Temporary food intolerance after abstaining (dairy, oats, beans)

by 2611 · June 15, 2013 at 04:31 PM

  1. I never got gas from canned beans. Then I went two months eating only sprouted legumes. One day I ate a can of supermarket beans, and had comically bad gas for the next 12 hours. A few days later I ate a second can of beans, and had no gas whatsoever.

  2. There was never any sign I was lactose-intolerant. After a two-week trial of dairy free, just a little greek yogurt made me gurgle and burp and fart like mad. The next time I ate the same thing the reaction was much milder. The next day I slammed 12oz of skim milk with no noticeable reaction.

  3. I used to eat lots of rolled oats. Gave them up when I went paleo. Two months later I tried a very small portion (gluten-free), and had painful stomach cramps and smelly gas for half an hour. The second time I ate them I had very mild discomfort, and the third time almost no reaction.

  4. Non-paleo bonus: Before going paleo, I was near-vegetarian pescatarian for many years. When I started eating meat it made my sweat smell absolutely awful, but after a few days it went away.

Is this kind of temporary, acquired food intolerance common? Does anyone have thoughts on what causes it? I know lactase production is partly dependent on consuming lactose, but I don't have a clue about the others.

When someone goes off of a food that they thought was innocuous, and then has a bad reaction to starting it again, the usual interpretation is "it was making you sick all along but you just didn't notice." Could that sometimes be an error, based on a very temporary intolerance? (note sometimes; I know that sometimes it's very real.)

PS - I'm not looking to argue about whether these foods are bad and I should stay off of them forever. Just interested in understanding this temporary intolerance phenomenon.

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5 Replies

11664 · June 15, 2013 at 11:29 AM

As I've read, the body adjusts its enzyme production to the diet it's being fed. So a food that you used to be fine with might give you issues after a period of avoiding it. I asked a similar question a while back, here: http://paleohacks.com/questions/76767/cant-wrap-my-head-around-one-aspect-of-robb-wolfs-30-day-challenge#axzz2W5slgUOc

2923 · June 15, 2013 at 11:13 AM

The scenario you atalk about reminds me of this article I recently read which shined some lighton some detail of how bacterial populations and immune system activity are integrally linked, and how reintroducing carbs after going low carb for a while canlead to development of symptoms. While this isn't totally linked with what you're talking about, maybe it's possible that reinroducing foods that one hasn't had for a while lead to having symptoms because one lacks the enzymes and flora to properly digest the foodstuff in question following a period of abstention (hence fermentation occurs). Would be especially likely with fodmaps ala in beans. The raffinose in legumes leads to a lot of people having gas, although whether this is is necessary because of the raffinose being there or contingent on the state of the gut flora I'm not sure of (probably the latter though).


PS- I understand what you mean - A few months ago I tried some porridge made from oats, and had a similar feeling of gi discomfort as you describe. What it means - good question, I'm glad you asked and I hope there are people who answer who have more experience, knowledge than I do...

25 · June 15, 2013 at 04:31 PM

I had a similar experience with dairy. I drank and consumed dairy practically daily before paleo and had no adverse reactions. After I completed a whole 30 with no dairy I reintroduced it back into my diet and immediately got gas, cramps, and the runs the next day. But after eating dairy for maybe 3 consecutive days all symptoms disappeared. I'm guessing that dairy normally puts stress on my body, but if I''m constantly exposing it to the irritant, my body develops a type of immune response to it so long as I continue eating it.

I agree with @Renee that it most likely has to do with body enzyme production based on diet. Certain fruits and vegetables probably wouldn't cause a difference to your body even if you reintroduced them after abstaining from them for a period of time because they don't contain any proteins or "irritants" that require special enzymes to break down.

170 · June 15, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Very good question, I've really been wondering about this myself since I seem to react to a lot of foods that I abstained from for a while. This has the potential to be a major critique of e.g. the autoimmune protocol approach and could mean that a lot of people are self-diagnosing with intolerances that they don't actually have.

I have no idea as to the actual mechanisms involved. My reactions tend to vary in severity however, so I'm wondering, have you ever noticed anything other than just digestive issues and gas? When I try to reintroduce dairy/sprouted&fermented legumes for example I get extremely tired, experience urinary urgency and intense back pain. Have you ever noticed anything like this? I wonder if it is dose dependent, if this too would disappear after a while, or if it is an indication that there's more of an autoimmune reaction going on than with mere digestive upset.

236 · June 15, 2013 at 08:31 AM

That really is interesting... but alas, I am no expert and can offer no sound advice. What I'm guessing though is that common reply ("It was making you sick all along but you just didn't notice.") is true to a large extent, even in your case.

What I mean is, these foods are probably irritants to us all, even you, but that some people, yourself included, are able to reduce/mask/eliminate the symptoms/reactions. Just like the x % of the world's population that can safely consume dairy products as adults, the body has simply found a way to make due with the food it is presented.

Take away that irritating food for a while, the body just may breathe a sigh of relief as it must no longer work hard to assimilate said food. Adding it back into the diet may cause a bit of a shock to the system, before it has time to re-adjust to the irriant.


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