One of the many challenges with food sensitivities is learning triggers aren't always foods. Yes, it may still be dairy or gluten or salicylate…but it doesn't always have to be in your food.
Triggers in meds and supplements
A sneaky place for a lot of allergens and food sensitivity triggers is in medications and supplements. Every product has inactive ingredients, even if it's just the capsule holding the herb or vitamin. Common inactive ingredients are gelatin (beef), lactose (dairy), soybean oil and corn oil. And all of these are known to cause problems for some folks…
One woman I see is sensitive to beef. She has to read every label because gelatin capsules are made from beef. And, yes, she reacts to them. Another woman is allergic to sulfur and has to ask the pharmacist about every new pill she takes. I am allergic to dairy and can tell when I take a new supplement (even a homeopathic) that includes lactose.
Think maybe just that little bit doesn't matter? Consider how often you take that medication or supplement. That's a chronic trigger for inflammation that just feeds food sensitivity reactions.
Triggers in body care products
Yup, even your favorite lotion, lip balm or hair conditioner may be aggravating your food sensitivities. Forget the fact that women apply an average 168 different chemicals to their bodies every day, according to the EWG, these same products may be another source of exposure to food triggers.
A recent study (very small so it does have some limitations) demonstrated that goat's milk in body care products can actually trigger an allergy to goat's milk. To take this a step further, goat's milk and cow's milk commonly cross-react, increasing the concern for more than just a goat's milk allergy. And allergies increase the risk for leaky gut and food sensitivities. However you look at it, what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it.
Don't trust the label…
It's nice when companies tell you in big letters that a product is "hypoallergenic"...but there is no formal definition of what hypoallergenic means. There are no standards. The FDA does not regulate "hypoallergenic". Ultimately, it's up to the company making the product to determine the definition and if their product is hypoallergenic.
In fact, a Federal court struck down an FDA regulation which would have required cosmetic manufacturers to provide testing evidence supporting the claim of "hypoallergenic". That was in 1978!
I believe learning how to live with food sensitivities is next level self-care. It's all about knowing the potential triggers that will aggravate your symptoms and making your own decision on how to manage it all. If you're struggling with your food sensitivity symptoms right now and nothing seems to make a difference, take a look at the other stuff you put in your body and on your body.
You're not crazy. There is a trigger hiding somewhere!
Sixty-second Self-Care Tip…
This one may seem a little random, but if you struggle with canker sores - those pale, crater-looking, very painful sores in your mouth or on your lips - this self-care tip is for you. (When I was in high school and college and my allergies were at their worst, I had canker sores all the time! They are very different from herpes sores.)
A common cause of canker sores is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) which is commonly found in hair products, soaps and even toothpastes!
Spend a little time reading labels and finding a new toothpaste if you see that ingredient. In fact, you might do so even if you're not dealing with canker sores!
Hey there! Have you ever been tested for food allergies? What about food sensitivities? No clue what to ask for or even whom to ask? Snag a copy of my FREE resource, Food Sensitivity Testing: Which test is right for you?
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. "'Hypoallergenic' Cosmetics." FDA, https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-labeling-claims/hypoallergenic-cosmetics. Accessed 11 August 2022.
Wiley Online Library. "Goat milk skin products may cause the development of goat milk allergy." Wiley, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cea.14133. Accessed 10 August 2022.