Another title for this blog post could be “Why did Dr. Stevens have food sensitivity testing?”

Are these healthy foods making you sick?

A few months ago, our dental team joined many other dental teams from around the world at a dental meeting in Calgary, Alberta. Called the International Association of Comprehensive Aesthetics (IACA), this dental meeting brings us all together each year in a different location to teach about new and exciting advances in dentistry.  This year was no exception…except that the meeting started out with a full day of lectures about nutrition. Yes…that’s right, nutrition.  What in the world does this have to do with teeth, you may be asking.  Well, in our dental practice we believe that one of the best ways to keep the mouth healthy is to keep the body healthy, and vice versa.  When we meet new patients, we ask about medical conditions, sleep habits, breathing difficulties, headaches, back pain, posture…unusual, I know.  But the rhyme “the leg bone is connected to the knee bone” is very accurate. We refer patients to the chiropracter, suggest consultations with ENTs (ear, nose, throat doctors), send patients with high blood pressure readings in our office to their doctors for more evaluation, recommend sleep studies so that sleep apnea can be diagnosed.  None of this has a direct impact on the teeth, or on our practice, but all of it affects how our patients feel.  We want our patients to feel healthy, vibrant, to live long lives.

So, too, we as a practice team strive to practice what we preach. We are engaging in higher levels of phsycial activity to be stronger and leaner, we’ve had sleep studies and massage therapy and ENT consultations.  You may have heard another saying that food is medicine, or that you are what you eat.  At that dental meeting in July, we learned a great deal about how what we eat, even so-called “healthy foods”, may work against our best health.  How is this even possible?  It’s all about “leaky gut syndrome”, which medical doctors are working to properly define.  To explain it in brief, the lining of our digestive system serves as a barrier between our food and our bloodtsream.  With leaky gut, somehow this barrier becomes damaged and substances can leak into the bloodstream that normally wouldn’t.  Thes substances can trigger your immune system to react, causing inflammation in various parts of your body, which can lead to a variety of symptoms like bloating, cramps, fatigue, achy joints, headaches, and weight gain.  In fact, this increased permeability of the digestive system can worsen other conditions such as Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, eczema, and asthma.

What makes leaky gut happen?

As far as research shows now, diet, chronic stress, certain medications, and bacterial imbalance play important roles, as well as eating a diet high in refined sugar and processed foods.  Excessive use of medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and antibiotics can damage the lining of your gut as well, making it more permeable.  Some foods which may be thought of as healthy (certain fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein sources) can trigger these immune responses in our bodies, and we feel worse and worse but can’t understand why.

How would I find out what foods I should avoid?

The test I took is called ALCAT, and it is a simple blood test that meaures your body’s reactivity to certain foods and chemicals. The testing can tell you specifically which foods create severe, moderate, mild, or no response, and the testing can also be done for medications, food additives, and natural/herbal supplements. Once you find out what foods you are sensitive to, you can eliminate these foods for a period of time (3-6 months), then slowly reintroduce them one at a time to determine if the body will still create inflammation in response to this food.

These are my food-sensitivity test results

These are my food-sensitivity test results

I had my blood tested a week ago, and received my results just yesterday…and I was sad.  Some of my favorite things to eat could be affecting my health the most negatively!  Everything in the severe category needs to be eliminated for 6 months minimum, the moderate catergory for 3-6 months, and the mild category I should try to avoid these foods, or eat them no more than once every four days.  I have a telephone consultation scheduled with a nutritional counselor tomorrow afternoon to help me figure out how I can live without coffee, baked goods, beef, chicken, and some of my favorite vegetables!  Also, she will hopefully give me an idea of how to reintroduce some of these foods successfully in the future.  Mostly, I’m looking forward to the “experiment” of feeling healthier, less tired, better/more consistent digestion.  A few pounds off my waistline would be a nice benefit also!

How can I get more information?

You can visit the ALCAT test website here, and if you live in the Ottawa area, you can contact our office for more information or to arrange food sensitivity testing. Andrea Stevens is a cosmetic and family dentist in practice in Kanata, Ontario.  If you have dental questions, you can call her at 613-271-7091 or visit her at kanatacosmeticdentist.com Please also feel free to leave comments or questions below, and Dr. Stevens will be happy to answer!