Find Out the Connection Between Food Allergies and Weight Gain
More People Have Food Allergies Today than Ever Before
Allergies to certain foods will not only cause digestive and health problems but researchers believe delayed-onset food allergies can contribute to weight problems in several different ways. First, they can cause water retention and water weight gain. In practically all food allergy cases, partially digested food compounds pass through a compromised intestinal lining into the bloodstream and eventually travel to tissues, where they cause irritation and inflammation. The body tries to reduce this irritation by retaining water, which dilutes the concentration of the offending material. Storing excess water is the body’s way of attempting to dilute the poison entering the system while the fat cells expand to offer protection from the foreign invaders. The fat cells actually bloat up and act as buffers between the “toxic” chemicals and the organs. The body hangs on to the fat and water in order to ward off self-poisoning.
As a result, people with food allergies end up lugging around many pounds of toxins, water, and fat cell buffers. Inflammatory substances released during allergic reactions to food also affect weight control. Some chemicals involved in food allergies may inhibit metabolism, and prostaglandin E2, which is also released, inhibits the body’s ability to burn fat stores. Food allergies may therefore diminish the body’s ability to burn fat, a process known as lipolysis.
Food allergies often lead to food addictions, which further sabotage weight control in a variety of ways. One study published in the Lancet found that partially digested compounds in common food allergens act as morphine-like opioid drugs. This means that eating food allergens creates a temporary “high,” but when that feeling wears off, people crave the allergens again to get another euphoric “fix.” Eventually they eat these food allergens so often that they become physiologically ioand psychologically addicted. If they attempt to eat less of the foods they’re addicted to (as during calorie restricted diets), they may develop such uncontrollable cravings for those favorite foods that they end up bingeing on them. Binge-eating also contributes to weight gain.
Food allergies may or may not be actual allergies, with the typical bio-chemical reactions associated with allergies. In this sense, they should perhaps be called food “intolerance” or “sensitivity.” Many times, with allergies, the reaction is obvious. A person who is allergic to penicillin will usually have an instant reaction. The first attack is generally mild, and it is the later one, when the immune system is sensitized, during which an attack can be dangerous, even life threatening. Food allergies are often masked or mistaken for other conditions. In masked allergy, the body compensates with an addiction to the allergen. This is known to happen with nicotine, where people are allergic, but the body craves it. A similar phenomenon happens with some foods – the very food we crave the most generally makes us sick!
A food allergy specialist will generally ask the patient to write down his or her favorite foods. Then such foods will be immediately removed from the client’s diet. When someone is confirmed to suffer from food allergy/intolerance, the best way to alleviate the symptoms, whether they be illness or excess weight, is to stop eating the very foods they crave! This is not an easy thing to do. It can be a very difficult and slow process, often accompanied by physical withdrawal, which can last for a few days after not eating the allergens. Headaches and fatigue are quite common, but generally last for only a couple of days. When people do experience such withdrawal symptoms it’s a clear sign that they were in fact allergic/addicted to the foods they are now not eating. (Carbohydrate addiction is also caused by an allergy.)
Eliminating food allergens can therefore conceivably offer many benefits. It can alleviate bloating and water retention, help overcome food cravings and addictions, and boost metabolism and fat-burning lipolysis in some people.
Adopting a comprehensive approach to improving health, makes it possible to overcome food allergies and eventually increases the ability to eat most of the foods that once caused an allergic reaction. Some people find they must continue to avoid certain foods, but most are able to add former allergens back into their diets after several months without adverse effects. After reintroducing former food allergens into the diet, they should only be eaten on an infrequent or rotating basis. If people start overindulging in these foods they’re likely to redevelop food allergies and rapidly regain the weight lost by avoiding them. With the rotation diet and through the avoidance of repetitive food exposures, it is possible to reduce sensitivity to foods and accelerate recovery from food allergies. Nutritional supplements are also recommended based on the patient’s symptoms and general state-of-health.
Millions of Americans are on diets at any given time. Food allergies may explain why some of those diets work so well for some people but cause weight gain in others. It’s possible that some people actually lose weight by unknowingly eliminating allergenic foods. The type of foods eaten is often more important than calorie-intake. While weight control is a complex issue, many factors play a part. Eliminating hidden food allergens is not the only answer to weight control, but it’s often an overlooked piece of the puzzle.
Bente Hewitt is a long-time student of natural health modalities. She is nutritional consultant and founder of Intuitive Health Inc.