- Food sensitivities are ‘by far the commonest single cause of weight gain,’ says allergy expert
- Everyday foods such as wheat, corn, milk and eggs most common culprits
- Cutting out potential ‘problem’ foods could also relieve ailments such as headaches and low mood
- Calorie counting a strategy that ‘consistently fails millions of people’
By ANNA HODGEKISS October 2012
Whether it’s low fat, low carb, low GI – most of us have tried, and failed, to lose weight at some point.
Now a leading doctor is claiming the problem could be much more deep-rooted – a food sensitivity.
If the body is aggravated by a food, it can cause sensitivity and weight gain, says Dr John Mansfield, a pioneer in the field of allergy and nutrition.
In fact, in his new book, the Six Secrets of Successful Weight Loss, he says food sensitivities are ‘by far the commonest single cause of weight gain,’ rather than too many calories or a lack of exercise.
‘One of the most successful weight loss secrets is to find out if you are sensitive to any ordinary, everyday foods such as wheat, corn, eggs, yeast or milk,’ he told MailOnline.
Dr John Mansfield says the most common reason many of us can’t lose weight is because we have a food sensitivity that causes a response and a reaction in the body that prevents weight loss.
‘Food sensitivities, which vary considerably from one person to another, were the prime cause in more than 70 per cent of the patients I treated over a period of 31 years in clinical practice, specialising in allergy and nutritional medicine.’
He adds that many of us have no idea we are sensitive to certain foods because we eat them all the time – and then put up with symptoms such as headaches or fatigue without realising our diet is to blame.
He said: ‘I wrote the book to help people who are frustrated by diets and still struggle to reach their ideal weight. As every individual has different health and nutritional influences, the ‘one-size-fits-all’ diet does not simply work.
Dr Mansfield has identified the 20 foods most likely to produce a reaction, with the most common at the top:
- Corn Milk and products made from it
- Corn (maize)
- Yeast (used in many products such as bread, vinegar and alcohol)
- Cane sugar
- Barley (malt)
- Beet sugar
- Soy (used frequently in processed foods)
- Cocoa beans (chocolate)
‘Obesity and weight problems have reached epidemic proportions in the western world in the last three decades, with more and more people struggling to achieve their ideal weight.’
Dr Mansfield also quashes the theory that calorie counting and low-fat diets can lead to weight loss.
‘Low-fat diets don’t work because we need fat to regulate our appetites. If you are not eating enough fat your appetite fails to be satisfied and you are constantly hungry, and therefore eat more.
‘The repetitive mantra of the doctors, dieticians and governments is to reduce calorie intake and increase exercise. Yet this approach has not produced the desired results.
‘Despite growing evidence against it, the experts are stuck in the narrow one-track conceptual groove of calorie control, a strategy that consistently fails millions of people.’
Instead, Dr Mansfield advises checking for underlying health issues that may be affecting your weight, such as a thyroid problem (an underactive thyoid can lead to weight gain) and identify food sensitivities ‘that inflame the body and contribute to weight gain’.
The theory is that an allergic -type reation caused by food sensitivies disrupts a feedback mechanism in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus.
After eating, this receives signals from the gut that stored body fat has increased, prompting us to feel less hungry.
‘When this mechanism is working well, your body weight remains constant, despite quite widely varying calorie consumption from day to day,’ said Dr Mansfield.
‘However, the adverse reaction caused by regularly eating foods you are sensitive to causes the ‘constant’ level of weight to be permanently set at an incorrect, higher level.
‘This is why you can’t shed the pounds regardless of what you eat.’
In order to work out which foods might be affecting your health, he advises following an ‘elimination’ diet and gradually re-introducing potential ‘problem’ foods, such as milk, eggs and yeast.
The elimination’ diet allows you to eat as much as you like of the 42 foods identified as being ‘low sensitivity foods’, such as turkey, lamb, many types of fish, lentils, vegetables such as green beans and avocado and fruit such as apples.
Dr Mansfield claims that through this process of elimination of ‘high sensitivity foods’ weight loss is quickly achieved within the first seven days.
However the overall aim of this diet is to introduce a broad range of foods back into the diet that don’t adversely affect weight or induce other symptoms such as headache and fatigue.
‘The process takes on average up to six weeks to reintroduce foods back into your diet but the reality is that you will then know which foods you can eat in quantity, without influencing your weight or how you physically feel,’ he says.
‘It goes against the dieting grain to say “eat as much as you like”, but this is possible on the elimination diet by sticking to eating foods that are on the allowed list and those that you have reintroduced with no adverse effect.
‘You should never feel hungry following this diet. If you do, you are not eating enough of your allowed foods.’
He cites one patient who lost 11lb (5 kg) and all of her symptoms of severe depression in the first seven days.
‘She then reintroduced single foods, one at each meal, and was able to identify just three foods that were the root of all her problems.’
In three months her weight dropped from 13st 2lb to her original weight of 8st.
‘When I saw her seven years later she still weighed the same and had had no recurrence of her medical condition.
‘I realised I had stumbled across an actual cause of weight gain, as there had been absolutely no calorie restriction whatsoever. I know of no single strategy in medicine that has changed more people’s lives than this simple diet.’
The book also discusses the cholesterol ‘myth’, the dangers of low-fat diets and the importance of avoiding refined carbohydrates which Dr Mansfield says cause weight gain, diabetes and coronary artery disease.