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Food Allergies vs. Food Intolerances


Over the past decade, I've studied weight-loss resistance, a phrase I define as a condition that affects a person who is doing everything correctly (i.e. eating correctly and exercising) but not able to consistently lose 2-3 pounds a week.

Food intolerances are a huge culprit for weight-loss resistance. Working with my own clients and some of the country's top doctors who test for them, I've confirmed that about 75% of people have some sort of food intolerance.

I looked at numerous clients' test results to determine the most common food intolerances. I eventually narrowed these down to 7 highly reactive foods: soy, gluten, dairy, eggs, peanuts, corn and artificial sweeteners/sugar.

You know sugar is bad. More studies are proving artificial sweeteners aren't any better. Soy, you've probably heard conflicting reports about. Eggs usually throw people off — they tell me, "But my favorite health guru tells me that eggs are nature's perfect food!"

Well, they are (at least barnyard eggs are), unless you have food intolerances. Even if you don't, you can develop intolerances over time by repeatedly eating eggs.

Leaky gut, inflammation and an immune reaction tied to food intolerances, in fact, frequently result when people over-rely on these highly reactive foods. Vegetarians and vegans, for instance, often depend on soy as their primary protein source, while low-carb dieters have eggs every morning. Repeatedly eating these foods can trigger food intolerances.

I discovered that when people pull these 7 highly reactive foods, their symptoms disappear. They look and feel better. Friends ask if they've had "some work done." Perhaps best of all, they are finally able to ditch those last stubborn pounds that have refused to go for years.

Eliminating food intolerances for fast fat loss and optimal health underlies my book, “The Virgin Diet.” I sometimes find people confuse food intolerances with food allergies, so I want to differentiate between the two.

What are Food Allergies?
Peanuts are probably the most-known food allergy. You know the deal: If someone with a peanut allergy accidentally eats them, their throat swells, their body releases large amounts of inflammatory histamine, they go into anaphylactic shock, and without immediate medical intervention, they can die.

Food allergies trigger an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE antibodies are your body's Navy SEALs. These guys don't mess around; they're fast, aggressive and create dramatic action in seconds or minutes after a food triggers an allergic reaction.

Food Allergies vs. Food Intolerances
Food intolerances, on the other hand, encompass three areas: true intolerance, food sensitivities and food reactions. I'll cover each of these briefly.

Food intolerances don't always get the respect food allergies do in the medical world, but as you'll see, they can actually be more damaging because they aren't as dramatic and can subtly creep up over time.

True Intolerances
Genetics can influence whether or not you suffer from true food intolerances. Perhaps your parents had trouble tolerating gluten and you inherited that gene. You might lack a specific enzyme to break down that food.

You can't change your genes, but you can certainly eliminate the seven foods that trigger reactions. For instance, when clients of mine remove gluten from their diets, they notice dramatic improvements and they feel so much better they wonder why they ever accepted "okay" as normal.

Food Reactions
Eating sugar is an example of a food reaction. Let's say you eat a big piece of chocolate cake. Your blood sugar levels spike and your pancreas responds by secreting insulin.

Like an over-zealous security guard, insulin overreacts and pulls your blood sugar down too low, leading to a crash that triggers fatigue and other symptoms. Paradoxically, you're craving the very food that caused your crash.

When clients remove sugar from their diets, their blood sugar levels become balanced. They no longer get those mid-afternoon vending-machine cravings, mood swings, brain fog and other problems that highly reactive foods create.

Food Sensitivities
Whereas food allergies trigger IgE antibodies, food sensitivities signal IgE's cousin immunoglobulin G (IgG). IgG reactions aren't as aggressive or dramatic as IgE, but they still fire up your immune system.

Remember earlier I said allergic reactions occur swiftly and dramatically? Well, food sensitivity symptoms don't appear until several hours or even a few days after you've eaten. So, for instance, you probably wouldn't make that link between the egg-white omelet you had for breakfast and a late-afternoon splitting headache.

What symptoms do food sensitivities create? See how many of these seem familiar to you:

• Digestive trouble - bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea
• Sleep issues - fatigue, insomnia, restlessness, awaking during the night
• Congestion, sneezing and coughing
• Muscle aches and joint pain
• Dark circles under your eyes
• Dull, lifeless hair
• Skin problems - acne and rosacea
• Mood problems - lack of focus, brain fog, depression, anxiety or irritability
• Poor or unsteady energy
• Premature aging
• Weight gain or inability to lose weight

If you recognize any of these symptoms, you probably have food intolerances. When you pull the seven highly reactive foods for just three weeks, these symptoms disappear. As a nice "bonus," you can lose up to seven pounds in the first week alone.

Eliminating the 7 Highly Reactive Foods
In future blog posts, I'll discuss in detail the numerous potential problems these 7 foods can cause. I'll also show you how to challenge 4 of them, 1 week at a time, to see if you can occasionally tolerate them.

Seeing is believing, so don't wait. Take my challenge now, and remove these 7 foods for 3 weeks. And, share your thoughts and results in the comments section below.


Celebrity Nutrition & Fitness expert JJ Virgin is author of NY Times bestseller The Virgin Diet and the bestselling Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy. She was also co-host of TLC's Freaky Eaters. JJ frequently blogs for The Huffington Post, LIVESTRONG.COM, and other prominent media outlets. She created the 4 x 4 Burst Training Workout and regularly appears on TV shows like Rachel Ray and The Today Show to discuss topics such as fast fat loss, weight loss, and food sensitivities.

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