By Irina Gilligan

Food sensitivity (or food intolerance) is a very common problem that people have these days. Food sensitivity can develop in response to almost any kind of food. Gluten, dairy and sugar are among the most common causes of food sensitivities, and next in importance are peanuts, corn, soy, shellfish, and eggs.

Our bodies can react to problem foods by launching an immune response, causing either food allergy or food sensitivity. Allergies usually create severe, sometimes life-threatening situations. Food sensitivity may be more challenging to detect, due to the delayed response of the body and the occurrence of symptoms that are difficult to connect with food. The reaction to the food you eat today may occur immediately or 3 days later.

Both allergy and sensitivity cause excessive inflammation in the body. The offending food can initiate or aggravate a wide variety of symptoms, including gastrointestinal distress, pain and bloating, chronic colds, joint and muscle pain, migraines, hormonal dysfunction, skin infections, insomnia, anemia, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and many more issues.


Let’s take a look, for example, at how gluten sensitivity can affect the brain. Any food to which you have sensitivity could have an impact on inflammation in the brain. Gluten is one of such stress-ors that is known. Our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons constantly exchanging messages and commands with each other.

The gut controls brain function. The gut influences the neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters play a critical role in how we feel, and determine if we are happy or depressed. Their production is controlled by the bacteria in the gut. When there is an abnormal environment in the gut, the brain gets mixed messages. Inflammation in the gut causes inflammation in the brain. There is robust data demonstrating that many neurological problems start with the inflammation in the brain.

It has been shown in these studies that gluten decreases the blood flow to the brain, which means the brain has a lack of oxygen and key nutrients. This mechanism creates brain inflammation. It can show up in brain dysfunction, including headaches, ADHD, brain fog, memory issues, depression, movement disorders, seizures. In some cases, the inflammation in the brain does not result in symptoms that are immediately obvious, it could take years, but elevated antibodies nevertheless continue to kill brain cells. Of the people who are afflicted in this way, 93% get better if they remove a stress-or such as gluten from their diet. The solution is to stop the exposure to offensive food.

Causes of Food Intolerance

There are three main causes for food intolerance:

  • Offensive food. High-sugar foods, processed dairy and wheat can be as toxic to the body as environmental pollutants
  • Chemical toxins, such as pesticides, molds, preservatives, and additives
  • Infections, including oral infections, bacterial overgrowth, Helicobacter pylori, Epstein-Barr virus, Candida, and many others

Chemically contaminated food creates the biggest problem. When we ingest that food, our digestive enzymes are not able to carry out effective digestion of proteins that are bound to pesticides and other chemical contaminants. These toxins not only make food harder to digest, they also destroy the delicate lining of the gut. When the gut is damaged, the chemicals and the food proteins leak into the blood stream. The immune system is therefore compromised, and it attacks both the toxic chemicals and the food, leading to the loss of tolerance.

Peanut Free

This autoimmune response provokes excessive inflammation in the body, resulting in tissue damage, and eventually organ damage.

In order to treat this condition, we need to detect and address the disturbances associated with food sensitivity – chemical toxins, infections that must be treated, and triggers, the offensive food, that must be recognized and removed. With this approach to repair, the immune system begins to recover, and the body starts to heal. All the symptoms associated with food intolerance begin to disappear. Food sensitivity may be a wake-up call for us to change our eating habits, forcing us to clean up our diet and lifestyle, and to be in tune with our bodies.


Irina Gilligan

Irina Gilligan is a certified biontologist and has a Masters degree in chemical engineering. She lives and works in Fort Collins, CO and enjoys qigong, hiking, gardening, cooking. Irina can be reached at and (970) 581-5864.