In a comment from one of our astute readers, the topic of food allergies came up. I was stumped. Maybe I’m not alone in trying to make sense of the very confusing information out there on the web and trying to apply it to my situation as a woman with a significant mobility limitation.

I went to the nutrition expert on our research team, Dr. Tracey Ledoux at the University of Houston’s Texas Obesity Research Center, and asked her some key questions. Here is what she said:

Q: What is a food allergy?

A: Food allergies are when your body’s immune system reacts to certain foods like eggs, peanuts, wheat, strawberries, shellfish. Symptoms of an allergy include hives, skin irritation (itchy, blotchy appearance), swelling around the point of ingestion (mouth, throat, lips), difficulty breathing, and/or tightness in throat, within 10-20 minutes after eating. Vomiting can also occur with allergic reactions to food. An allergy can start out mild and worsen over time, so if you are allergic to a food item it is best to avoid it altogether. Some people eventually develop severe allergic reactions to particular foods and need to carry a special shot (epi pen) of epinephrine (adrenaline) around with them in case they accidentally ingest the food to which they are allergic. Severe reactions are called anaphylactic syndrome and can be life threatening.

Q: What is the connection, if any, between food allergies and weight gain?

A: There is none. Weight gain occurs when energy consumed from food is used to build tissue. During times of growth (childhood, pregnancy) energy is used to build lean tissue (muscle, bone, organs), but without growth, excess energy intake is stored in adipose (fat) tissue. Food allergies do not cause weight gain. A reaction to consuming a food one is allergic to can cause temporary swelling but this is not permanent or part of permanent cell structures.

Q: What do you think might be the connection between food allergies and disabling conditions?

A: Food allergies are related to the immune system. Certainly disabling conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia, are related to the autoimmune system. Some research is going on, but we just don’t know yet what, if any, connection exists.

Q: What is the difference between food allergies and food intolerance?

A: Food intolerance refers to an inability or reduced ability of the gut to digest or absorb certain nutrients. As these nutrients pass through the gut undigested, the gut microflora of the colon feed on this source of nutrition. Some of the byproducts of gut bacteria feeding on undigested nutrients in the colon are gas and water which causes he person to experience gas, bloating, flatulence, soft or watery stool, diarrhea, etc. Individuals can have an intolerance for specific foods (e.g., gluten in wheat, lactose in milk, fructose in fruit) or have a medical condition that causes intolerance for a wide variety of foods (e.g., Crohn’s disease).

Q: Where can we go for good, reliable information on this confusing topic?

A: The website EatRight.org, by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, gives good information based on scientific evidence about food allergies and intolerances. I really don’t know any resources that have examined the connection between food allergies or intolerances and disabilities, especially those disabilities that are based on autoimmune diseases. Maybe that will be our next study!

-By Margaret A. Nosek, Ph.D., and Tracey A. Ledoux, Ph.D., R. D.

Food Sensitivities That Can Make You Fat

It’s not surprising to hear about Hollywood celebrities on restrictive diets, but lately everyone from Kim Kardashian to Miley Cyrus is coming forward to say not that they won’t eat certain foods, but that they can’t, due to food sensitivities. Not to be confused with food allergies, food sensitivities are typically not life-threatening, and sufferers deal with symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, bloating, and GI distress. And in some cases, it can also make you gain weight.

According to nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin, co-host of TLC’s Freaky Eaters, 70 percent of people have some type of food sensitivity, the most common culprits being dairy, wheat, sugar, corn, soy, peanuts, and eggs. “If a ‘sensitive’ person were to eat these foods regularly, it would create a reaction that raises insulin and cortisol, both of which make you better at storing fat, especially around the midsection, and it’s even harder to burn it off,” Virgin says. “This immune reaction also paradoxically makes them crave the very foods that are hurting them thus creating a vicious cycle that is hard to break out of.”

Related:

The only true way to find out if you have a food sensitivity is an ‘elimination diet,’ where you cut out these so-called ‘troublemaker’ foods, and then slowly introduce them back into your diet to see how you react with each one (typically under a doctor’s supervision).

These five celebs found out which foods were making them sick-and completely cut them out of their diets!

Celiac Disease: Elisabeth Hasselbeck

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Perhaps one of the most vocal on food sensitivities, The View co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck was so open about her self-diagnosed Celiac Disease (an extreme intolerance for gluten) that she wrote a cookbook on it. Surely other Celiac sufferers like Jennifer Esposito and Emmy Rossum appreciate it!

