Are Food Sensitivities Making You Fat?

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food sensitivities

Do you ever feel like you’re ALWAYS on a diet? Always counting calories, considering portion sizes and keeping active?

If you eat well and exercise regularly but still have a hard time losing weight, you may want to rethink what you’re eating. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of buzz around food sensitivities. Food sensitivities can not only lead to digestive symptoms such as bloating, heartburn, diarrhea and constipation; they can result in other symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, eczema and you guessed it, weight gain or difficulty losing weight. 

Let me break it down: the digestive system is filled with thousands of bacteria that live symbiotically and keep us healthy and happy. Lining the digestive system is approximately 90% of the immune system, separated by a wall of mucosa. When we eat a standard North American diet (SAD diet) filled with pizza, pasta, burgers, chicken fingers and fries, we foster the growth of bad bacteria that damage our digestive lining and produce toxins. As a result of the damage, food particles leak into the blood stream causing the immune system to react, creating substantial inflammation. As the cascade of reactions continues, the inflammation leads to a toxic fatty liver and insulin resistance thus leading to more insulin being produced. Increased insulin promotes fat storage. In short, it stimulates the growth of pre-fat cells into fat cells. It makes it nearly impossible to lose fat if insulin is constantly being produced. 

How do I know if I have food sensitivities?

There are two ways to find out if you have food sensitivities and both have their pros and cons. 

The first way is to take a food sensitivity test. This is a simple blood test done with a naturopathic doctor, in their office. A few drops of blood are taken from the finger and sent out to a lab. The lab uses a method called ELISA testing to determine whether any food sensitivities exist and provides a full report. This method of testing food sensitivities is both accurate and reliable but can be expensive, ranging between $200-$500. My clinic charges $300. 

The second option is to do an elimination diet. Remove commonly reactive foods for 2-4 weeks and slowly reintroduce those foods, observing for any physical or psychological symptoms. This process takes more time and great commitment and is best done under the supervision of a naturopathic doctor or holistic nutritionist.  Some common reactive foods include: gluten/wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, corn and sugar. 

What is the difference between a food sensitivity and an allergy?

Food sensitivities and food allergies both elicit an immune response but the difference lies in the type of response produced. A food sensitivity is a delayed immune response, sometimes taking up to 72 hours to occur, whereas an allergy is immediate and typically results in diarrhea, hives or an anaphylactic reaction (throat closing, difficulty breathing). The immune system produces the antibody IgG in response to a food sensitivity whereas in a food allergy, it produces IgE.  These small differences in the immune response lead to major differences in when, what and how your body may be manifesting specific symptoms. Just because you may not experience a symptom immediately after eating something, doesn’t mean you won’t.

The bottom line:

If you eat well but can’t seem to lose weight, food sensitivities and chronic inflammation may be the problem. If you consider yourself a “yo-yo” dieter you should truly consider having a food sensitivity test done or speak to a health care professional to properly guide you through an elimination diet. If food sensitivities are indeed the cause of your difficulties, you will want to take specific supplements to bring balance to those thousands of bacteria and heal the damage caused to the gut lining. When you finally address the health of your digestive system, you will notice how easy it is for your body to start shedding unwanted weight! 

Have more questions about food sensitivities? Lets talk! I’m happy to help!

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About Author

Dr. Shelly Reitkop, N.D. works to inspire health by educating, motivating and empowering people to take an active role in their health care journey. She has a specialized clinical focus in digestive and hormone health, as well as pediatric health and women’s health including weight loss and cellulite reduction. Shelly uses a number of therapeutic modalities including nutrition and nutritional supplementation, botanical medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, homeopathy and lifestyle counseling. Learn more about Dr. Shelly at www.torontoweightlossclinic.ca.

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