Have you been frustrated with losing weight? You may have done everything you’ve been told to do. You’ve changed your diet to include more whole foods, eating out less, and working out regularly, yet the pounds are coming off slowly or not at all.
If that sounds like you, you’re not alone.
You might be eating the right foods, but your body might just be rejecting certain ones and that may be what’s getting in the way of dropping those extra pounds.
Food sensitivities are, in fact, very common. We are learning more about how our bodies react to food. The more we learn, the more we understand the impact food intolerances have on the digestion process, including the metabolism of nutrients, carbohydrates, and proteins.
The troubling part is that you may have a food intolerance and don’t know it. Food intolerances are hard to diagnose because there’s a wide range of symptoms and doctors often overlook them as signs of a food intolerance.
Before we begin, let me tell you about the difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy.
Food Intolerance vs. Food Allergy
You may have or know someone that has a food allergy to certain foods like peanuts, strawberries, or shellfish. Food allergies affect 4% to 6% of the population and can be life threatening.
Food intolerance is more common and affects 30 to 40% of the population and is less serious. Yet, the effects of eating a food you have an intolerance to can be uncomfortable and cause awful digestive issues.
So what’s the difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy? Basically, it’s how your body responds.
When you have a food allergy, your immune system causes the reaction. Your immune system views a protein in a food you eat as an invader and begins to attack it. In some cases, even touching a food you are allergic to can cause a reaction.
Symptoms of a food allergy include skin reactions such as hives, swelling, and itching; difficulty breathing, wheezing, dizziness, and digestive symptoms.
Food intolerances happen when your body can’t properly break down food, causing digestive problems. This happens for various reasons including:
- Not having the correct digestive enzymes to break down a certain food, such as the lactase enzyme to break down lactose, a sugar found in cow’s dairy
- Reactions fo additives and preservatives such as artificial colors, sugar alcohols, or MSG
- Sensitivity to caffeine and other chemicals
Symptoms of a food intolerance are broad, but all of them are digestive related including, gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramps, and nausea. You can have an intolerance to a food and not have an allergy.
Common Food Intolerances
If you don’t know what foods you have an intolerance to, you can do an elimination diet or get a food sensitivity test.
If you choose the elimination diet approach, you will remove the foods that commonly cause sensitivities or intolerances and reintroduce them one at a time and record your symptoms. During our initial consultation we will go over food sensitivities, and if they are unknown I will suggest doing an elimination diet before we begin.
Here’s the common foods that can cause sensitivities in some people:
- Beef, pork, and lamb
- FODMAPs – a type of carbohydrate that is fermentable such as grapes and cherries
A note about gluten and dairy
Gluten and dairy are the most common food intolerances in the United States. Gluten is a protein that is found in barley, wheat, and rye. If you have celiac disease, you have to avoid gluten. However, a gluten intolerance is far more common than celiac disease. It is estimated that 18 million Americans have a gluten intolerance, which is 6 times more than the number of people that have celiac disease.
About 30 million people have a lactose intolerance or develop one by the age of 20. You could have eaten dairy all your life and not had a problem, but develop an intolerance as you get older. It happened to me.
Dairy products also contain the proteins whey and casein. Casein is hard to digest for some people and can cause inflammation in your gut. It also has the same molecular structure as gluten. If you have an intolerance to gluten, you likely also have an intolerance to dairy as well.
Signs of a Food Intolerance
Symptoms of a food intolerance include:
- Abdominal pain
- Gas and bloating
- Headaches or migraines
- Upset stomach
How Food Intolerances Affect Nutrition
Your body is a machine that has many different processes. Most of those processes begin when you eat food. Without obstruction, your body operates like a well oiled machine and properly breaks down your food (metabolism) and delivers nutrients throughout your body for various processes such as cell rebuilding, turning carbohydrates into glucose for energy, and removing toxins.
Food intolerances can hinder the digestive process and make it less efficient. Food intolerances cause inflammation in your gut. That inflammation can cause you to lose nutrients before your body can use them. This will obstruct your overall health and any progress you are making.
The one thing food intolerances do not stop is calories from being absorbed and stored for energy. When you eat more calories than you need, your body turns the excess calories into fat to use for energy later. If you eat a lot of calories and your body doesn’t have the nutrients it needs, it could be what’s obstructing your nutrition.
If you want to talk more about food intolerances, you can purchase my eBook. I discuss the difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy and how food intolerances hinder the digestive process and keep you from getting the nutrients from your food. We can also set up a time to chat.
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