Dairy, Wheat, and Eggs: Zooey Deschanel

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The 32-year old Zooey Deschanel can’t stomach dairy, wheat, or eggs. But don’t call the New Girl actress insensitive-she reportedly gets ‘special’ meals delivered to her trailer so no one else has to suffer as a result of her sensitivities.

Gluten Reaction: Miley Cyrus

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When teen-star Miley Cyrus seemingly shed all her baby fat, reports surfaced that she may suffer from an eating disorder. In response, Cyrus took to Twitter to dispel rumors and say that her weight loss was actually the result of a lactose and gluten sensitivity.

“Everyone should try no gluten for a week,” she tweeted. “The change in your skin, physical, and mental health is amazing!”

Kim Kardashian recently joined Cyrus in the G-free boat, tweeting “Gluten free is the way to be.”

Sugar (and More): Gwyneth Paltrow

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Life just isn’t so sweet for Gwyneth Paltrow. In 2010 the Country Strong actress declared war on sugar and how the entire country should kick our addiction to it, saying “our bodies cannot cope with such an enormous load. gives you an initial high, then you crash, then you crave more, so you consume more sugar. It’s this series of highs and lows that provoke unnecessary stress on your adrenals.”

She also wrote on her GOOP blog that she took an “in-depth” food sensitivity test, only to learn she also couldn’t tolerate dairy, gluten, wheat, corn, or oats. Wonder what Paltrow does eat?

Wheat: Rachel Weisz

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Please don’t pass the bread basket. Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz has publicly stated she can’t tolerate wheat, which has been linked to triggering migraines in those who can’t digest the grain.

  • By Jené Luciani

The Obesity-Allergy Link

Dr Nicola Davies, author of ‘I Can Beat Obesity!’, considers the relationship between the two conditions.
It is thought that around one in four adults in the UK are obese (the highest prevalence in Europe at 24.9%).1 In addition, the number of people affected by one or more allergies is thought to be more than one in four, with some sources indicating that the numbers could be as high as 45%.2 The prevalence and co-existence of both conditions has led to many studies being conducted into whether or not there is a link between the two; are people who suffer from one or more allergies more likely to be obese, and why? Or is obesity a causal factor in developing an allergy?, and any evidence that might support such a link.

What is the Evidence?
Many studies have been conducted in the areas of obesity and allergies to look at whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. The association between obesity and conditions such as allergic asthma, eczema, and food allergies is well documented, with links that have been investigated including lifestyle choices and physiological factors (such as immune system diseases or other medical conditions). Allergies considered within these studies are varied, and include atopic conditions (such as eczema, allergic rhinitis, and allergic asthma) and food allergies – although it should be noted that other substances such as drugs, latex, and insect venom can also cause allergic reactions.

Obesity can in some cases be caused by underlying medical or genetic conditions, but in the majority of cases it is largely caused by environmental factors and lifestyle choices, and can as a result be thought of as a lifestyle disease. Conversely, allergies are largely considered to be caused by a hypersensitive immune system. The link between obesity and allergies, therefore, could be broken down further to consider how lifestyle choices influence the body’s immune system. However, there are of course circumstances in which obesity is not caused by lifestyle, and this also needs to be considered.

Can unhealthy lifestyle choices cause allergies?
If allergies can be caused by obesity, and obesity is brought about by unhealthy lifestyle choices, then can it be said that these choices are at the root of why a person develops a particular allergy?

Unhealthy lifestyle choices that can cause obesity include low levels of activity and poor diet, with the link between these being well documented. In terms of low levels of physical activity and allergies, there is also evidence to support a link between the two. For example, a global survey, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), revealed that those who watched television for more than two hours a day had higher risks of allergic asthma.3 This finding is supported by further research conducted by Mitchell et al. (2013), which found evidence to link a sedentary lifestyle with an increased risk of asthma and eczema. 4 In relation to poor diet and allergies, studies have shown that a lack of certain healthy dietary components can also have an adverse effect; antioxidants from fruits and vegetables are beneficial for inflammation and obesity, and data from 137 individuals with allergies has shown that a high oxidant diet can significantly reduce allergy symptoms.5

Now to consider what can be done to combat obesity with a view to minimising the risk of developing allergic symptoms. Epidemiological evidence suggests that increased weight gain increases the risk for developing autoimmune and atopic conditions,6 so it could be said that it is preferable for overweight and obese individuals to maintain a lifestyle that can result in them reducing their BMI with a view to minimising that risk. Increasing levels of physical activity and eating a healthy diet are key components to helping obese people lose weight, and including specific foods and supplements within a diet can go even further to help minimise allergic symptoms.

