Your chronic health issues could be rooted in seemingly innocent foods. We’ll help you find out. The foods we eat feed either wellness or illness. So when it comes to chronic health problems, nutrition is key. But eating healthy is about more than fad diets and calorie counts. Your body has unique nutritional needs. Each person is bioindividual, meaning that different combinations of genetics and environmental factors make us all different. This individuality can mean the same foods act like medicine for some and poison for others. If you eat a clean diet but still struggle with uncomfortable or debilitating long-term symptoms, you could be dealing with an underlying food intolerance or sensitivity. Food reactivity can cause these symptoms and more: Bloating or gas Nausea or vomiting Heartburn Headaches or migraines Brain fog Fatigue Diarrhea Constipation Inflammation Abdominal pain Muscle or joint pain Rashes Itchiness How is this different from an allergy? Food allergies involve the immune system. If it mistakenly identifies specific proteins as harmful, it will overreact to certain foods. Symptoms are typically prompt and severe. Intolerance and sensitivity aren’t as clear-cut. They’re also marked by a negative response to specific foods. But unlike allergies, they could have any of several root causes. One possible reason behind these gut irritations is a deficiency of enzymes that help you digest the food in question. This is known as intolerance. A common example is lactose intolerance, where your body can’t break down the sugars in dairy because it lacks the enzyme lactase. Like allergies, food sensitivities occur when your immune system reacts to a food. But in contrast, the symptoms are delayed and not life-threatening. People with a sensitivity can sometimes eat small amounts of a trigger food without a problem. One common example is non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The immune system creates antibodies against gluten proteins, but the reaction isn’t as severe as an allergy — or an autoimmune reaction like celiac disease. Reactions to an intolerance or sensitivity are not as consistent, immediate, or obvious as allergic reactions. But they can still be debilitating. And the lack of clarity makes triggers difficult to pinpoint. It can even mean these problems are affecting your well-being completely undetected. How can I identify a food intolerance or sensitivity? Food sensitivity testing can be a good place to start. But an elimination diet is the gold standard for specific and accurate results. The first step of an elimination diet is to stop eating the most commonly problematic foods. For a time, you’ll work on restoring gut health and reducing inflammation. This should improve your overall health and food tolerance. After the initial detox phase, you’ll start adding foods back into your diet one at a time. During this slow-and-steady reintroduction process, you’ll make careful observations about what you consume and how you feel. By the end of this exercise, you should have a clear picture of any seemingly innocent foods that are causing chronic symptoms. As a Forum Health member, you’re not alone. An elimination diet can be challenging. That’s why we provide ongoing access to a personal health coach. They’ll help you identify and eat the right foods. And along with your provider, they’ll be there to guide you beyond the initial program. At Forum Health, we don’t settle for short-term improvements. We’ll help you make a sustainable food plan based on a complete assessment of your symptoms and lab results. And we always strive to communicate the “why” and the “how” — not just the “what.” Trained in both nutrition science and counseling, our health coaches are uniquely qualified to help you overcome barriers to reaching your wellness goals.