Why Are So Many People Allergic to Foods These Days?

Evidence shows that prevalence of both food allergies and intolerances is growing worldwide.

Recent studies show that food intolerances are almost 5 times more prevalent today than in the 1950s. As many as 1 in 6 Americans is estimated to have a food intolerance.

But why?

The simplest answer is the lack of variety in our diets. Many of us are eating just a few foods, in different forms, again and again throughout each day. Many of the prepared or processed foods we eat are based on wheat, corn, and soy processed to look different at each meal. And many of the farm-raised animal products in the grocery store were grown using those same few base ingredients.

Photo credit: Flickr | corn/soy: Nichaloas A. Tonelli, wheat: Zarko Susnjar

Photo credit: Flickr | corn/soy: Nichaloas A. Tonelli, wheat: Zarko Susnjar

Since many food intolerance symptoms don’t appear until a certain threshold “dose” is reached, eating a lot of any one food can raise your chances of experiencing symptoms.

Another answer: they don’t make ‘em like they used to. Our food sources have evolved rapidly and significantly to be vastly different from those of our grandparents, not to mention their grandparents. Looking back to past generations, these time frames are but a blink in terms of Homo sapiens’ evolutionary history, but if we were to compare diet over the last 50 years there would be some stark differences:

  • Engineered breeding and corporate farming have become the norm, influencing what ends up on our plate.
  • Our diet is confined to a more limited number of foods—and hugely reliant on wheat, corn, fructose, and soy, all of which can cause inflammation and may contribute to development of intolerances.
  • We have shifted from more traditional methods of preparation to faster, more cost-effective methods that may not be as healthy. For example, the slow and unhurried process through which sourdough bread has traditionally been made is now compressed using new yeasts and artificial rising agents. Unlike modern methods, the slower, natural process of fermentation reduces the gluten content of sourdough breads.

For athletes who subject their bodies to tough workouts each day, it’s even easier to trigger a food intolerance in today’s food environment.

The Athlete's Fix by Pip TaylorIn The Athlete’s Fix, registered dietitian Pip Taylor will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete’s Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify your food intolerances and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (in Australia), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

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The Foods You Crave Might Be the Worst For You

Believe it or not, food cravings can be a sign of intolerance to the food you crave.

Sometimes problematic foods give you a “high” because your body becomes somewhat addicted to the hormones histamine and cortisol that are released in response to the aggravating foods. Inevitably, what goes up must come down, and you are likely to experience a very low point after you consume these foods, for example headaches or negative changes in mood.

Those feelings, of course, can only be rectified by consuming more of the problem food in order to experience that “high” again. This is the cycle of cravings in motion.

Photo credit: Flick/Dixie Belle Cupcake Cafe

Photo credit: Flick/Dixie Belle Cupcake Cafe

It can be difficult to reconcile that these “feel-good” foods are potentially not good for you. It’s diabolical, really.

I often see the food craving cycle in action when people go on an elimination diet and initially feel worse. The highs they were getting from problem foods are not there any more.

The good news is that if you are truly able to avoid the problematic foods, the associated cravings subside relatively quickly after you remove them from your diet and mood swings and other symptoms are alleviated.

One way to pinpoint your own feel-good foods? Be on the lookout for things you consume daily and feel anxious about giving up.

The Athlete's Fix by Pip TaylorIn The Athlete’s Fix, registered dietitian Pip Taylor will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete’s Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify your food intolerances and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (in Australia), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

WTF Are FODMAPs?!

FODMAPs is an acronym for a family of carbohydrates that cause cause GI distress in some people. FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.

When we eat foods containing carbohydrates, a portion is not absorbed or digested in the small intestine and instead passes right on through to the large intestine, where it ferments and produces short-chain fatty acids and gas.

This is a normal process that occurs in everyone.

In fact, the short-chain fatty acids are an important part of a healthy digestive system because they provide fuel for gut bacteria and help protect the mucosal lining of the intestines.

The Athlete's Fix Apples

In some people, certain carbohydrates eaten in threshold amounts can lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, distension, abdominal discomfort, and either diarrhea or constipation, or a mix of both.

The bacteria residing in your gut will determine how you handle and respond to these particular carbohydrates.

For some of us, any amount is absolutely fine, while others can consume only a minimal amount before they encounter symptoms, the severity of which may range from mildly annoying to debilitating. For those facing less severe symptoms, it’s common to accept them—when you are accustomed to the discomfort it’s easy to assume that everyone else is dealing with similar feelings.

The types of carbohydrates that are most commonly malabsorbed in the intestine are known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols). These are simply the technical names for the structure of the sugar molecules (saccharides is another name for sugar). All carbohydrates are broken down into glucose or sugar molecules through digestion.

FODMAPs are found in a wide variety of foods: fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, dairy, nuts, and seeds. Apples, pears, onions, garlic, wheat, and rye are among the common culprits. Since FODMAPs describe only certain carbohydrates, proteins and fats are free of them.

Are FODMAPs a problem food for you? Which foods are high in FODMAPs? What diets avoid FODMAPs? Find out in The Athlete’s Fix.

The Athlete's Fix by Pip TaylorIn her new book The Athlete’s Fix, registered dietitian Pip Taylor will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete’s Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor, Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

How The Athlete’s Fix Works: A 3-Step Program

In The Athlete’s Fix, registered dietitian Pip Taylor will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete’s Fix offers a sensible, 3-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

So how does The Athlete’s Fix work?

