage. Research points to a link between inflammation and obesity; in studies, overweight people had higher levels of inflammation and chemical markers that indicate food sensitivities and allergies. Other studies show the typical American diet—high in gluten, dairy, soy and other foods likely to provoke reactions—prompts higher levels of inflammation and weight gain.
3. Your moods are on a roller coaster ride. Mysterious, unexplained mood swings may be caused by food sensitivities—shown to impact the central nervous system and increase irritability, anxiety, depression and fatigue. Other research links food sensitivities with cognitive impairment, confusion and slowed thought processes—or brain fog.
4. Your skin is…just wrong. Eczema, acne, rashes, dark circles under the eyes and prematurely aging skin are common signs of food sensitivities. Inflammation and increased cortisol—a result of the body’s ongoing stress response to aggravating foods—lead to a breakdown of collagen, the protein that keeps skin plump and firm.
5. Your head aches, for no good reason. Chronic, low-grade headaches and migraines are well-known symptoms of food sensitivities and allergies. Certain foods, like sulfites (in wine or dried fruit) and MSG are notorious for causing of headaches in people who are sensitive. Nitrates and nitrites in processed meats like salami and bacon, and foods high in tyramine, like aged cheese, can also set off head pain.