food sensitivity and weight gain

Food allergies and sensitivities are becoming more prevalent each year. Are we more in-tune with our bodies, has something changed in us or is there something different about our food?

In today’s episode we discuss how food sensitivities can prevent weight loss and cause major frustration.

First it is important to note the difference between allergy and sensitivity. Food allergies are severe instant reactions to foods that cause severe (sometimes life threatening) symptoms. If you have experienced one of these reactions (say to peanuts for example) you know who you are.

Food sensitivities are delayed immune flare ups with complicated biochemical pathways that we are just beginning to understand. We know that when our immune system reacts to foods random, bothersome symptoms can occur that can prevent weight loss and halt all efforts.

The most common non-immediate immune reactions to foods we see in clinical practice are:

  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Water retention
  • Agitation, irritability and stress
  • Acne

If you have experienced significant fatigue after consuming wheat, gas following eggs or stomach pain and bloating after dairy you know exactly what I am referring to. These symptoms often contribute to poor lifestyle decision making – have you ever ate ice cream while experiencing the flu? Have you ever had a nap after a large pasta meal? Do you experience self-doubt, worry or frustration with others after consuming a high sugar treat?

Whether these decisions stop us from exercise, increase our stress hormone release or result in poor follow up food choices weight loss efforts can suffer. That is why it is really important in holistic weight loss to understand how our immune systems react to certain foods.

How to heal from a history of food sensitivity

Food sensitivity does not always need to be forever. In fact, simply alternating food choices will reduce symptoms. The small intestine is resilient, our digestive tracts want to release adequate enzymes and our microbiome has a “set-point” it will try to revert back to if disturbed.

The first step in healing involves exploring what our potential food sensitivities may be. This can be accomplished using testing or trial and error. In our clinic we use advanced immune testing to determine the extent of immune reaction to 120 foods. The test is easy and efficient. In some cases we choose to restrict dairy, eggs, wheat, GMO foods and additives and track symptoms. This can also be efficient.

The way our food has evolved here in North America to include meat that has been treated with hormones and antibiotics, fruits and veggies that are often GMO and sprayed and boxed foods with additives that our immune systems aren’t used to it is difficult to determine how our bodies will react. This is why it is important to accomplish to following when considering food sensitivities:

  1. Revert to nature for fuel – try to consume the most natural foods possible
  2. To avoid additives – be passionate about avoiding chemicals
  3. Stay away from GMO – if you experience the above symptoms and aren’t sure why this is one place to look
  4. Maintain an adequate microbiome (consider probiotic support) – if you have been on antibiotics and not replenished with probiotics or were born via c-section.

Treating food sensitivity is a topic for another day and is specific to the symptoms experienced during a flare. This can include vitamin and mineral therapy, amino acid therapy such as glutamine and probiotic therapy with different amounts selected for different symptomology and history.

When dealing with the complex immune reactions involved in food sensitivity it is important to practice avoidance of the foods involved, regulation of the immune response (beneficial bacteria and omega 3s have been shown effective for this) and proper lifestyle actions conducive to healing and a consistent weight loss program (for example – stress reduction is important to proper digestion).

Listen to today’s show to hear some of the specifics behind certain preservative avoidance, how beneficial bacteria play a role in local digestive immune response and our experience with food avoidance and “gut” healing.

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Dr. David Duizer is a co-founder of and a Naturopathic Physician practicing in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is a passionate, driven, motivated leader in integrative medicine focused on optimal wellbeing, holistic healing and natural health.

To learn more about Dr. David Duizer Click Here. Connect with David on Twitter @davidduizer, Facebook, and Google+.