Thursday, June 14, 2012

Food Intolerance and Obesity

The Empty Plate by Irving Penn, 1947
The Empty Plate by Irving Penn, 1947

How hidden food allergies affect your weight

There are so many people out there struggling unsuccessfully with their weight. They try to exercise, try to eat healthy meals, go on diet and seem to be gaining weight in spite of their efforts. Something paradoxical is happening in their bodies and no one seems to understand where their problems stem from. They are unaware of the fact that intolerance to some foods they are consuming on a daily basis could actually be the cause of all the discomfort and obesity they are experiencing. A series of elaborate blood tests identifies the foods that should be avoided. 

There are two main types of food allergy:
  • immediate-onset or Type 1 food allergy (IgE)
  • delayed-onset or Type 3 food allergy (IgG)
Type 1 food allergy occurs when the body shows an adverse, immediate, often severe reaction to a food that was ingested. The response to allergens is auto-immune and can even be life-threatening. The body produces a specific type IgE antibodies to certain foods that it cannot tolerate. These antibodies attach themselves to the so called mast cells of the immune system. They are designed to recognize an allergen and to bind to it as soon as it enters the system. When allergenic food is consumed, antibodies that are on the surface of the mast cells recognize it and bind themselves immediately to it causing the release of histamine and other allergy-related body chemicals. It may take up to two hours for the body to react.

Type 3 food allergy, on the other hand, occurs when the body produces IgG antibodies in reaction to an allergenic food. The IgG antibodies attach themselves directly to the undigested food particles as they are entering the blood stream. Together with the allergen they form allergen-antibody immune complexes and circulate throughout the body. The immune reaction depends on the amount of produced IgGs. Immune system mobilizes phagocytes to ward off the reaction, but this process takes time and the symptoms may only appear a few days later. It is difficult to determine which foods are causing discomfort because the reaction is neither severe nor immediate. The reaction to food may take up to four days for symptoms to manifest. They can be vague and do not present an immediate threat to life. They can, however, cause a great discomfort and many unpleasant conditions, including systemic inflammation and obesity, and are often misdiagnosed or even dismissed by the medical professionals. 

Some medical studies have shown that there is a connection between inflammation caused by food intolerance and obesity. We may become inflamed and gain weight. An unhealthy, monotonous diet consisting of processed foods, too much sugar and fat and not enough fiber, as well as the use or abuse of alcohol, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, acid-blockers and other medication, may deplete or destroy the intestinal flora and cause inflammation. The lining of the digestive tract becomes abnormally permeable or leaky. Undigested food particles enter the blood stream. This causes overall immune reaction leading to systemic inflammation in the body and gradually, to obesity, by increasing the insulin resistance. With time a person may be reacting to as many as twenty to thirty different foods without knowing it. The symptoms may vary, but most common are the constant bloating, digestive disorders, water retention, weight gain, migraines, skin rushes, and congested nasal passages. And while the immediate allergy involves mostly foods that are rarely eaten, the delayed-onset allergy is reaction to foods we consume daily, even if they are considered healthy. Food craving may be a sign of a hidden allergy. The IgG allergy cannot be self-diagnosed. The allergens can only be determined by a blood test. 

If you are overweight or chronically ill, but your doctor was unable to determine the cause, the chance is that you may have the delayed-onset allergies to some foods you are consuming on daily basis. The simple advice to exercise and eat more fruit and vegetable may not be enough for you to lose the excess weight, as it is possible that you may be allergic to such innocuous foods as lettuce or cucumbers and will be gaining even more weight while consuming the otherwise healthy salad. 

IgG ELISA is one of the most popular and reliable blood tests to determine the Type 3 allergies. Depending on the lab, the blood sample of a patient may be tested simultaneously against 100 or more different foods. If the blood sample contains a particularly high number of IgG antibodies against a particular food protein, a person is allergic to this food and should avoid it until the body has healed itself and the immune system has been restored. 

After the testing and diagnosis, nutritional rotation plan will be devised and suggested to the patient. Foods to which a person shows the strongest allergic reaction will be eliminated from the patient's diet. All other foods will be consumed with a changing or rotating "schedule" so that one particular food in not consumed for at least four consecutive days. This seem to be complicated at first, but it becomes a routine after only a week. It allows a person to consciously create his or her own menu and to observe the changes in the body. It may also be necessary to restore the intestinal flora and and heal the leaky gut. The allergen-antibody immune complexes may disappear after a relatively short time when the rotation plan is followed rigorously and without exception. As the immune system calms down and the inflammatory processes in the body subside, a person may notice dramatic changes in body weight and improvement of the overall health and well being. The foods to which one was allergic once, may be reintroduced carefully and gradually to the diet plan. It is important to remember, however, that our menus should be as variegated as possible. There is no limit to your creativity and imagination.

By Dominique Allmon


*This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

Creative Commons License
Food Intolerance and Obesity by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.