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Why are so many people suffering from food intolerances today compared to the past?

Tummy AcheWhy are so many people suffering from food intolerances today compared to the past?

Why are we reacting to foods that our grandparents had no problems with? Why has there been a 10 fold increase in food intolerances in the UK over the past 10 years? What is happening? A frightening survey in 2009 showed that nearly 50% of our population are suffering with food intolerances.

Modern day diet

Processed, artificial food

Our diet has changed so much when you think of what our grandparents ate. Think of all the processed artificial foods that people are eating, all the sweets, donuts, pot noddles, and fast food (only to mention a few) we are eating. Were these foods really designed for us to eat? Logic tells me that our natural environment is the best place to find food that is good for us.

So what are all these processed foods doing to our bodies? The chemicals and preservatives in these foods slowly destroy the delicate lining of our gut causing it to become ‘leaky’. This allows minute food particles into our blood which our immune system does not recognise. Our immune system launches an attack believing these particles are dangerous to our bodies. This attack is associated with the numerous symptoms linked to food intolerances. There is a clear correlation between the extent of damage to the gut lining and the number of foods people are intolerant to.

Lack of nutrients

Firstly, most of us are eating far less vegetables and much more starchy carbohydrates than our ancestors ate. Do you think that our great-grandparents ate the processed white bread that is the staple to many of our diets? Do you think they had huge plates of white rice and pasta on a regular basis? These foods were not available to our ancestors so they ate far more vegetables that were naturally organically grown.

Today, over farming and chemical fertilisers leave our soils alarmingly depleted of many vital nutrients. Intensive rearing of animals being fed on mainly a grain based diet rather than grass leave them very deficient in their omega 3 essential fats. We need plenty of vitamins, minerals and good fats to ensure that our digestive tract remains healthy.

Our Environment

Hygiene and chemical cleaners

As a child, I had the privilege of growing up on a farm and spending most of my time outside. We had dogs, horses and chickens. We would help feed the orphan lambs during spring and occasionally one would come into our kitchen to get warm if it had been out in the cold rain! We were given almost complete freedom as long as we were home in time for meals! It was a wonderful upbringing that many of today’s children never experience. Did you know that children who are in regular contact with farm animals have lower incidences of allergies and intolerances?

So why is it important for children to be out in nature? For one thing, it is thought that being in contact with a variety of micro-organisms and bacteria is essential for them to develop a strong immune system in later life. Nowadays, most of us are trigger friendly with anti-bacterial chemical household cleansers. Compare this with our ancestors who would use vinegar and water for cleaning. Also, many more people are choosing to live in cities rather than in the countryside.

Body care products

Have you ever looked at the ingredients and researched the side-effects of what you are putting on your skin or brushing your teeth with? If you do, I think you will be horrified! I wonder if our ancestors would have used these products?


At our home, we are fortunate enough to have a well in our garden where we get all our water from. The water is delicious and fresh. When I now drink other people’s tap water, the taste of chemicals is horrible. What do you think these chemicals are doing to our bodies?

Chemical Fertilisers and pollution

We have already talked about the impact of chemicals from food on our digestive tract.

Have you ever compared the taste of a carrot freshly picked from the garden compared with the taste of one bought from a supermarket. One is sweet and delicious, the other is often tasteless. This is because fertilisers enable plants to grow with only a limited number of nutrients whereas organically grown vegetables contain many trace nutrients. These trace nutrients are essential to our bodies and improve the taste dramatically! Also, organically grown vegetables must produce their own natural defence against environment challenges in order to survive. These natural defences are wonderful for our immune system.

Our Lifestyle

Antibiotics and drugs

Although antibiotics and other drugs have saved many of our lives, the cost we pay is a weakened immune system. Did you know that 70% of your immune system is in your digestive tract? We know that antibiotics work by killing harmful disease forming bacteria alongside the beneficial bacteria. One of the many jobs of our beneficial bacteria is to tag food particles in our digestive tract as friend or foe. These beneficial bacteria are ‘built-up’ by eating traditional fermented or cultured food and taking a broad spectrum probiotic. Without replacing your beneficial bacteria, harmful bacteria can take hold causing havoc with foods in your digestive tract. Did you know that most of our great-grand parents did not have fridges so had to use traditional methods such as fermentation and culturing to preserve food?


Have you ever felt that tight feeling in your stomach when you are stress? Have you ever had diarrhoea when you feel particularly nervous? Stress affects your digestive tract! Among many things, it affects your ability to digest and absorb your food properly allowing partially broken down food to stagnate in your digestive tract. This encourages a bacterial imbalance which then leads to the problems mentioned above.  Today’s world is far more stressful than it has ever been in the past.

So perhaps you now have a better idea of why there is such a huge increase in food intolerances today compared with the past. If you think that you are suffering with food intolerances, please do not hesitate to contact me. Some of the symptoms associated with food intolerances are mentioned in a previous blog. Please click here.

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