The Athlete's Fix Pip Taylor AF_600x315_apples1231. First, you’ll clean up your diet by adopting The Athlete’s Fix Base Functional Diet. On the Base Functional Diet, you’ll avoid common problem foods, inflammatory foods, food ingredients, food chemicals, and habits that can trigger food sensitivity symptoms or make food intolerances worse. During your time using the Base Functional Diet, you will reduce your overall levels of inflammation, heal any damage to your gut, reduce your chronic load of food-related allergens, and return gradually to a base state. Don’t think of the Base Functional Diet as a cleanse, which it is not. Think of it instead as a grace period to allow your body a much-needed break from the irritants that are causing your reactions to food. Most people begin feeling better in just a few days. The Athlete’s Fix offers 50 recipes to support the Base Functional Diet.

2. Second, you’ll identify other problem foods like FODMAPs and food chemicals. If you’re sensitive to these problem foods, it will take your body longer to reset itself as they clear from your system. The Athlete’s Fix shares the protocol for testing your sensitivity to these common allergens.

3. Third, you’ll begin reintroducing foods and observing your reactions to them. Your food journal will help identify the specific foods, food ingredients, food chemicals, and habits that trigger your food intolerance symptoms.

When  you’re done, you’ll have created your own personalized diet that is free of those problem foods. Every few years or after significant changes to diet or lifestyle, you may repeat The Athlete’s Fix program to identify new problem foods or to notice that old problem foods don’t bother you as much as they once did.

Do you have a food intolerance? Find out with this Food Intolerance Symptoms Quiz.

The Athlete's Fix by Pip Taylor

In her new book The Athlete’s Fix, registered dietitian Pip Taylor will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete’s Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor, Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

What Foods Should Athletes Eat? What Foods Should Athletes Avoid?

When it comes to nutrition, mixed messages and confusion often go hand in hand.

It’s funny that we have such a hard time knowing what exactly we should or shouldn’t be eating, since it’s something we all do multiple times a day. An athlete’s confusion over food is no different. It’s widely recognized that good nutrition is an integral part of any training program and essential for helping you perform at your best, but there seems to be a lack of understanding about just what makes a good athletic diet, in addition to what makes a healthy diet generally.

The fix for athletes—and for everyone else, for that matter—is to eat as wide a variety of beneficial foods as possible while avoiding or minimizing foods that have a negative impact on health, performance, or both.

Too many diets aggressively eliminate foods as a one-size-fits-all solution to better health. It’s common to experience positive results from changing up your diet in this way, though you will not know exactly why the change is working. You might benefit even more by reintroducing some of those restricted foods to maximize variety in your diet.

I believe that there is little point in eliminating foods without reason. Food, like life, is to be enjoyed. By the same token, you want to ensure that the foods you do eat are positively adding to your ability to play, train, or race to your best ability while also supporting a long and healthy life. To identify the foods that could be to blame for the issues you face, you will need to take a more careful approach.

The Athlete's Fix Coconut Almond Pancakes

A key component to any healthy diet is being able to enjoy food. Far more than simply sustaining life, food is social, and it is meant to be enjoyed. Customs, traditions, and connectivity to others are all wrapped up in growing, preparing, and eating food. The extent to which we enjoy food and the rituals around it is also important to health. After all, you can’t have a healthy body without a healthy mind. And there is no point in living a long, healthy life if it is not enjoyable too. Eating is something we need to do every day, multiple times throughout the day. I love food and I want to help you make your experience with food truly enjoyable, regardless of what food intolerances or sensitivities you bring to the table.

The Athlete’s Fix is designed to help you become aware of your own food intolerances, be confident in making healthy food choices, and eat the foods that are optimal for you. Once you find your best diet, better health and performance are within reach.

The Athlete's Fix by Pip TaylorIn The Athlete’s Fix, registered dietitian Pip Taylor will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete’s Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify your food intolerances and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (in Australia), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

What’s Inside The Athlete’s Fix?

The Athlete's Fix by Pip Taylor

In her new book The Athlete’s Fix, registered dietitian Pip Taylor will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete’s Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor, Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

How to Design Your Own, Unique Diet

We don’t need to get too caught up on what it means to have a food allergy, an intolerance, or a sensitivity.

Let’s simply say that you have an intolerance for a specific food if you feel better and notice a decrease in symptoms when you avoid it. (Take the food sensitivity symptoms quiz.)

The Athlete's Fix Food Intolerance Symptoms Quiz

You do not need scientific reasoning, a test, or a diagnosis to make this judgment. If you feel better after eliminating a specific food, you don’t need a doctor, nutritionist, or lab technician to confirm your findings. It’s more important for you to simply avoid those problem foods than to fully understand the scientific reasoning for why they don’t agree with you.

Remember also that no one food will be mandatory for you to meet your nutritional goals. History has demonstrated that humans are very good at surviving and thriving on very different diets.

Just as your training plan will be different to that of your training partner, so too your diet will be unique to you. The Athlete’s Fix will guide you through the process of choosing those foods that are best for you and eliminating those that cause problems for you. You’ll create your own, unique diet. Here’s the basic overview:

1. First, you’ll clean up your diet by adopting The Athlete’s Fix Base Functional Diet.

2. Second, you’ll identify other problem foods like FODMAPs and food chemicals.

3. Third, you’ll begin reintroducing foods and observing your reactions to them.

Stay tuned for more on The Athlete’s Fix program.

The Athlete's Fix by Pip TaylorIn The Athlete’s Fix, registered dietitian Pip Taylor will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete’s Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify your food intolerances and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (in Australia), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.