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  • Writer's picturefranceswalker@thefoodinto

Why foods only sometimes trigger symptoms

Updated: Jun 4, 2021

Can you tolerate a food one day but another day, the same food seems to trigger symptoms such as itchy skin or gut issues, migraines/headaches, or whatever your food issues are?

It can seem to be very confusing but it can make sense. It is all about DOSE and your PERSONAL THRESHOLD.

See the picture above....

🍅 The tomato in the first place did not trigger symptoms because the level of SALICYLATES in the body was very low so there was room for an increase of salicylates from the tomato to increase in the body but not hit the threshold.⁠ ⁠

The salicylates in the body reduce as it is broken down by the body and excreted by the kidneys which removes it from the body system.

☕ BUT... in the meanwhile some more salicylates are eaten- this time in the guise of a nice warm cup of tea. Tea is very high in salicylates. The level in the body rises, but not enough to hit the threshold... so no symptoms triggered. The body salicylate levels reduce as the salicylate is excreted, but each time the level it drops to is just a LITTLE BIT HIGHER THAN BEFORE!⁠

⁠🥑 Next on the scene is a nice ripe and mashable avocado and the salicylates dutifully rise, and ALMOST touch the threshold, but not quite. Salicylate levels again fall away but the base level is now quite high.⁠ ⁠

🍅 Another tomato, and - BANG-the threshold is hit and the symptoms occur with a vengeance 💣💣💣💣💣⁠ ⁠

But- the tomato did not cause an issue first time around- so how can that be? ⁠ ⁠ Because it all depends on the base load in the body at the time. How close you are to your threshold when you eat that food.

If you are far away from your threshold, then you are less likely to react.

If you are close to your threshold then you are more likely to hit this threshold and trigger symptoms.

The same thing applies if you eat something that contains the problem food but in a low dose- it is less likely to reach your personal threshold so you may not react.

Alternatively, you can be a long way from your personal threshold but eat a food in large enough amounts or that contains a high enough base to take you directly to your personal threshold and trigger your symptoms.

On top of all this- your personal threshold is not set in stone- it is dynamic. This means it can move up and down depending on a number of different and interacting factors.

What modifies your personal threshold?

  • Being sick reduces your threshold so you will have less room under your threshold level, thus react more easily

  • Hormones- for example you maybe more likely to get migraines during or leading into your menstrual cycle

  • Hormones /growth periods- you are more likely to react during periods of growth such as young babies, young children as well as nearing puberty for example towards the end of primary school

  • During pregnancy- the hormonal changes can decrease or increase (more likely) your personal threshold. This is quite nice as you can often liberalise your diet during this time.

Do you sometimes have a food that seems ok but other times causes issues? If you are salicylate or amine or glutamate sensitive then what you are seeing is the dose/threshold coming into play.⁠

While sometimes you may be *lucky* enough to see a direct link between the offending food and symptoms, for most people with these sensitivities - you can't join the dots between the foods and the symptoms - the THRESHOLD/DOSE thing means you may have a food and be FINE and then another day have the same food and react.⁠

If this resonates with you, then try to think about the types of foods you have been having in the week leading up to your symptoms being triggered rather than just laying the blame on the last food eaten.

Remember- it is all about dose in the foods eaten and where your baseline body levels are currently at.

If you are constantly having symptoms- it is likely your body levels are always sitting above your personal threshold level. An elimination diet can help to reduce baseload levels and identify the offending food components through specially designed challenges.


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