Food Sensitivities Start in the Gut

Your gut (starting with the mouth and ending at the opposite end) is instrumental when it comes to food allergies and sensitivities. In altered gut function, the probability of allergies or skin disorders is more likely to occur. Understanding this relationship can help to eliminate the challenges of food and skin sensitivities.

In your gut you have “good” bacteria, yeasts and other microbes that are essential to the health of the whole body – this is referred to as your “gut microbiota”. You also have “bad” bacteria and microbes. Most of these are naturally in your gut, and belong there (with some exceptions), and as long as they are low enough in numbers compared to the “good guys”, all is well. When the “bad guys” dominate, or are not well controlled by the “good guys”, disease occurs. This condition is called “dysbiosis”.

This unhealthy dysbiosis increases the risk of developing allergies through several mechanisms, which involve Immune system regulation, gut barrier function and inflammatory processes.

In the gut lining, certain elements from food and waste metabolites are supposed to remain in the intestines for elimination, and some are supposed to be absorbed. If there is damage to this membrane, then some of the substances that are not supposed to be absorbed, do get absorbed, causing an immune response which includes inflammation and the release of histamines. The mechanism is somewhat complex, but when this happens, you experience it as an allergy, skin condition or asthma. All of this is a normal response to an abnormal situation the body is trying to compensate for.

Damage to the gut lining is causative. Damage from medications (antibiotics, NSAIDS, acid-stopping meds, steroids, chemotherapy); certain foods (highly processed foods, sugar, soda, coffee, gluten or dairy  if susceptible, alcohol, bad fats, artificial sweeteners); lifestyle factors (chronic stress, inadequate sleep, inactivity, smoking); environmental factors (pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals); and infections, can all play a role in the breakdown of the gut lining (also called “Leaky Gut”).

Acupuncture can be quite effective in restoring gut health and potentially preventing or alleviating allergies. It works by regulating the autonomic and enteric nervous systems, reducing inflammation, modulating immune responses, enhancing gut barrier integrity, supporting a healthy gut microbiota and supporting mucosal immunity. It is also helpful in alleviating the misery associated with compromised gut health.

Essential fatty acids, protein, minerals and vitamins all play important roles. Herbs that help to reduce inflammation, protect and heal the gut lining and support overall digestive health can be helpful. Eliminating poor quality food, smoking, and getting adequate sleep and reducing stress, are all essential for healing.

The gut plays a vital role in the allergy mechanism. Most factors we have control over. However, addressing just one of the many contributors to unhealthy gut is not enough. It is a multifactorial problem that needs a complex, multifaceted approach.  But with help, you can restore your health.

Want to hear more from Dr. Carling? Check out our podcast. Search for VitalHealth4You on your favorite podcast listening app or go to

©2024 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.

Medical/Health Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article or podcast should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this article or podcast. Readers/listeners should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author, but readers/listeners who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

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