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Can food allergies cause weight gain?

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If you’ve dieted and exercised until you are a starving, sweaty mess and the weight still won’t come off, could a food allergy be the culprit?

Probably not. Some allergies are fast-acting and leave hives or other obvious symptoms as a calling card. But some allergies or intolerances are stealth and may mimic everyday ailments. These allergies can worsen with age and lead to inflammation, fluid retention, gas and even be mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome. Fatigue or joint pain can also be a symptom.

All of these symptoms can lead to the perception of weight gain.

Main Food Allergens to Blame

If you suspect you may have a food allergy or intolerance, these are the foods to start cutting out.

  • Wheat. An allergy to gluten is known as celiac disease and it’s on the rise. Additionally, more and more people are discovering they have wheat intolerance. In either case, the lining of your intestines will become inflamed upon consumption of the food, and your body will try to work harder to digest it by producing more gas. You may experience bloating, constipation, and weight gain, diarrhea or joint pain.
  • Dairy. Lactose is the sugar in cow’s milk, and it can be especially difficult for an adult to process. Reactions can range from an allergy to an intolerance, as with wheat. You may experience hives, abdominal cramps, upset stomach, coughing or wheezing.
  • Tree nuts. In adults, this allergy can be slow-acting compared to a childhood allergy which is more immediate. Tree nuts and peanuts can cause weight gain for adults who develop an allergy because the body fights by increasing insulin levels. Insulin is a fat-storing hormone and a leading cause of obesity. With this allergy or intolerance you may experience itchy throat, stomach pain, diarrhea or wheezing.
  • Corn. Corn contains a commercially-made protein known as zein. This protein is similar to gluten in wheat. Most people don’t have the ability to digest it so it goes partially undigested, making the intestinal tract unhappy. Headache, aching muscles, joint inflammation and fatigue are common.

Source: Shutterstock


This article originally stated that food allergies can cause weight gain. We have made a correction and apologize for the error.

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