Depending on the individual, there can be many reasons why you have difficulty losing weight. Culprits may be both emotional and physical, including food sensitivities.The food sensitivities I’m talking about here are not food allergies. A classic food allergy is when someone eats peanuts, and they immediately get hives with swelling of their throat. True food allergies are mediated by immunoglobulin E.
Food sensitivities that contribute to the inability to lose weight are meditated by other components of your immune system like immunoglobulin G. These types of food sensitivities may have a delayed reaction of up to three days, and may cause a multitude of symptoms including bloating, fatigue, headache, and joint pains.
The inability to lose weight due to food sensitivities is related to excessive inflammation. Excessive inflammation is a well-known root cause for many health problems. Your body’s immune system is always working to protect you from what it perceives as an enemy, and it protects you by producing an inflammatory response. So a little inflammation is actually good for you, but when your body’s inflammatory response becomes excessive, it’s bad for you.
So how does food create excessive inflammation in your body? Part of the answer lies in the integrity of the lining of your intestinal tract. This is because the lymphoid tissue surrounding your intestines makes up over 70% of your immune system. When your gut gets leaky, the immune cells in this lymphoid tissue go into overdrive and pump out excessive inflammatory mediators.
Leaky gut, also known as intestinal hyperpermeability, is very common, and has multiple causes. Some causes include stress, antibiotics, bacterial overgrowth, yeast overgrowth, parasites, toxins, and food sensitivities.
Food sensitivities are on the list because they perpetuate the cycle of inflammation contributing to the leakiness of your intestinal barrier. It’s like a snake eating its tail, and you’ve got to intervene on multiple levels to correct it. One intervention is to eliminate foods you are sensitive to, which results in a reduction of this excessive inflammation.
When your gut is leaky, incompletely digested food molecules leak into your immune system’s lymphoid tissue surrounding your intestines. When your immune system senses these incompletely digested food molecules, it reacts by labeling them as an enemy. Once food is labeled an enemy, your immune system produces excessive inflammation every time you eat this food.A major problem is that this excessive inflammation spreads to the rest of your body resulting in a wide variety of symptoms depending on the individual. These symptoms may include weight gain or the inability to lose weight.
Excessive inflammation can contribute to weight gain by keeping your body in a stress response. Stress triggers your adrenal glands to release extra cortisol, which tricks your body into retaining fat, especially around your waist. In addition, excessive inflammation produces extra water weight. Think about what happens when an area of your body gets inflamed. It swells.
We don’t know exactly why some foods get labeled an enemy and others don’t, but leaky gut usually plays a role. So to correct leaky gut, you have to intervene at multiple areas. These interventions include better management of your stress, taking a probiotic, eliminating sugar to starve off yeast, starting an organic diet to eliminate toxins, and eliminating the most common food sensitivities.
The most common food sensitivities include corn, dairy, eggs, gluten-containing grains (wheat, barley, rye, spelt), cane sugar, shellfish, soy, beef, pork, processed meats, coffee, tea, and chocolate. Some advocate food sensitivity testing to determine your sensitivities, but the most tried and true method is a comprehensive elimination diet.
I have seen many patients in my practice start to lose weight for the first time in years when they start eliminating the most common food sensitivities. And some of those patients had tried multiple different types of diets with no success.
The key is to give this elimination diet at least three to four weeks to let your body’s immune system reset. Then you have the option of reintroducing foods one at a time every three days. During the reintroduction period, be on the lookout for old symptoms such as fatigue, bloating, joint pains, weight gain, and headaches. If those recur in that three-day period, you’ll know you need to stay off of that particular food. Rapid weight gain is a sign of fluid retention.
I’ve posted a copy of The Institute for Functional Medicine’s Comprehensive Elimination Diet on my website for you to download. Give it a shot. What do you have to lose except weight?