For example, good bacteria such as probiotics can help to keep the gut healthy, and by extension help to keep the body healthy as a whole. Probiotics have been known to treat allergies by boosting both the immune and digestive systems. For instance, a longitudinal study revealed that infants who ingested non-pathogenic E. coli developed fewer allergies when they were tested 10 and 20 years later.7 Furthermore, probiotics are thought to help prevent obesity by moderating appetite and metabolic functions. Probiotics such as fermicutes and bacteriodetes can help to regulate gut bacteria; fermicutes are gut bacteria which cause fermentation of carbohydrates, leading to fat formation, and bacteroidetes produce enzymes that help us get the best nutritive value from the plant cell walls found in fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that heavier people have more firmicutes and fewer bacteroidetes,8 so by regulating these bacteria, probiotics can help to ensure that levels of bacteria that cause fat formation are minimised.

In addition, studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in seafood, can result in favourable effects among asthma sufferers.9 The Mediterranean diet also includes eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are key components of a healthy diet. It is thought that this diet is beneficial in terms of combating conditions such as asthma due to the nutrients within the diet (including essential fatty acids, fibre and antioxidants) that help fight against oxidative stress.

Physiological/medical factors at play
Lifestyle choices are not always the reason behind a condition such as obesity. Sufferers may be predisposed to certain conditions that cause obesity, allergies, or both. For example, in relation to obesity, hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease can contribute to weight gain, as can medications such as corticosteroids and antidepressants.10 Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic condition, can also cause weight gain; one of the key characteristics of this condition is hyperphagia (overeating), which needs to be managed carefully in order to maintain a healthy weight.11 However, when considering the link between allergies and obesity, there are many underlying medical components at play, such as immunological conditions like food allergies and hormonal imbalances.

Hersoug and Linneberg (2007) discuss how atopic diseases, or a hereditary tendency to have an immediate allergic response like allergic rhinitis and atopic eczema, are at least in part caused by a weakened immunological tolerance.6 As white adipose tissue or white fat secretes adipokines, which are circulating hormones that mediate inflammation and insulin resistance, an increase in weight may be connected to more sensitive T-cells or T-lymphocytes. These subtypes of white blood cells are produced by the thymus gland and play an active role in immune responses. Also, Adiponectin, which is a protein involved in regulating fatty acid breakdown and glucose levels, decreases with higher obesity. This suggests that being obese is linked to autoimmune disorders, as there is a connection between decreased tolerance to antigens or foreign substances that may prompt the immune system to produce antibodies.

Intake of foods that cause an immune system response can also contribute to weight gain. When you take in food to which you are allergic, your adrenal glands produce hormones that negatively affect your insulin and blood sugar levels, thereby prompting your body to store more fat instead of using it for energy. Hence, having food allergies may result in weight gain, which in turn increases inflammation and allergy-related problems.12 This vicious cycle clearly links obesity with allergic diseases.

Food allergies can also be responsible for bloating, water retention, and slow metabolism. An imbalanced gut flora is associated with both obesity and allergy13 and consuming food to which you are sensitive causes inflammation that activates the adrenal glands to secrete blood-sugar-destabilising hormones. As a result, the body holds on to fat rather than burning it for energy. In addition to this, reactivity to certain foods or food intolerance can result in fluid retention due to immune system cells attempting to “dilute” the effects of these foods14 , resulting in bloating and puffiness. For some people, eliminating foods with yeast, gluten, and dairy, can facilitate weight loss. This can be a challenge, however, since many people crave what they are allergic to.

Research conducted into levels of certain types of antibodies has also provided insight into the link between appetite and allergies. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) are antibodies that attack allergens, viruses, bacteria, and other antigens. IgE tests have been employed to test allergic reactions to asthma as well as lesser immunity to parasitic infections. One study sought to determine the relationship between IgE levels and obesity through the immunomodulatory effects of Ghrelin and Leptin – the “hunger hormones.”15 Both hormones have been found to occur in higher levels among the obese.16 The data gathered from 98 obese subjects reflected a correlation between weight and pre-allergic symptoms. A strong inverse correlation was also found between Ghrelin and IgE levels, whereby a lower level of Ghrelin was associated with a higher level of IgE and vice versa. This implies that Ghrelin may directly or indirectly constrain the production of IgE, suggesting a link between weight-related and allergy-related hormones.

