If you’ve been struggling with losing or maintaining weight, then you already know that what you eat plays a big role in the number that shows up on the scale. Packing on tons of calories every day will cause you to store the extra as fat, and spending more calories than you take in will cause you to lose weight. It’s a fundamental principal; however, the argument that food sensitivities or intolerances play an integral role in triggering weight gain is gaining ground. As the American diet packs in more modified foods and known digestive enemies like gluten, dairy, and some types of sugars, the body’s natural response can manifest as inflammation and subsequent extra pounds.
What’s the difference between a food allergy and a sensitivity/intolerance?
True food allergies trigger a systemic immune response when a person is exposed to a food they are allergic to. In some cases, this may trigger the development of a rash, hives, swelling of the lips or face and life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Food sensitivities are much subtler and don’t trigger these types of reactions. Instead, these foods cause the body to release chemicals that trigger inflammation. This inflammation might result in a level of discomfort, but when it compounds and inflammation continues throughout your life, it can lead to severely debilitating diseases such as dementia. There’s also a purported link between chronic inflammation and cancer, making these reactions more serious than you might initially think. Researchers say that 1 in 4 Americans has a true food allergy and a much higher number could have a food sensitivity or intolerance.
Food reactions don’t hit immediately
While it’s easy to think that you would recognize a food intolerance or sensitivity immediately, they often aren’t recognizable until they’ve been allowed to manifest. Sometimes reactions take days to show up, and by then the potential link between the foods and the symptoms is essentially out of mind, resulting in a missed connection that could lead to even more intolerance, and more symptoms, in the future. Those who find that they have multiple symptoms should keep a food and symptom diary that notes each meal and every symptom, for easy pinpointing.
Typical Food Intolerance and Sensitivity Symptoms
There are many signs that you can look for when noting symptoms in a diary. The most common include digestive trouble like gas, bloating and diarrhea. Sleep problems are at the top of the list as well. If you find that you have insomnia, constantly awaken during the night and experience fatigue throughout the day, it’s worth noting.
Symptoms often manifest physically as well, showing up in your hair and skin. If you have healthy hair that suddenly turns dull and lifeless, or experience a severe acne outbreak, it could be a warning sign of an intolerance or sensitivity. The only way to really correlate the link is by active record-keeping and discussing all symptoms with your doctor or nutritionist. A few other tell-tale signs include loss of energy, a drastic change in mood and constant muscle aches and pains.
You should always pay close attention to the way you look because bags around the eyes and droopy skin that come on suddenly are a visual clue that something’s going on. You might not be able to see what’s going on internally, but you can certainly gauge your appearance and your moods.
The Most Commonly Linked Foods
While everyone is different, there are some common culprits when it comes to intolerance and sensitivity. If nothing else works, try eliminating one or many of these elements to see if your symptoms change—or even better—disappear.
- Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
It’s not necessary to cut out all of these items from your diet, but if you eliminate one at a time, you might begin to see dramatic changes and finally be able to pinpoint the one or many items that are responsible. The recommended time frame is approximately three weeks, though you might notice a change immediately.
The most noticeable improvements will be increased energy, hair and skin that glow, and an overall better mood. Once you identify the culprit or culprits, you can begin to make dietary changes to ensure that you eliminate, or at the very least limit, these types of food. The end result is a happier, healthier and slimmer you!
The intolerance-inflammation-weight gain link
In two European-based studies, researchers have found evidence that some people who carry extra pounds have more going on inside their bodies. Compared to study participants within ‘normal’ weight, heavier subjects had higher levels of inflammatory compounds known as C-reactive proteins as well as higher levels of IgG, the immune marker that increases in response to food intolerances. And it wasn’t a slight increase either—overweight patients had 300% more C-reactive proteins and 250% more IgG. That’s significant, especially when you consider it doesn’t take much to cause internal issues.
This information further compounds the idea that, as trigger foods are introduced into the body, they meet the intestines where they irritate and pass through the lining of the gut into the blood stream. This is a condition called leaky gut. As these food particles circulate, the body raises its inflammatory response to fight the invader and triggers a system-wide state of inflammation. Hormones are released in response to the inflammation including some that could leave you with too much free circulating insulin—triggering fat storage and insulin resistance.
Even though there’s still much to be learned about the link between food intolerances, inflammation, and weight gain, many medical experts believe the link is undeniable. Services such as genetic profile testing provided by Pathway Genomics can give insight into how you respond to nutrients and help you pinpoint more effective ways to lose weight. At the very least, you’ll gain an understanding as to the inner workings of your body in particular and how various foods that are supposedly good for you, in fact, bring more harm than good.
Want to submit a guest post? Read HealthResource4u guest submission guidelines.