Why resistant weight loss may be due to hidden allergies

  • 5 Mar 2009
  • Reading time 3 mins
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Time and time again I meet people who tell me that their excess weight vanished after discovering, and eliminating, their food intolerances. Mary is a case in point. She was intolerant to gluten grains, especially wheat, and also extremely sensitive to sugar. By eliminating these foods she lost 7 stone in weight, she claims!

Most people don’t know this and suffer in silence. An estimated 12 million people are living with food intolerance and spending, on average, £350 on wasted remedies and pills trying to relieve the symptoms before they discover the cause. If allergy is an underlying cause for you no diet is going to work – even mine! One lady failed to lose weight on my diet, then had herself allergy tested and once she stopped eating the offending foods, her excess weight fell away. The reason why food intolerance can lead to weight gain, and difficulty losing it despite going on reduced calorie diets, is complex but is starting to be unravelled.

The most common kind of food intolerance leads to the production of IgG antibodies, which activate an immune reaction when you eat an offending food. This, in turn, increases inflammation in the body, raising certain known markers for inflammation such as TNF-a and C-reactive protein (CRP). Increased inflammation also increases water retention and bloating, as well other classic signs of food intolerance, including aching joints, headaches, blocked nose, IBS and skin problems. However, these symptoms are often delayed by 24 to 48 hours so it isn’t easy to know what you react to just by observing how you feel after eating a particular food. Nor is it easy to work out what you’re intolerant to just by observing how you feel by short-term elimination of the food because some people get withdrawal symptoms when they elminate certain intolerant foods.

To make matters worse some potential offending foods, especially wheat and milk, have an immediate pay-off by producing opiod-like chemicals called gluteomorphins and caseomorphines that make you feel good so, if anything, you are naturally drawn to these foods. The same is true with sugar which, in the short-term, promotes energy, but actually encourages inflammation and weight gain in the long-term. The more foods you eat that provoke an IgG antibody reaction (tested in a simple allergy test) the worse it is for your health and your weight. Your immune system should not produce large amounts of IgG antibodies and, if it does, you are likely to suffer from some degree of general malaise and symptoms that just don’t seem to shift, as well as resistant weight loss.

For example, a recent study found that obese children had much higher IgG antibody levels than normal weight children. ‘Anti-food IgG antibodies are tightly associated with low grade systemic inflammation and with the thickness of carotid arteries’ the study authors report. The researchers conclude that having IgG antibody reactions may be involved in the development of both obesity and atherosclerosis, and that a diet based on eliminating IgG positive foods may be the way forward. Inflammation also affects the gut, potentially making the gut wall more leaky or permeable, which, in turn, may increase food intolerances. Yorktest laboratories, leaders in the field of food intolerance testing, have recently launched a home-test called BodyID Plan specifically designed to help you find out if specific food intolerances might be stopping you losing weight. That’s step one. Once you’ve identified what you are allergic to, and eliminated it, the next step is to improve your gut health.

I recommend having a heaped teaspoon of glutamine powder in water last thing at night to help heal the gut, plus a probiotic supplement containing dairy and sugar-free acidophilus and bifido bacteria such as Biocare’s Bioacidophilus, to help maintain gut health. These are only necessary for a couple of weeks after eliminating your offending foods.