Is Food Intolerance Making You Fat?

  • 18 May 2017
  • Reading time 6 mins
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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.


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