Got Food Sensitivities? Eat ALL the Veggies for a Happier Gut

Leaky gut and other health factors will cause people to react differently to the same foods. One of the important factors in food sensitivities is the health and diversity of your gut flora.

I recently attended a fantastic seminar about food allergies and sensitivities, and the most important lesson I learned is that you can reduce your food allergies and sensitivities by simply eating a more diverse variety of vegetables.

This one simple dietary change improves your balance of gut bacteria. A healthy and diverse bacterial population in your gut will improve your food tolerance.

Food sensitivities are so common today, but most people don’t understand how they come about. So how does a person develop food sensitivities? A little background on the immune system will help in understanding this.

Secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA)
Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is a blood protein that your immune system produces to help fight off infections. IgA is found in the mucous membranes of the GI tract and respiratory tract.  It plays a part in food sensitivities and autoimmunity. If you have autoimmunity, your body’s own immune system attacks your body tissues.

When SIgA is low
Having a SIgA deficiency means that you have low levels of immunoglobulin A in your bloodstream. When SIgA is low, gut damage (“leaky gut”) can occur, resulting in lowered tolerance to foods that were once okay for you. SIgA is depleted by stress. Stress can be caused by factors including physical or emotional trauma, infection, medications, chemical exposures, neglecting your self-care (such as not getting enough sleep each night), and by dysbiosis.

Dybiosis and vegetable variety
Dysbiosis is a negative imbalance of beneficial to pathogenic bacteria. Dysbiosis is a common result of overuse of antibiotics.  In addition, eating processed and sugary foods will increase your population of “bad” bacteria. This is relatively well known. Of course, eating healthy foods, mostly vegetables – which include soluble and insoluble fibers and pre-biotics – will improve your microbial profile. However, this approach will not benefit you much if you’re eating the same foods day in and day out. If you’ve decided you only like celery, green beans, and avocados, you are severely limiting the types of beneficial bacteria your gut can host.

A diverse microbiome = tolerance to more foods
Why is it important to have a diversity of good bacteria in your gut? The more diverse your microbiome is, the more foods you will be able to tolerate. Developing a diverse set of gut flora requires you to eat a wide variety of vegetables.  If your diet is extremely limited (for example, if you’re on the SIBO diet, and/or you have known food sensitivities), eat ALL of the vegetables on your “allowed” list, even if you aren’t very fond of them. Different types of vegetables support different intestinal bacteria, and the more species of bacterial present, the healthier your gut.

Getting your vital veggie variety
I recommend going to your local farmers’ market and looking for veggies that you don’t normally eat, or better yet, join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group in your area. CSAs deliver a variety of vegetables, which forces you to get creative with recipes. Your gut and your entire body will reward you for the effort with improved food tolerance. The best news is that a person’s gut microbiome will typically improve in response to the new diet within just three days!

So expand your vegetable repertoire. Try foods such as kohlrabi, chard, sunchokes and daikon radishes. Get creative with vegetable salads, sautés, soups and smoothies. The farmers at your farmers’ market or CSA can give you ideas, and of course the Internet is always a great source of real food recipes. Enjoy new foods and the gift of better health that comes along with eating them.

Some great vegetable-based recipe sites to try:
Vegetarian Times Recipes
Cook for Good

To really nerd out on the glory of harvesting and creating vegetable delicacies, check out the mouth-watering dishes in chef José Andrés’s book, Vegetables Unleashed.

Kharrazian, D. Food allergies and sensitivities in the new millennium. Apex Energetics professional seminar, 2016.