The health of a mother can also directly influence a child’s immunity levels and disposition to allergic diseases; maternal obesity is one of the main factors that can impact newborns’ immune system development,17 and infants born to obese mothers have been found to have lower immunity levels as evidenced by fewer antibodies. One study, which appeared in the International Journal of Obesity, has corroborated that there is an apparent inter-relationship between asthma and obesity genes18; specifically, pleiotropic genes or genes that have many influences on a certain set of characteristics are highly assumed to be involved in both obesity and allergic diseases. This finding has prompted further research into whether there is a link between the same genes and allergies.

What can be done?
The evidence does suggest a link between allergies and unhealthy weight gain, and the causes can be thought of in terms of those brought about by lifestyle and those that are physiological in nature (i.e. not caused by lifestyle choices, such as autoimmune conditions). Being obese may cause a domino effect of complications such as allergic disorders and vice versa.

Population health can be improved by implementing information programmes that inform the public of the link between these two conditions, encouraging people to speak to their physicians and family doctors if they have any concerns about underlying medical conditions, and promoting healthy lifestyle choices to combat obesity. These programmes, which would promote healthy living regimens and exercise-friendly environments, could help to weaken the link between obesity and allergies in cases where the exacerbation of allergic symptoms is being caused by lifestyle-induced obesity. In cases where the allergy or weight gain is caused by an underlying condition that was previously unknown, sufferers can be encouraged to find out more about the causes and hopefully find effective treatments to disrupt the allergy-obesity cycle. In either scenario, there is the potential of providing relief to the vast numbers of the UK population who suffer from one or both conditions. More importantly, such measures could be an important step towards reducing obesity and allergy incidence and prevalence.

This article first appeared in Allergy Newsletter No. 120. Summer 2017.

No, lactose intolerance cannot cause weight gain. But if you replace dairy products with foods high in carbohydrate, calorie and protein content, you will gain weight.

Lactose Intolerance and Weight Gain

Many people have this notion that lactose intolerance can cause weight gain. They think that if you are lactose intolerant, you may be compelled to increase your food intake to replace the nutrients present in cow’s milk and dairy products, which you can only consume limited amounts of because of your lactose intolerance.

Foods rich in proteins, fats and carbohydrates – the same foods that build muscle mass and make you gain weight – are necessary to sustain your body functions, but they should be consumed in moderation. Otherwise, it will result in an imbalance that can result in your weight gain.

Other Conditions Lead to Weight Gain

If you have been working out but still unable to lose weight, it may be possible that you have other underlying conditions. These conditions include Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), diabetes, hypothyroidism, and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Studies show that lactose intolerance can make IBS and Inflammatory Bowel Disorder (IBD) symptoms worse. This makes it more difficult for your digestive system to break down food for energy, resulting in constipation, bloating, stomach pain, gut inflammation and diarrhoea.

Your gut may also be sensitive to certain foods that can compromise your gut health and thus, promote the growth of harmful bacteria in your colon. When these harmful bacteria produce toxins, they can make your intestinal walls inflamed and your gut bloated, which eventually obstructs your digestion.

If you have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance and want to keep weight gain at bay, you need to know what types of food to eat and avoid, stick to a balanced diet and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle.

To help you minimise your chances of gaining weight, here are some diet and health management tips:

Minimise Your Dairy Consumption

More serious gut health problems like Crohn’s disease have autoimmune characteristics that can deteriorate the digestive tract when it’s infected. Unfortunately, severe damage to the digestive tract may lead to secondary lactose intolerance, as the small intestines lose their ability to produce lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose.

In terms of weight gain, people who have IBD such as Crohn’s disease and sensitivity to dairy may gain extra pounds due to persistent inflammation in their body. Some dairy products contain allergens, gluten, chemicals and hormones that can trigger an auto-immune response. When this happens, your intestines swell, which may disrupt the normal digestive function, resulting in stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, and metabolic issues.

If you are lactose intolerant due to IBD, it is crucial that you avoid or minimise the amount of dairy you consume to reduce inflammation and maintain a normal weight.

Alternatively, if you can tolerate a glass of milk but wonder if it can make you fat, the answer depends on the milk’s contents. A recent study showed that the hormone estrone found in dairy products may increase body weight. Moreover, low-fat milk contains whey protein and estrone that may also promote weight gain.

We advise searching for dairy alternatives that contain a very small amount of lactose, such as aged cheeses, plain yoghurts, vegetables, healthy oils, and lactose-free products. And of course, watch your whey protein intake and read the product labels carefully.

