Whether you’re a fitness fanatic, or you’re taking steps to introduce a little more activity into your daily routine, it can be frustrating when you’re not seeing progress.
We all know that results come from a blend of regular exercise and a balanced diet. But, on the diet side, sometimes even the healthiest meals can undermine your efforts if you’re eating something that doesn’t agree with you.
It’s estimated that around 45% of the UK population suffers with food intolerance. This means that almost half of us struggle to digest certain foods in our diets, leading to a host of unwanted side effects.
So, if you’re finding that you’re missing the mark when it comes to your health and fitness goals, it might be time to take a closer look at exactly what you’re fuelling your body with.
Firstly, what is food intolerance?
Food intolerances can occur when your body’s immune system mistakes a food protein as a threat, releasing antibodies to fight it. This reaction can result in a range of inflammatory symptoms, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and bloating, headaches, brain fog, skin complaints like eczema or acne, or joint pain.
While for some, the symptoms are quite mild and manageable, for others, the impact their trigger foods have on their health can be debilitating. Even milder intolerances can have a surprising impact, preventing you from experiencing optimal health.
Food intolerance is often confused with food allergy, but the two are very different. Allergies are usually present from birth and symptoms, which can be life threatening, tend to appear immediately after being exposed to a trigger food. Food intolerances however, although often uncomfortable, are not as severe and can take up to 72 hours to appear. This delayed reaction makes it particularly difficult to pinpoint the cause. Unlike allergies, you can develop a food intolerance at any stage of life.
So, how can food intolerances hold us back from achieving our fitness goals?
- Stress to the system
The physical reactions associated with food intolerances generally involve inflammation, which puts the body under a lot of unwanted stress. When stressed your body simply can’t function at its best and you may notice you feel tired and irritable, as well as experiencing a range of other physical symptoms.
- Poor absorption
Food intolerances can wreak havoc on your digestion. Left unchecked, more severe intolerances can lead to a condition called leaky gut, where the gut wall becomes damaged and porous. When this happens, the body struggles to absorb all the nutrients it needs from the food you’re eating.
A leaky gut or a stressed gut doesn’t function optimally, which means you’re simply not getting the full benefit of your food and you may not be properly fuelling yourself, either for your workouts or your recovery after exercise.
- Battling the bloating
Bloating is an incredibly common side effect of food intolerance and can be extremely uncomfortable. Trying to exercise while bloated can be painful and you might find it difficult to give your workouts the energy and attention they need to be effective.
The swollen appearance of bloating can also mask the weight loss achieved by keeping your stomach looking distended and making your clothing feel tighter.
- Feeling fatigued
For some, food intolerances can lead to a general feeling of fatigue, with low energy and, at times, low mood. This can make it very difficult to maintain the motivation needed to commit to being consistent with your workouts and you may struggle to complete your exercises.
- Painful movement
Another symptom of food intolerance is joint pain. Inflammation in the body, caused by the IgG antibody reaction produced in response to your trigger foods, can cause painful swelling in the joints around your body. This can make exercising painful and hamper your flexibility and mobility.
Take control of your diet
Getting to the bottom of a food intolerance can be frustrating. A common recommendation is the elimination diet, where you remove one food at a time for a few weeks to see how you feel. But this process can take a long time. And, although many of us commonly react to a few different ingredients, the elimination diet is often abandoned when the first trigger food is found, leaving an incomplete picture of what’s causing the problem.
Get answers faster with Smartblood
When it comes to food intolerance testing, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable laboratory testing company.
At Smartblood, we offer a comprehensive test to help you take control of your diet quickly and discover your own trigger foods.
Our home-to-laboratory service gives you fast, accurate results that pinpoint exactly which foods you are reacting to. Tests are completed in our accredited laboratory by trained experts, with clear, easy to understand results sent to you via email within three days.
Dedicated nutritional support
Our tests also include a telephone consultation with our BANT registered Nutritional Therapist. This additional support is there to help you understand your results and put a plan together to make safe, sustainable changes to optimise your diet.
If you have specific health and fitness goals in mind, this session can be incredibly helpful, giving you a great understanding of the best foods to include in your diet to help fuel you.