The Anti-Allergy Diet
Are hidden food allergies making you gain weight?
Mark Hyman, MD, has a 3-week anti-allergy diet to help get your system back on track so you can start shedding pounds.
Are you doing all the right things yet you are still unable to lose weight?
A hidden food allergy could be the culprit.
Sudden-onset vs. Slow-onset Food allergies
Most people think food-related allergic reactions are sudden and fast acting
– such as peanut or shellfish allergies which can cause immediate inflammation
(an IgE immune response), resulting in swelling or difficulty breathing and can
be life-threatening. On the other hand, dairy, which can be hidden in many
everyday foods causes a far less acute allergic reaction, creating inflammation
hours or even days later (an IgG immune response). Up to 60% of the population
could be affected by hidden sensitivities to foods such as dairy.
Dairy Allergy and Weight Gain
Foods with dairy can cause unhealthy bacteria to overgrow and produce toxins
that cause systemic inflammation that swells the intestines and prevents normal
digestion, causing weight gain, among other conditions such as irritable bowel.
In fact, you can gain up to 30 pounds a year due to a dairy allergy.
Lastly, a dairy allergy is tied to inflammation in the gut, as opposed to
lactose intolerance, which is an inability to digest the milk sugar called
The first step to finding out if a dairy allergy is making you gain weight
is to identify both the main and hidden sources of dairy in your diet.
Main Dairy Sources: Milk, butter, yogurt and cheese.
Hidden Dairy Sources: Desserts: Cakes, muffins, cookies and chocolate may contain
basic dairy ingredients along with “hidden” dairy derivatives such as casein or
whey, both milk proteins. Be sure to look for these ingredients on labels and
Deli Meats and Fish: Processed meats often contain dairy
products such as lactose, casein and caseinates that act as emulsifiers or
flavor enhancers. Meats labeled “kosher” will be dairy-free. Be aware that some
brands of canned tuna contain casein.
Bread: Both white and wheat bread often contain casein,
whey or milk powder. Freshly baked yeast breads are sometimes prepared in
buttered pans or brushed with butter as they bake. Ask your baker if this is
Energy Bars: Countless brands of protein and energy bars
consist primarily of whey protein. As with all of the above, remember to read
these food labels very carefully as well.
The 3-Week Anti-Allergy Plan
To find out if you could be allergic to dairy, follow this plan based on the
3 “Rs”: Remove all dairy, repair your digestive tract, and reboot your body.
Week 1: Remove All Dairy
Remove all the dairy from your diet for an entire week, which is how long
your system needs for internal inflammation to settle down. Replace dairy milk
with almond milk, which tastes good and has high quality protein and fat in it.
In addition, replace butter with olive oil, a great source of good fat that
contains oleic acid and anti-inflammatory properties.
Week 2: Repair Your Digestive Tract
If your gut is damaged by dairy, repair it with healthy bacteria found in
probiotics. Choose a pro-biotic supplement that contains both bifidobacterium
and lactobacillus bacteria. Select a product in pill or powder form that has
10-50 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) and take that amount daily. Be wary
of liquid-based products, which may not be as active, along with food products
with added probiotics.
Week 3: Reboot Your Body
Now that you have a clean digestive slate, it’s time to reboot and see if
dairy was causing your weight gain. Start by adding one dairy food back at a
time and keep a food log of your body’s reactions. Ask yourself: Am I more
tired? Am I bloated? Do I have fluid retention? All of these potential factors
could be clues that you have a hidden food sensitivity to dairy.
If you think you’re allergic to dairy at the end of three weeks, see your doctor for a blood test, which can help determine if you have elevated levels of a certain antibody that could be causing inflammation. If you are indeed allergic, you can use the above plan stay allergy- and inflammation-free.