Buy Lactose-Free Milk Alternatives

Milk products derived from soy, almond, coconut, macadamia and cashew are some of the best alternatives to cow’s milk. Besides the fact that they are lactose-free, they also contain fewer calories than regular milk. Consuming these lactose-free milk products won’t compromise your weight even if you consume a glass or two daily. Plus, they’re packed with vitamins and minerals that can contribute to your recommended daily nutrient intake.

These milk alternatives also contain healthy fats that can promote weight loss and reduce blood cholesterol levels. For instance, coconut milk is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which have been found effective in reducing weight and waistline amongst obese individuals. A 2018 study also showed that MCTs can help boost insulin sensitivity, which helps break down sugar and keeps your blood sugar levels low.

We recommend that you only buy alternative milk products that have added lactase in it and with little or no refined sugar to enhance your digestion.

Take a Dairy Allergy Test

Lactose intolerance should not be confused with a milk allergy. Some people mistake their dairy food sensitivities for lactose intolerance because both conditions often cause stomach cramps. But these are two different, unrelated health problems where allergic reactions to milk are characterised by hives, vomiting or anaphylaxis. Whereas, lactose intolerance is an enzyme deficiency that doesn’t trigger the immune system to respond to dairy intolerance, although it does cause discomfort when a person is unable to break down foods that contain lactose.

So, you can be lactose intolerant and not suffer from a milk allergy, or you can have both. If you aren’t sure of what’s causing your stomach discomfort after drinking a cup of milk, it’s best to undergo an allergy test to get a proper diagnosis. If you keep consuming milk products that you are unknowingly allergic to because you mistake it for lactose intolerance, it may lead to chronic inflammation that can make you gain up to 14kgs of body weight per year.

Eat Foods Rich in Prebiotics

When you ingest prebiotic fibres, certain types of gut bacteria break them down to produce short-chain fatty acids. These compounds can make you feel full and help fight infections in your body.

Based on research, eating 16grams of prebiotics per day can boost bacterial fermentation within your gut so you’ll feel full and experience less hunger. Another study also showed that fermented prebiotics in the gut can reduce inflammation. Other health benefits of prebiotic fibres include increased calcium absorption, beneficial metabolites, and gut barrier permeability. They also help fight harmful bacteria and minimise allergy risk.

If you want to get started with your prebiotic-rich diet, excellent sources include chicory root, asparagus, dandelion greens, bananas, raw Jerusalem artichoke, cooked garlic and onions, wheat bran, mushrooms, leeks, barley, apples, and flaxseed. However, consider looking for alternatives to the prebiotic foods that you are not allowed to eat if you have IBS or IBD.

Take Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements

New studies show that lower levels of calcium and Vitamin D may cause weight gain in men and women.

Researchers found out that in women, belly fat was linked to lower levels of Vitamin D. Whereas in men, Vitamin D deficiency was associated with abdominal and liver fat. So if your waistline got larger than before, have your Vitamin D levels checked and increase your Vitamin D intake by taking supplements.

Another deficiency that can lead to weight gain is calcium. Aside from osteoporosis, lower levels of calcium can increase your desire to eat more as your body tries to compensate for the deficiency.

Fortunately, getting additional calcium from supplements can help you lose weight, especially if you’re obese or overweight. According to a new study, obese women with calcium deficiency lost weight by up to 6kgs after taking 1200mgs of calcium and 10mcg of Vitamin D supplements daily for 15 weeks. The researchers concluded that increasing calcium intake can help control appetite in obese women and thus, reduce their calorie intake.

Need Our Help?

Book an appointment with an accredited dietitian or nutritionist by phone on (07) 3071-7405 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday or send us an enquiry. Alternatively, find out how we can help you manage your lactose intolerance better.

Resources

  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and Lactose Intolerance Contribute to Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptomatology in Pakistan – NCBI
  • Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Health: The Potential Beneficial Effects of a Medium Chain Triglyceride Diet in Obese Individuals – NCBI
  • Medium Chain Triglycerides enhances exercise endurance through the increased mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism – NCBI
  • Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Lactose Intolerance – National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
  • The Anti-Allergy Diet – Doctor Oz
  • Short-chain fatty acids, prebiotics, synbiotics, and systemic inflammation: a systematic review and meta-analysis – The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  • The role of short-chain fatty acids in health and disease. – NCBI
  • Health Effects and Sources of Prebiotic Dietary Fiber – NCBI
  • Belly fat linked to vitamin D deficiency – Medical News Today
  • Calcium may boost weight loss, but only if you’re deficient – Nutra Ingredients
  • 10 Diet Tips for Lactose Intolerance – New Life Nutrition

