Health Topic and Tips March 2011

Weight Gain and Food Sensitivities

Geoff Lecovin, D.C., N.D., L.Ac., CSCS

Conventional ideas about weight gain revolve around the premise that when there is an imbalance between how many calories you ingest and the amount of energy you expend through activity, the surplus of energy (calories) will be stored as fat. However, what if you have restricted your food, think you have a good diet, exercise regularly and still can’t lose weight? You may be sensitive to the foods you are eating.

Reactions to foods are not always immediate. They can occur hours later as bloating and swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, abdomen, chin or around the eyes. Much of the weight gained is fluid retention caused by inflammation and the release of certain hormones. In addition, there can be fermentation of foods, particularly carbohydrates, in the intestines, which can result in a swollen, distended belly and gas production. Food allergies as well as food sensitivities can cause weight gain.

Some other common symptoms of food sensitivities can include headache, indigestion or heartburn, fatigue, depression, joint pain or arthritis, canker sores, chronic respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, sinus congestion or bronchitis, eczema, and chronic bowel problems such as diarrhea or constipation.

Diagnosing food sensitivities can be done through a variety of methods. The “gold standard” for identifying adverse food reactions is the elimination diet, whereby patients eliminate foods they most frequently eat, adhere to a hypoallergenic rotation diet and then challenge foods one-by-one to look for reactions. Unfortunately, this is a tedious process and compliance is often low. Blood testing, while not perfect, is another way to help identify these reactions.

If you suspect you may have a food sensitivity, you can also try a modified elimination diet by eliminating the foods you eat most often for a week and seeing how you feel, or if your weight changes. If you notice a difference, further investigation may help to optimize weight loss as well as address some of your chronic health conditions.

Common food sensitivities include dairy, wheat, corn, eggs, citrus, coffee, sugar, chocolate, yeast, tomato, peanuts, nuts, shellfish and soy. It is important to read food labels carefully during the elimination diet to avoid hidden ingredients (sticking with a whole foods diet is highly recommended).

For more information, please contact Dr. Geoff Lecovin at or by phone at (425) 646-4747.

Research Reviews: Primary Raynaud’s Phenomenon

“Auricular electroacupuncture reduces frequency and severity of Raynaud attacks,” Schlager O, E Gschwandtner M, et al, Wien Klin Wochenschr, 2011 Feb 17; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: Division of Angiology, Department of Internal Medicine II, Vienna Medical University, Vienna General Hospital, Vienna, Austria).

In a study involving 26 patients with primary Raynaud’s phenomenon (PRP), who received 6 weekly treatments with auricular electroacupuncture (a form of acupuncture involving treatment of points on the ears with acupuncture needles attached to an electrical stimulator), significant reductions in attack frequency and attack associated pain were found after 3 and 6 weeks of auricular electroacupuncture treatment. Furthermore, these improvements sustained post-treatment, including up to 24 weeks when they were re-assessed.

Acupuncture Relieves Pain in Patients with Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Clinical and endocrinological changes after electro-acupuncture treatment in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Ahsin S, Saleem S, et al, Pain, 2009; Sept 17; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: Department of Physiology, Army Medical College Rawalpindi, Pakistan; Department of Natural Sciences, School of Health and Social Science, Middlesex University, UK).

Recommended Reading:

Good Calorie Bad Calorie by Gary Taubes

Recommended Movies:

What the Bleep Do We Know

Recipe of the Month:

Dr. Geoff’s Power Smoothie

Almond milk- 1 cup

Whey protein powder- 20 g (Whole Foods Vanilla Whey)

Frozen mixed berries- ½ cup

Banana- ½

Plain, low-fat Greek style yogurt- 6 oz

Ground hempseed – 2 tbsp

Spinach leaves – 1 cup packed, fresh leaves

About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin