At Home With Nature

My Experience with Food Chemical Intolerance Symptoms

I wrote recently about some of the accomplishments I’m proud of from the last decade.

Here’s one I’m less thrilled with: I have become an expert of sorts on food chemical intolerances, having developed four of them.

A food chemical intolerance is different than a plain old food intolerance. With food chemical intolerance, rather than reacting to a specific food, you are reacting to a whole class of foods that has a similar chemical feature.

For me it started with histamine intolerance, then I realized I was reacting to oxalates too. Several months after that I started wondering if I had salicylate sensitivity or sulfur sensitivity. Yay, me, I have both. The sulfur sensitivity is most likely because of hydrogen sulfide SIBO.

Those are not all the food chemical intolerances out there (I looked into nickel intolerance as well, and thank the food gods, I don’t seem to have that one.) There are others. I’m truly hoping I have no need to learn more about those.

In case you think you may have one of these food reactions as well, I thought I’d make a list of the symptoms I had that either disappeared or improved by managing my diet.

I’m currently on a low oxalate, low salicylate, and low sulfur diet, but started off with a low histamine approach.

Here are the symptoms I got relief from by adopting or layering in these different diets:

Symptoms that Disappeared or Improved

  • back pain (Ox, Su)
  • bloating (Su)
  • chest pain (Hi, Ox, Sa)
  • dizziness (Sa)
  • eczema (Su)
  • gout in toes (Ox)
  • gut pain (Ox, Sa, Su)
  • hangriness (Hi, Sa)
  • hypoglycemia (Sa)
  • feeling prematurely old (Ox)
  • insomnia, disturbed sleep (Hi, Ox, Sa, Su)
  • inflammation, generalized (Hi, Ox, Sa, Su)
  • inflamed skin on backs of hands (Ox, Sa, Su)
  • joint pain (Ox, Su)
  • lightheadedness (Sa)
  • lung irritation (Hi, Sa, Su, Ox)
  • nausea (Sa, Su)
  • painful periods (Hi, Ox, Sa, Su)
  • runny nose (Hi)
  • sore throat (Hi, Sa)
  • tachycardia (Hi, Ox, Sa, Su)
  • urinary urgency (Ox, Sa)

Hi = Histamine

Ox = Oxalate

Sa = Salicylates

Su = Sulfur

You might notice that there are a lot of histamine symptoms. What I’ve come to understand with the help of my dietician, is that the other sensitivities trigger my mast cells, causing a histamine cascade.

So I can eat a food that is not in itself high in histamine, such as cabbage, and it can cause a histamine reaction for me.

On the other hand, as time has gone by, my tolerance of foods high in histamine (but low in these other food chemicals) has improved.

It’s definitely not a straightforward business trying to figure this stuff out, even with good food journaling.

Which has me looking at the seedlings in my spring garden, wondering, “Hm, am I going to be able to eat you one day or not?”

If you’re having your own issues with food chemical intolerances, you might find yourself asking, like I have frequently asked, “Is it really possible for me to have this many issues with foods?”

Unfortunately for me, the answer seems to be yes. I keep doing experiments to make sure I’m really reacting to such and such and the answer seems to always be yes.

And as to why I have become so reactive to foods, I think the root cause of my problem is gut dysbiosis, also likely the cause of my SIBO, which is why I’m making restoring my gut microbiome a top priority.

Do you have multiple food chemical intolerances too? This “club” isn’t as small as you’d think. Although you may not be any more thrilled at being a member of this club than I am, I’ll extend you a warm welcome anyway! Best of luck with your own healing journey. Let me know what’s working for you, and what isn’t. And thanks for reading!

If you’re dealing with these issues as well, you might want to check out some of the resources that have helped me:

Salicylate Sensitivity Resources

This article does not intend to diagnose any health conditions or offer treatment advice. Please consult with your health practitioner before trying any supplements or making any dietary changes.

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