Clients often suspect they are lactose intolerant if they can’t lose those unwanted pounds or if they experience digestive issues like bloating, irregular bowel movements, pain, or discomfort. While lactose is a popular scapegoat and is routinely splashed across social media, it’s rarely the culprit. Lactose intolerance is a real condition and its prevalence is dependent upon your genetics. However, it is important to distinguish between primary lactose intolerance, which is typically inherited, and secondary causes of lactose intolerance. (1) Secondary causes of intolerance, such as celiac disease, infectious enteritis, or Crohn’s disease, can cause lactose to not be digested fully by the body. (2)

If you are lactose intolerant, your intolerance will not prevent you from losing body fat. Weight gain is an energy imbalance issue, meaning that you are consuming more food and fluid than you are using. Even if you switch to a dairy-free diet, you will likely continue to experience the same body-fat issues unless you address the energy imbalance. If you believe you have an intolerance and want to cut dairy for symptomatic relief, there are a few ways of determining if you struggle with lactose.

Record

It is important to set up a way of recording your daily well-being. If you are tech savvy, you can even check out these diary apps. You should consider recording your sleep quality, mood, energy, digestion, and bowel movements. Information in each category should be paired with positive or negative symptoms that you experience.

Reintroduce

If you try a lactose-free diet for 3–4 weeks, reintroduce dairy after week 4 to reassess your signs and symptoms. Add some milk, cheese, and yogurt into your diet at the start of week 5. Try this for 2–3 days and monitor changes. You will quickly be able to identify if an intolerance exists.

Take-Home Message

Lactose intolerance is a real issue for many people and its degree of severity varies case by case. It can adversely affect your gut and produce symptoms of discomfort. It is unlikely to be the cause for weight gain, and resolving an intolerance will not likely help with losing body fat. If you follow the steps above and find that you have an intolerance, stick with a lactose-free diet and enjoy the benefits.

About Ixcela

Ixcela helps individuals measure and improve their internal wellness. Using a simple pinprick blood test, Ixcela measures key metabolites and then makes personalized recommendations to improve gut health through exercise, dietary habits, and supplements.

Is food INTOLERANCE making you fat?

I remember my first patient who, on eliminating their food intolerances, lost 7lbs in two days. Now, I thought, that cannot be fat loss. To lose 2lbs of fat in a week is extremely hard core. You have to be cutting a lot of calories and exercising.

More than two-thirds of your body is water and the body can sometimes retain too much, creating unnecessary weight gain. This can be a consequence of poor kidney function, hormonal imbalances and too much sugar. The body stores excess sugar as glycogen, each unit of which is bound to four units of water. In addition, one very common cause of water-logging is food intolerance.

Are you waterlogged?

  • Does your face look puffy, especially around the eyes?
  • Does your abdomen, on pressing, feel waterlooged and bloated?
  • Do your ankles ever swell up?
  • Do your fingers ever swell up so it’s hard to get your rings off?
  • Do you have dry skin or dandruff?
  • Do you ever experience sudden fluctuations in your weight?
  • Do you suffer from breast tenderness?
  • Are you prone to allergies?

If you answer ‘yes’ to three or more of the questions above, chances are that water retention is partly to blame for your weight problem.

Your body is like a tube. The digestive tract, which has a surface area the size of a small football field, is the gateway between the outside world and your body. It’s guarded ferociously by your immune system. If a substance that isn’t on the guest list, so to speak, tries to gate-crash and get through your digestive tract and into the bloodstream, your immune system goes haywire.

Why does a food intolerance lead to weight gain?

The reason is twofold. First, histamine, the stuff that makes you sneeze if you have hay fever, and other immune factors, make tiny blood vessels called capillaries more ‘leaky’. This allows the immune system’s army of white blood cells to move into the battlefield. At the same time, more fluid passes into your tissues. If this is happening several times a day, you literally become waterlogged.

Immune reactions also mess up the balance of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances made from essential fats, and this too can lead to water retention as well as abdominal bloating.

This is not the only mechanism that may link food intolerance to weight gain. When your immune system is frequently reacting to the foods you eat, you develop a background of chronic inflammation and that, in turn, can impair the brain’s ability to receive leptin’s appetite suppressing messages (called leptin resistance). So you keep eating. Removing foods from the diet that are provoking the inflammation can help undo the damage done, reducing weight and moderating appetite.

That’s the theory, but where’s the proof in action?

YorkTest, Britain’s most advanced and science-led food intolerance laboratory, recently surveyed 38 individuals who had taken a YorkTest food-specific IgG test and who had reported weight loss after making dietary changes according to the test results.

According to Dr Gill Hart, the Scientific Director of YorkTest “Only 13% stated that weight loss was the primary reason for using the programme. Other primary reasons for using the programme included digestive symptoms such as IBS and bloating (47%), skin symptoms such as eczema and rashes (11%), migraines (2.5%), fatigue (2.5%), and other (24%). Half said that they were concerned about their weight before they took the test.

“One in four (26%) noticed a reduction in weight within a week. A further 26% said they lost weight between 1-2 weeks, 31% between 2-4 weeks, and 17% took more than 4 weeks.

The majority (92%) said that the weight loss that they achieved was desirable. 14% lost up to 5lbs, 34% lost between 6-10lbs, 26% lost between 11-15lbs, 17% lost between 16 and 20lbs and 9% lost over 20lbs in weight over a 3 month period by avoiding their intolerant foods identified by YorkTest’s Food&DrinkScan Programme. Not only that, their weight loss was sustained and often manageable for the first time,” Dr Hart told me. The most common kind of immune reaction to foods isn’t food allergy (an IgE mediated immune response), but it is food intolerance which leads to the production of IgG antibodies. These induce an IgG immune reaction when the trigger foods are eaten. The symptoms can often be a delayed reaction, making it difficult to identify the offending foods. They also cause fluid retention. This is what YorkTest’s Food&DrinkScan measures.

The YorkTest findings are consistent with a previously published study by Lewis et al (2012), which reported an average 12lb weight loss after 60 days in a group of 120 people tested for, and avoiding, their IgG positive foods. They also had desirable reductions in waist and hip circumferences, blood pressure and quality of life indicators.

How do you test for a food allergy?

The more foods you eat that provoke an IgG antibody reaction the worse it is for your health and your weight. Your immune system is not designed to produce large amounts of IgG antibodies, if it does, you are likely to suffer from some degree of discomfort and symptoms that just don’t seem to improve, as well as resistant weight loss.

If you suspect that you may have reactions to foods, I recommend you investigate further by having a YorkTest IgG Food Intolerance test, which you can do with a simple home test kit. The results are sent to you, showing you exactly what foods your immune system is reacting against. Their excellent service also includes an optional consultation with a BANT/CNHC registered Nutritional Therapist, guidebook and food diary to help you work out what to avoid and what to eat instead.

Also, unlike the classic IgE mediated food allergy, IgG sensitivities don’t last for life. After a few months off your offending foods, while improving your diet and taking supplements containing digestive enzymes, glutamine and probiotics to keep your gut healthy, these sensitivities often disappear.

How to Reduce Your Sensitivity

When you suffer from an intolerance your system goes into a state of inflammation. In fact, it’s only when you ‘tip’ over a certain level of inflammation that symptoms such as bloating, stuffy nose, headaches, itchy skin, aching joints and so on appear. You can reduce your overall sensitivity with certain anti-inflammatory nutrients. My favourite are vitamin C, MSM (a form of sulphur), quercitin (rich in red onions), bromelain (an enzyme from pineapple) and glutamine, which helps to heal the gut thus protecting allergens from crossing into the blood stream. Omega-3s from oily fish and chia seeds also help. Taking a combination supplement containing all these is a great way to put more money into your health deposit account so you don’t go overdrawn, so to speak, at the slightest exposure to one of your intolerant foods.

Case Study – Alice (33)

For further information on allergy testing go to www.yorktest.com. Their Ideal Weight Programme combines IgG reaction testing to 158 foods and drinks with tailored advice and support and a 12 week low GI plan to get you on the right track to eliminate your problem foods and balance your diet.

Food sensitivities can disrupt the efficiency of your digestive tract making weight loss a never-ending struggle.

In the United States, obesity has become a major health concern. It can be difficult to lose the weight once it becomes a problem. One of the things that many people are looking into is the connection between food sensitivities and excessive weight gain.

The production of Immunoglobulin E, or IgE antibodies during an allergic reaction have been found to cause inflammation. When associated with food sensitivities, this can result in a disruption of the digestive tract. Gas bloating, stomach cramps, and celiac disease are common.

What is Food Sensitivity?

