Food Sensitivity, Chronic Inflammation, and Weight Gain

By Steven V. Joyal, MD

Food Sensitivity, Chronic Inflammation, and Weight GainChronic, low-level inflammation due to food sensitivity is a little-appreciated contributing factor for unwanted weight gain, along with other health conditions like fatigue, fluid retention, headache, and skin conditions.

Before we review how sensitivity to certain foods can make weight loss difficult, we need to understand the difference between food sensitivity and food allergy.

Classic food allergy occurs when certain foods trigger the immune system to release large amounts of the chemical histamine. When large amounts of histamine flood the body, a potentially life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis can occur. This potentially fatal condition causes the throat to swell, potentially cutting off the air supply to the lungs. This type of reaction is called a type I hypersensitivity reaction, mediated by Immunoglobulin E (IgE), a type of antibody.

Sensitivity to certain foods in our diet is different from classic food allergy. As opposed to the immediate surge in histamine release in classic food allergy, sensitivity to certain foods can contribute to a delayed reaction that results in chronic, low-level activation of the immune system. This chronic, low-level immune system activation is mediated through Immunoglobulin G (IgG). Inflammatory substances are produced in response to IgG antibodies at the level of the gut wall. These inflammatory factors generate free radicals that interact at the local level of the gut wall to enhance the ability of molecules in our gut to be absorbed intact through the gut wall and enter the bloodstream. These molecules can then further cause low-level inflammation at the tissue level, with fluid retention a common sign. In fact, fluid retention and the difficulty to lose weight despite dieting are often-overlooked signs of chronic, low-level immune system activation and associated inflammation due to undiagnosed food sensitivity.

Scientific research shows that food sensitivity and associated anti-food IgG antibodies play an underappreciated but important role in weight management. For example, a 2008 human clinical study in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes compared carotid arterial IMT (measurement of arterial thickening consistent with atherosclerosis), anti-food IgG antibodies, and C-reactive protein (CRP), a pro-inflammatory factor known to be an independent risk factor for heart attack risk, in obese and normal weight study subjects.

The results of this study were incredible.

Researchers found that the level of inflammation as measured by CRP in the bodies of the obese study volunteers was 200% higher than the normal weight study volunteers, 3.6 mg/l vs. 1.2 mg/l, respectively. Furthermore, anti-food IgG antibodies were dramatically different between the two groups. The obese group’s mean anti-food IgG levels were 1451 mg/l, and the normal weight (control) group’s anti-food IgG levels were 600 mg/l, a 141% higher level of anti-food IgG antibodies in obese human test volunteers!

Clearly, identifying and avoiding sensitive foods from your diet can play an important role in your weight management plan.


NMD said...

Olive oil or nuts integrated in a Mediterranean diet, lowered CRP and IL-6 levels, and lowered insulin resistance, compared to those following a low-fat diet.


1. Ramon Estruch (2010). Anti-inflammatory effects of the Mediterranean diet: the experience of the PREDIMED study. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 69 , pp 333-340 doi:10.1017/S0029665110001539

J. from Home Remedies said...

I would like to know what procedure to follow in identifying sensitive foods. If we do a food elimination procedure, what do we look for in assessing the results?

Weight Management said...

I believe there are a multitude of factors that cause weight gain. This post has shed light on one that is lesser known, which I think is good in raising awareness of it.

Michael Stephen said...

This is great insight of something I haven't considered. It adds another element and broadened my prospective in healing people who struggle with weight problems. As we collect and apply knowledge, we help each other in our abilities to help others. Food sensitivity is another possible contributing factor in this battle.

Thanks again for your info,

Michael Stephen

WhiteWitch said...

I'm wondering if I am sensitive to bread, gluten or processed grain or something. Whenever I eat this kinds of food I feel bad. I don't get sick, I just feel lethargic and just generally bad.

More than a year ago I stopped eating bread and pasta because I wanted more energy. Without really meaning to I ended up losing weight.

Then I went home for Christmas, and started eating a lot of bread again, and all the other kinds of Christmas foods. Of course I gained all my weight back.

I wonder if I stop eating bread again if I will lose weight. I wonder if I will have more energy.

Anne said...

I would also like to know the process by which one identifies foods they are sensitive too. How exactly does one go about identifying their hidden food sensitivities. Is there a proper way to go about undertaking an elimination diet?

Life Extension said...


Life Extension offers a food sensitivity test. Check it out at the following link:

The elimination diet is easy to do in theory, but it's a bit more difficult in reality. The best advice is to call one of our health advisors at 800-226-2370.

Jacob Teller said...

It is amazing how bloated and generally unwell you can feel after eating a food that you are allergic or sensitive to. Learning what works for your body is a huge part of feeling healthy, so thank you for bringing attention to this matter!



Motivation To Lose Weight

Diet Solution Program said...

The list of sensitive foods are dizzying. No wonder a diet can work well for one guy and will fail terribly for the next.

Anonymous said...

I just had my sensitivity test done "ALCAT TEST", and I have sensitivity to about 50 different foods. I have been battling my weight for 10 years and many of the foods I use to diet are on my sensitivity list. I am going to try to avoid those foods, and exercise regularly. Wish me luck against the battle of the bulge.

Life Extension said...

We wish you the best of luck and weight loss success!

home remedies said...

it's true to gain weight also require lots of efforts for some peoples,liked reading your post thanks for sharing it.

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