- Is the food you are eating working for you or against you?
- Have you tried all the diets and exercise but still can’t shift the extra pounds?
- Did you know that your favourite healthy food could be making you fat?
Overcoming food intolerance is one of the keys to weight loss. But how does food intolerance affect your weight? Let’s take a look…
What is food intolerance?
Food intolerance is a succession of physiological responses that your body has to specific types of food. It is your body’s reaction to the foods you eat; your body cannot handle the food. It could be one type of food or a combination of foods. The Allergy UK, a charity set up in 1991 to assist people who suffer from food intolerance, calculates that 45% of the UK population is affected by food intolerance and according to the journal Deutsches Arzteblatt International (2009), more than 20% of the population in industrialised countries suffer from food intolerance.
Food contains information. It is not just about calories. The food you eat conveys several messages to your body including the message to burn fat or store fat. The message your body receives is not just based on what you eat: the amount of food you consume, how often you eat, how quickly you ingest the food, what you drink with your food and your emotions while you eat all send messages to your body. Some common symptoms of food intolerance include bloating, migraine, headaches, joint pain, abdominal pain, weight gain and many more. Food Intolerance should not be confused with food allergy, they are completely different.
Allergy or intolerance?
Food Allergy is an instant reaction to food and it is severe. It appears within minutes or seconds of eating the food. It affects around 2% of the adult population. It is a long term condition; even a small amount of food can provoke an allergic reaction. The antibody involved in an allergic reaction is the IgE antibody. The symptoms can be life threatening. Food allergies are best dealt with by a medical doctor.
On the other hand, food intolerance reactions can take up to 72 hours to manifest. Several food and drink ingredients can be involved. It can be quite difficult to identify which food you are intolerant to because symptoms don’t appear until after some hours or even days. The antibody involved in food intolerance is the IgG antibody. While the symptoms of a food intolerance are not life threatening, they can make you feel extremely unwell.
The connection between food intolerance and weight gain
Eating foods that you are intolerant to sets off an immune reaction and causes inflammation in your digestive tract. Inflammation is designed to heal your system. Inflammation is a good thing as long as it is not prolonged. If you continue to eat the problem foods, your digestive tract remains inflamed and your immune system continues to set off an immune reaction. When your immune system becomes too active, the inflammation becomes prolonged and chronic.
Inflammation has been linked to weight gain. A study published in the journal Obesity (2010) investigated the link between the markers of inflammation with weight gain and weight loss; the study found that high levels of inflammation markers were associated with weight gain. This is because inflammation produces a resistance to leptin, the hormone that controls your feelings of hunger and being full.
When you are leptin resistance, leptin is incapable of entering your cells. This leads to increased hunger, you eat more even past the point where your brain would normally say ‘stop eating’. According to a study published in the journal Nature Clinical Practise: Endocrinology & Metabolism (2006), obesity is a state of leptin resistance whereby your brain no longer has control over the stimulus to stop eating.
How do you find out if you have food intolerance?
Since it is typical to crave the food your body cannot handle, it can be a bot tricky to find out whether you have a food intolerance. There are two things you can do:
1. Elimination Diet : You can eliminate the foods you suspect you may have an intolerance to for three weeks and then reintroduce them one at a time on different days and observe any symptoms. It will help you discover which foods are problematic. It is important for you to keep a food diary with details of the foods you eat and any symptoms.
2. Blood test: There are some laboratories that do a finger prick food intolerance blood test which assess your reaction to various foods. The test will analyse specific IgG antibody reactions two you will be able to discover the foods you are reacting to.
The Bottom Line
Food Intolerance produces inflammation which will make your body resistant to the hormones that can help you burn fat and control your appetite and cravings. You will eat more, crave more and keep gaining weight, so identifying and overcoming food intolerance is a key to weight loss.
Anne Anyia is a UK based BANT and CNHC qualified and registered Nutritional Therapist and Consultant specialising in weight loss, weight management and digestive health. She is passionate about health, well-being and advising people on what and how to eat for optimal health (www.awesconutrition.com).