Food sensitivity, or a food allergy, can be caused by eating certain foods or because of changes in the body brought on by medications or illnesses. A food allergy such as lactose intolerance can begin to occur over time or if someone dramatically changes their diet.

Offending foods, also known as trigger foods, can cause inflammation throughout the digestive tract, minimizing its efficiency and making weight loss almost impossible. Food additives that are commonly found in processed foods can lead to brain fog, joint pain, flatulence, bloating, and the inability to fully digest foods and utilize the nutrients.

Symptoms of Food Sensitivities

Food intolerances and sensitivities are commonly diagnosed by the symptoms they produce. A short list of symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Severe abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Hives
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Anaphylaxis (This is a life-threatening allergic reaction in which a person’s airway begins to swell shut.)

Identifying the foods that cause these types of reactions is essential. If a food sensitivity is noticed, it’s important to notify a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

How Food Sensitivities Affect Weight Loss

Food sensitivities cause inflammation throughout the digestive tract. When the digestive tract is disturbed in any way, it becomes less efficient. While the calories are easily absorbed, the nutrients may be lost before they can be utilized. This means an excessive amount of calories are taken, but the body doesn’t get the nutrition it needs to create energy and maintain a balanced metabolism.

People who are trying to lose weight but struggling to lose even a few pounds should talk to their healthcare professional about the possibility of food sensitivities. Many people have them, but their symptoms are so mild, they ignore the possibility. If a food sensitivity is discovered, avoiding those foods will reduce the inflammation and help to get your digestive tract back on the right path. Creating a healthier, personalized diet may be just what they need to begin their weight loss journey.

Get in touch with Backfit Health + Spine, our food sensitivity intolerance testing services can help determine what foods you may be intolerant to and set you on the road to better health in no time.

There’s been plenty of hype about food allergies over the last few years. People are going gluten-free, dairy-free, and looking for other things in their diet that might be hurting their health or even hindering their fitness goals. If you’ve wondered if the foods you eat could be affecting your health and fitness, here is some gathered insight from the medical community.

Food Sensitivities Versus Food Allergies

If someone claims to have a food allergy but can eat food that contains it without an immediate allergic reaction (known as an IgE response), it isn’t technically an allergy. It’s more like a food sensitivity. Food allergies are life-threatening realities for many people and shouldn’t be confused with the mild digestive problems or inflammation that’s more typical of a food sensitivity. In other words, if you have a food allergy, it will be obvious.

Food sensitivities or intolerances, however, cause less immediate reactions in the body that are much less severe and may even be unnoticeable. Common symptoms are digestive problems, bloating, fatigue, brain fog, or headaches. Even though these aren’t as severe as an allergic response, they can still hinder your ability to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.

Can Certain Foods Cause Weight Gain?

Although many natural health doctors and nutritionists believe there’s a link between food sensitivities and weight gain or stubborn weight loss, there aren’t enough scientific studies to support this. Still, it’s a possibility to consider if you’ve been having trouble losing weight despite workouts at the fitness center and making changes to your eating habits.

The idea that food sensitivities could be linked to weight gain is based on the immune system’s effect on other hormones that regulate digestion and body weight. When we’re sensitive to a certain food, our bodies release hormones that spike our insulin level. Insulin, in turn, triggers a few enzymes that tell the body to store fat instead of use it for energy. Finally, a higher percentage of fat in the body triggers inflammation and leads another hormone, known as leptin, to dysfunction. It’s possible that this chain-reaction of hormone responses could be hindering your weight loss efforts.

Which Foods Cause Sensitivities?

The foods at the source of most sensitivities and intolerances are often the same foods that trigger allergies: dairy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, etc. Dairy and wheat gluten are targeted the most out of this list, especially since they’re used in so many processed foods that make up the core of the average American diet.

How to Respond to Potential Food Sensitivities

We can’t blame weight gain or difficulty losing weight on hormones and food sensitivities alone. However, we can look for ways to avoid this potential source of weight gain as we pursue a healthy lifestyle that includes regular fitness center workouts and a healthy diet. Here are a few steps to take if you suspect a food sensitivity is hindering your weight loss.

  1. Cut suspected foods out of your diet for at least 3 weeks straight (look for hidden sources).
  1. Gradually re-introduce these foods into your diet and use a food journal to record your body’s response: not just your weight changes, but how you feel.
  1. Continue your healthy eating habits and workout routine at the fitness center. These are the changes that will truly make a difference in reaching your fitness goals.

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