Industrial Food Sickness

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Use whole food from a quality source as your medicine. But even the best food doesn't agree with everyone. Additives can be a real problem for some.

All disease begins in the gut.
Hippocrates

Since my family has been eating exclusively whole, unprocessed foods for over three years, I have noticed a strange occurrence. When my girls go to birthday parties or indulge in holiday festivities such as Halloween or Easter, they don’t feel very well afterward. After eating the processed foods out of the Industrial Food System, the girls become nauseous and complain about stomach pain within a few hours. My eldest daughter has vomited a number of times after these meals. My youngest daughter is very sensitive to something in these foods. More often than not, it causes behavioral problems for a day or two after eating the processed food. My husband occasionally eats out at restaurants and complains about not feeling well after most meals. Even our cat Tabs, who has been on a raw meat diet since we got her, has become sick from getting into a friend’s processed cat food. As I observe their sickness, I notice it is like a mild flu that includes stomach upset or vomiting.

Now my family has not eaten unprocessed foods our whole lives. We used to eat processed foods everyday without feeling sick. (Okay, my family wasn’t the picture of health, but we weren’t vomiting after a meal either.) One would hope that eating nourishing traditional foods regularly would strengthen a person’s constitution so an occasional meal of highly processed foods would have no effect. But the reverse appears to be true. The longer my family eats nourishing traditional foods, the more sensitive we become to these processed foods.

Why are they now having industrial food sickness? Why in the past did these same processed foods not cause sickness? What has changed? I have been thinking about this question for quite some time. It is hypothesized that the healing action of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is that it changes the composition of gut flora or reverses gut dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis is the lack of gut flora or an unhealthy gut flora imbalance which causes illness.

What if this progressive industrial food sickness is caused by changes in the gut flora community? Do the processed foods damage or kill healthy gut flora? Does the gut flora “communicate” this damage to the “gut brain” causing the feeling of sickness? The gut brain is an extensive grouping of neurons in the digestive system, which gut flora attaches to and chemically communicates with the nervous system. What if the gut flora community is causing the feeling of being sick after my family eats the processed foods?

This would explain the progressive nature of industrial food sickness and why it seems to worsen the longer my family eats nourishing traditional foods. The longer my family eats better, the stronger the population of healthy gut flora becomes. As the healthy gut flora population increases, it can send a very strong message to the nervous system that the processed food is making the gut flora’s environment poisonous to them. The reason why the processed food did not cause illness before eating nourishing traditional foods is because of gut dysbiosis. There was not enough healthy gut flora to send a strong message of dismay to the nervous system about our food choices.

One thing I notice is that it is getting easier to get my children to eat better. Every round of industrial food sickness reinforces good eating patterns. The sad part is thinking about all of the people walking around with very sick gut flora communities, too weak to send a danger warning. Most people are not aware that we are indeed “individuals” but our bodies are a vast and complex microcosm of interrelating organisms. We are in peril if we forget that we interface with the environment on a microscope level and our first line of defense is our symbiotic gut flora community.

For more information about this topic please read What is a Healthy Gut? For more information about gut dysbiosis please read Gut and Psychology Syndrome and GAPS In Our Medical Knowledge. For more information about the gut brain connection please read Breaking the Vicious Cycle.

7 thoughts on “Industrial Food Sickness

  1. Yesterday, I received an email from Mary Anna who has worked on ranches most of her life. She said:

    I have been cooking from scratch most of my adult life. Even when I cooked on ranches, I put the processed foods away and cooked from scratch. The cowboys always said how much better they felt. After some months, they came home from town trips saying, “save me, I gorged on beer and junk food and I am sick.”

    Neal and I always feel the affects of going to the city and eating out. Yogurt in the first food we crave upon getting home.

    I think your thoughts on it indeed are correct.

  2. My son, 3, does not sleep well after eating industrial foods – namely the dessert variety of ‘modified milk ingredients’.

    My in-laws think I’m imagining things, too. I’m uncomfortable after such and thus avoid them.

    Today’s anecdotal evidence would be a case study in the time of Hippocrates, I figure.

    Michelle

  3. This is a response about Industrial Food Sickness from Ellen Ussery of Urban Homestead. She is also a Weston A Price Leader:
    To me it is just like smoking..with your first cigarette you become ill. Your body is sending you a message that this is not good for it. But if you keep smoking you “adjust” on a superficial level, the damage may take place nevertheless, but you don’t feel anything in response to each cigarette.

    With food, in many cases you don’t notice the initial response. Often because you are not aware of the possible connection at that time. But it works the same way. Your body tamps down its immediate response after a while. (Why waste the energy, if you aren’t listening to it?)

    Once you all cleaned up your diet you became sensitive once again to what is good for you and what is not. I don’t know how this happens, but it does and I am not sure it is even important to understand all the particulars or if we can do more than speculate on them. But the phenomenon is not uncommon and I do not think it is imaginary.

  4. While it appears there is a connection between the gut and the brain, this is bleeding edge research and will not get sorted out for decades, if ever. (Actually I hope mainstream researchers ignore this as they will just do creepy stuff like develop chemicals that make us want Big Macs.)

    I suspect the process works like this:

    1. The foods you eat selectively favor certain species of gut flora.
    2. The flora are able to stimulate your brain to guide you towards foods they like. This often manifests as cravings.

    One strategy for combating cravings is to starve the flora that contribute to cravings and feed other flora that like real food.

    While I agree that this may be A factor, I don’t think it is THE factor.

    Industrial food is loaded with chemicals, added to food and via GMO. The human body is very adaptive and I suspect that this phenomena is simply a standard dose response phenomena. Many drugs lose their effectiveness over time requiring hire doses. This is driven by tow factors:
    1. receptor de-sensitization
    2. improving detoxification efficiency.

    I suspect that many of the chemicals mimic other natural chemicals in terms of receptor activity. Many of the chemicals are toxic and have to go through detox pathways.

    So to sum up, I think that when you eat industrial food, your body becomes de-sensitized to the chemicals and gets better at detoxifying them. When you stop eating industrial foods and start eating real food, you will become highly sensitive to the chemicals and your body’s detox system is not conditioned to the chemicals.

    This is certainly true with alcohol and tobacco. If you drink heavily, you can drink a lot. If you quit drinking for years, it only takes a little bit to make you sick. (Personal experience and that of other ex-drinkers)

    Cheers,
    Paul

  5. Pingback: What is a Healthy Gut?

  6. Pingback: Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)

  7. Since 2010 I have been experiencing what I called “MY virus” … because that what it felt like…. Terrible headache, dizziness, nausea ( but never any vomiting or diarrhea) and exhaustion – and a terrible overall feeling of not feeling well. I thought it was just something that was living in my gut that got awakened from time to time. It would happen anywhere from 2-5 times a year and I was totally incapacitated by it – I felt so awful! Just recently, I’ve associated it with eating in restaurants. I eat out very infrequently. There are some restaurants that I eat in where this never happens. The weird thing is that this reaction does not happen immediately – it seems to progress and get worse over 2-3 days until it reaches it peak – I think that’s why it took me so long to put it together that it was the eating out that caused the problem. It’s difficult to get ginger ale, club soda or even chicken soup down! Dehydration is a problem until you get to the point where you can even think about putting something in your mouth! UGH! This is such a pain! Going out with your friends and having a cocktail and nice meal is so much fun! Now I avoid it! ALSO! I can’t have a glass of wine or a beer anymore!!!! And my kids all complain about the same thing! We all feel awful after a glass of wine or a beer, but can handle a liquor drink better!

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