Food Sensitivities and Your Weight

November 15, 2010

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Foos sensitivitiesCould you be sensitive to a food you eat on a regular basis, and not even know it? Could that sensitivity be playing a role in your weight problems?

The answer to both is, “Yes.”

Unlike food allergies (like the well-known peanut allergy) that can lead to acute reactions like difficulty breathing, food sensitivities are much more subtle and are related to a part of the immune system we don’t fully understand.

With a food sensitivity, the body reacts to certain foods with inflammation when the food enters the digestive system. Symptoms can vary but can include digestive distress, headaches, and fatigue. But because we eat some 20 plus foods each and every day, figuring out exactly which one may be causing the problem can be difficult or impossible on one’s own.

That’s why patients at The Center for Medical Weight Loss who complain of symptoms that may indicate food sensitivity are given a simple blood test that looks for an inflammatory response between dozens of common foods.

Often, we’ll discover these patients indeed have a reaction to a food or foods they’re eating on a regular basis, many times even a “healthy” food. The test also reveals an extensive list of “safe” foods that don’t cause a reaction. From there, we can tailor the patient’s diet plan accordingly.

Now it’s important to note that we don’t believe that eliminating foods one is sensitive to will on its own lead to weight loss. But knowing which foods one is sensitive to can help.

In fact, I myself am a case in point. For years I was unable to get my body fat percentage under 20 percent, even with careful attention to diet and exercise. In addition, I struggled with abdominal pain that had been diagnosed as Crohn’s disease and had been taking powerful medications for more than nine years.

Then, a food sensitivity test revealed I was highly sensitive to tomatoes and grapes of all things! Lo and behold, I often ate tomato-based sauces and fresh tomatoes as well as enjoyed the occasional glass of wine.

After I eliminated these foods from my diet, I was able to reduce my body fat percentage to 15 percent and my abdominal distress was also eliminated to the point that my doctor said I could stop taking the medication within a matter of months. That was over a year and a half ago now, and I am happy to report that the stomach problems that plagued me for years have not returned!

Interestingly we’ve found that when we eliminate foods a person is sensitive to from their diet for several months, they often “lose” the sensitivity and can then resume eating the foods that formerly caused them problems. Likewise, new sensitivities can develop, which are identified with new testing every so often.

In addition to improving one’s overall health, I also believe that knowing what foods one is sensitive to helps in weight loss and control simply by increasing awareness of what one is eating, and forces a person to examine ingredient lists much more closely.

So if you have been struggling with abdominal pain, fatigue, migraines, or other symptoms, a simple food sensitivity test may be just the ticket to feeling much better and getting your diet on the right track.

Dr. Michael Kaplan

Founder and Chief Medical Officer

The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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