The terms “food sensitivity” and “food allergy” are often used interchangeably. However, there are some important distinctions between the two. A food sensitivity occurs when your body is unable to digest certain compounds, such as the proteins found milk, eggs, wheat or soy. After you consume a food that contains these compounds, you may later experience uncomfortable symptoms, such as bloating and lethargy.
On the other hand, a food allergy occurs when your body’s immune system incorrectly perceives a certain food as harmful. After you consume this food, your immune system attempts to protect your body by releasing natural biochemicals to fight off the allergen. These unneeded antibodies can cause an immediate allergic reaction, which can range in severity from a mild skin rash or hives to life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
What About Weight Gain?
Food sensitivities and food allergies do not directly cause your body to pack on extra pounds. However, the symptoms can sometimes have a ripple effect that indirectly leads to weight gain. For example, if a food sensitivity makes you feel lethargic, you may be inclined to skip your workout or otherwise reduce your activity level.
Additionally, chronic inflammation – a common allergic reaction – may be to blame for weight gain. To control inflammation, your body naturally produces cortisol, an anti-inflammatory hormone. In addition to reducing inflammation, however, cortisol increases your blood sugar levels. As your body produces more insulin to control your blood sugar, you may eventually become insulin-resistant. Insulin resistance can interfere with your body’s ability to metabolize the foods you eat, which can ultimately lead to weight gain.
Managing Food Sensitivities and Food Allergies
If you suspect that you have a food sensitivity or food allergy, it is important to consult with a physician who can perform appropriate testing to identify the source of your symptoms and, if necessary, recommend a treatment plan to help you manage them.
If you’re a member of Optimum Direct Care, a direct primary care practice in Orlando, FL, food sensitivity testing is included in your monthly membership fee. Contact us to learn more.