As mentioned in the article, “The 16 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight”, food sensitivities may play a role in weight retention. You won’t find many studies to prove this point but I’ve seen it in clinical practice and if you look up the search terms “gut immunology,” and “gut permeability” you will find associations between the foods you eat and immune activation directed at them. The terms “food sensitivities” and “food allergies” are often used interchangeably but this is a mistake. I will explain why.

The body generates 5 classes of antibodies; IgM, IgD, IgG, IgE and IgA. IgE antibodies are generated when we develop a long-term (usually life-long) reaction to foods we eat. These reactions are not very common, although they do exist. IgG antibodies are usually reserved for fighting pathogens like bacteria and viruses. But, there are times when IgG (and IgA) antibodies are manufactured in the body against foods (particularly proteins) we ingest. Exactly how this happens is still up for debate but mounting evidence suggests that gut permeability plays the major role.

Gut permeability occurs in the presence of chronic inflammation in the small intestine. The idea is that the inflammation causes the gaps between cells to enlarge and these “gaps” allow small proteins to migrate into the tissues where they are recognized as foreign invaders. Once a food is recognized as an invader, the immune system creates more antibodies and mounts a response to the invader. This type of immune activation creates more inflammation. When this process is repeated over and over again, we have the potential to develop systemic reactions and associated symptoms. Interestingly enough, food sensitivities are not necessarily long-term reactions if the foods are removed from the diet for a period of at least 21 days.

So how do we identify food sensitivities? In the past I used food sensitivity tests to identify foods that were a potential problem for a particular patient. I have since come to the conclusion that these tests are usually not necessary. I find, that putting people on an anti-inflammatory diet for 6 weeks will expose some of the major temporary, and permanent sensitivities very nicely. The bottom line with food sensitivities is that they create inflammation and chronic inflammation makes it very difficult to lose weight.

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