Often patients suffer from a slightly less serious allergy (not life-threatening), known as celiac disease, in which the immune system turns on itself, attacking the healthy lining of the digestive tract. The major trigger in celiac disease is gluten, a protein found in many grains. Ongoing consumption of gluten by celiac patients keeps the gut in a constant state of inflammation, a breeding ground for chronic illness.
Much more common scenarios are food sensitivities to gluten, dairy, soy, etc. Often, people do not realize that these food sensitivities are the cause of their vague symptoms of bloating, constipation, and weight gain. The key difference between celiac and food sensitivities is that in people with celiac disease, the body attacks the small intestine, while in people with non-celiac gluten intolerance, the immune system attacks the gluten. This process leads to inflammation in the lining of the gut, which makes the body even more prone to food reactions, thus a vicious cycle gets established. Unfortunately, over time, the hidden food sensitivity takes a toll on the immune system leading to weight gain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), arthritis, increased risk of diabetes, asthma, fatigue, etc. In spite of a growing body of medical literature revealing the intimate relationship between the gut, food, and illness, most physicians, especially allergists, don't see the value in uncovering hidden food allergies.
Normally, the cells of the gut lining are tightly set against each other constituting a physical barrier between the outside world (food, bacteria, fungi and parasites) and ourselves (intestinal wall and the rest of the body). Chronic inflammation causes small fissures between the tightly-woven cells, leading to increased intestinal permeability (“leaky gut syndrome”). Bacteria and partially-digested food molecules can slip into the bloodstream through these openings in the intestinal lining. These foreign invaders trigger the activation of our immune system. White blood cells surround the intruding particle and systemic inflammation ensues. This becomes a hidden, smoldering fire created by the immune system as it tries to defend us from a daily assault of food allergies.
Unfortunately, most people eat foods they are allergic to several times a day. Consequently, every time that allergenic food enters our body, our immune system increases the inflammatory response inducing delayed symptoms that occur 2 up to 72 hours after eating. Therefore, it is hard to identify this low-grade food allergy, and the damage is repeated over and over, meal after meal. Once this local inflammation leaks throughout the body, it establishes an environment suitable for weight gain and chronic disease.
Therefore, my weight loss program includes identifying and treating food allergies and sensitivities, detoxification, resolving inflammation, and repairing intestinal lining. Following this protocol, patients lose weight and inches, have substantially less or no pain, asthma improves, energy increases, sleep becomes restorative, mood and behavior improve, etc. Here is what I recommend if food allergies seem to undermine your health:
- Test your blood to identify your hidden food allergies and/or sensitivities (IgG). These tests need to be interpreted in the context of the rest of your health.
- A short personalized elimination/rotation diet for patients who have trouble loosing weight. Both dairy (milk, cheese, butter and yogurt) and gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, triticale and kamut) are linked to insulin resistance and, therefore, weight gain. Eliminating them from your diet temporarily, allows the inflamed gut to heal. Having done a food sensitivity (IgG) blood test, helps us customize your elimination diet to speed up and improve outcome.
- Specific nutritional and botanical treatments that heal the inflammatory response in the gut.
- Detoxification is a necessary step to ensure proper biotransformation and elimination of toxicants (heavy metals, pesticides, etc.), which are being released from their fat storage into the blood stream during the weight loss process. A proper detoxification will prevent these toxicants from redopositing in other parts of your body, such as brain or internal organs.
- Acupuncture treatments to improve your digestion, absorption, and transit.
- A step by step reintroduction of all offending foods after healing the gut. This may occur 2-3 months later.
If you are overweight or suffer from inflammatory diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, the potential health benefits of discovering and uprooting hidden food allergies cannot be overstated. Food can be your greatest ally in helping to prevent and treat illness or your greatest enemy.