There’s been plenty of hype about food allergies over the last few years. People are going gluten-free, dairy-free, and looking for other things in their diet that might be hurting their health or even hindering their fitness goals. If you’ve wondered if the foods you eat could be affecting your health and fitness, here is some gathered insight from the medical community.
Food Sensitivities Versus Food Allergies
If someone claims to have a food allergy but can eat food that contains it without an immediate allergic reaction (known as an IgE response), it isn’t technically an allergy. It’s more like a food sensitivity. Food allergies are life-threatening realities for many people and shouldn’t be confused with the mild digestive problems or inflammation that’s more typical of a food sensitivity. In other words, if you have a food allergy, it will be obvious.
Food sensitivities or intolerances, however, cause less immediate reactions in the body that are much less severe and may even be unnoticeable. Common symptoms are digestive problems, bloating, fatigue, brain fog, or headaches. Even though these aren’t as severe as an allergic response, they can still hinder your ability to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.
Can Certain Foods Cause Weight Gain?
Although many natural health doctors and nutritionists believe there’s a link between food sensitivities and weight gain or stubborn weight loss, there aren’t enough scientific studies to support this. Still, it’s a possibility to consider if you’ve been having trouble losing weight despite workouts at the fitness center and making changes to your eating habits.
The idea that food sensitivities could be linked to weight gain is based on the immune system’s effect on other hormones that regulate digestion and body weight. When we’re sensitive to a certain food, our bodies release hormones that spike our insulin level. Insulin, in turn, triggers a few enzymes that tell the body to store fat instead of use it for energy. Finally, a higher percentage of fat in the body triggers inflammation and leads another hormone, known as leptin, to dysfunction. It’s possible that this chain-reaction of hormone responses could be hindering your weight loss efforts.
Which Foods Cause Sensitivities?
The foods at the source of most sensitivities and intolerances are often the same foods that trigger allergies: dairy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, etc. Dairy and wheat gluten are targeted the most out of this list, especially since they’re used in so many processed foods that make up the core of the average American diet.
How to Respond to Potential Food Sensitivities
We can’t blame weight gain or difficulty losing weight on hormones and food sensitivities alone. However, we can look for ways to avoid this potential source of weight gain as we pursue a healthy lifestyle that includes regular fitness center workouts and a healthy diet. Here are a few steps to take if you suspect a food sensitivity is hindering your weight loss.
- Cut suspected foods out of your diet for at least 3 weeks straight (look for hidden sources).
- Gradually re-introduce these foods into your diet and use a food journal to record your body’s response: not just your weight changes, but how you feel.
- Continue your healthy eating habits and workout routine at the fitness center. These are the changes that will truly make a difference in reaching your fitness goals.