For the last 7 months I have changed my dietary lifestyle by cutting out all dairy and grains. I follow a Paleolithic diet in which I consume veggies, fruits, nuts and meats. Being Italian, cutting out the breads, pastas and cheese was challenging. A few weeks into this dietary change I felt better than I’ve ever felt. My energy levels were up, I never felt bloated after meals and I didn’t crave processed foods. The first couple months I was strict on Paleo because I wanted to see what it could do to my body. The other incentive was I was going to Punta Cana at the end of December and who doesn’t want to look good on vacation?? Punta Cana was the first time I strayed from my diet and reached for the bread basket. It was delicious and I cherished every last bite until the unexpected happened.
Have you ever had the stomach bug? Well it was worse. My body reacted to the meal like it was a foreign object that had entered my digestive system. I was sick for days. How could it be that my whole life I indulged in breads and pasta and I never had this reaction? I disregarded this incident and continued my Paleolithic diet when I returned home from vacation.
It was only until last weekend that I finally made the connection of what was going on. I was in NYC with family and we went out for frozen yogurt, a treat that I used to eat 2-3 times a week. I was aware I hadn’t had dairy since September but I figured if it never upset my stomach before I would be fine now. So I ate my frozen yogurt and I went to bed. The next morning I woke up and my body felt like it had been hit by a truck. My body couldn’t get that dairy out of my system fast enough.
That’s when I realized, had I trained my body to become allergic to dairy and gluten? I began to research about these allergies and to see if this has happened to anyone else following a Paleolithic diet. Here is what I’ve learned:
75% of the Earth’s population is lactose intolerant. Being lactose intolerant means our bodies don’t break down lactose (dairy) because we don’t produce the enzyme lactase. Lactases only function is to digest lactose in milk. Our ancestors and all other species were weaned off of milk after infancy and never drank milk the rest of their life so they stopped producing the enzyme lactase to break down the sugar in milk. During human evolution, some humans experienced a mutation in the lactase gene which allowed some humans to process lactose as adults. The remaining 75% of the population cannot properly digest it which created evidence that dairy conflict with our body’s natural processes. So because our natural state is being lactose intolerant, when we consume dairy, the undigested lactose causes water and electrolytes to be pulled into the intestines. This results in diarrhea, bloating and gassiness.
Now think back to the last time you had some form of dairy. How did you feel after? If you experienced any type of stomach discomfort then that’s your body telling you its rejecting it. Some people don’t experience these symptoms but inflammation does occur in the body, disrupting your digestive system. This is alarming to me. The fact that my body had such an intense reaction to both dairy and gluten opened my eyes to what we should and shouldn’t be consuming in our diets.
Some of you may think well if you became allergic to gluten and dairy by cutting it out, then don’t cut it out and we should all be fine. Well I guess, but should your body ever respond that way to food? You don’t see people having digestion issues after eating sweet potatoes! Maybe we need to listen to our bodies more. I think we can all agree that the goal of any diet is to have good digestion, feel energized and just feel good! Maybe we should focus less on low calorie diets and more on the quality of foods we put in our bodies. Could that be the missing component to curing obesity?? Only time and research will tell, but I think we are on to something!!