Weight Gain is Common for Individuals with Celiac Disease.
Research in the American Journal of Gastroenterology indicates weight gain is common in those diagnosed with celiac disease (CD), even after those individuals adopt a strict gluten-free diet.
This is contrary to what most believe about the “typical” celiac patient. However, the stereotypical skeleton of an undiagnosed celiac patient is not typical at all. The fact is, upon diagnosis, as many as 33% of all individuals with CD are overweight.
That number, combined with the number of individuals who gain weight after diagnosis of CD, adds up to a significant number of individuals on a gluten-free diet in need of shedding excess weight.
Theories on why certain individuals gain weight after adopting a gluten-free diet range from increased calorie (and nutrient) absorption due to healing of the small intestine, to the higher fat and calorie content of gluten-free packaged foods some individuals consume on their gluten-free diet.
Regardless of the reason, if you are among those in need of losing weight, science indicates clearing the lymphatic system is one of the most effective – and underrated, under-discussed – means you can use to set yourself firmly on the path to your healthy weight.
The lymphatic system has a close relationship with the immune system. By understanding this connection as it relates to celiac disease and by implementing simple strategies to keep the lymphatic system clear, many individuals are surprised at how quickly those extra pounds melt away.
Overview of the Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is a complex network of organs including tonsils, adenoids, spleen and thymus, as well as nodes (small structures located in clusters in various parts of the body like the neck, underarms, groin and inside the chest and abdomen), and numerous ducts and vessels. This entire network is part of the body’s immune system.
The lymphatic system produces and transports lymph, a clear fluid made mostly of white blood cells with some red blood cells and proteins. This fluid circulates throughout the body, bathing our cells, providing them with nutrients and oxygen and also picking up unwanted substances like fats, bacteria, and other negative materials to filter them out of the body.
Lymph is the Body’s Major Fat-Processing System.
In addition to the “clearing” functions of lymph, it is also the body’s major fat-processing system. Lymph carries fatty acids to the liver, our main fat burning organ, for further processing and metabolism. In order for proper fat metabolism to occur, the lymph system and the liver must be kept in tip-top shape. When these systems become toxic, they no longer perform as they should to clear the body of toxins, unwanted substances and fat. This causes fat to accumulate in the body, especially in the abdomen (tummy), as well as other negative signs of a sluggish lymphatic system.
Due to their close relationship, when the immune system is compromised, so is the lymphatic system.
With autoimmune diseases like CD, the immune system attacks “self” tissue – the lining of the small intestine – in response to gluten consumption. This response compromises the immune system, which also means our lymphatic system is compromised. This can lead to ineffective fat metabolism and weight gain.
Signs of a Sluggish Lymphatic System
- Abdominal fat (belly fat)
- Bloating and puffiness throughout the body (especially in the abdomen, face and under eye area)
- Fluid retention or swelling
- Acid reflux or indigestion
Other, more serious, symptoms can also occur:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Depression (mood swings)
- Skin rash
We Must Enhance Lymphatic Function for Weight Loss
While our bodies naturally detoxify each day to eliminate and neutralize toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands and skin, sometimes the amount of toxins can be overwhelming.
In addition to foods we eat, there are environmental pollutants and chemicals in beauty and self-care products to consider.
When the system becomes overloaded with toxins, the body must find somewhere to store these additional foreign invaders to prevent us from being poisoned. That storage place is outside the main system…in body fat.
When enough toxins build up in the body fat, we begin to feel swollen, puffy, bloated and even tired.
Fortunately, there are simple steps we can take to rid our bodies of excess toxins, thus clearing and enhancing our lymphatic system and very likely dropping a few pounds along the way.
5 Effortless Ways to Enhance Lymph Function and Lose Weight
Pure, filtered water is important to a healthy lymphatic system. Inadequate hydration slows down the filtering process of the lymph system and causes the body to retain water, leading to bloat and storage of toxins in fatty tissues. This can lead to a thickening of fatty tissues and cellulite. Studies indicate adequate hydration improves lymph flow and reduces cellulite in women. The Institute of Medicine suggests an adequate intake for men is 13 cups (or 3 liters) of total beverages a day. For women, the recommendation is 9 cups (or 2.2 liters) of total beverages a day. Making the majority of these cups pure water is key to optimal health.
2. Reduce sugar.
Sugar inhibits the liver’s production of enzymes necessary for detoxifying the body. Sugar also causes the liver to work much harder since it must change the sugar into fats for metabolism. Consuming sugar in moderation and paying attention to hidden sugars in foods like condiments (particularly barbecue sauces and ketchup), beverages, yogurt and packaged foods goes a long way in cutting out excess sugar.
3. Choose fats wisely.
Avoiding trans fat is crucial for liver health. Trans fats, created when vegetable oils are hydrogenated, increase fatty deposits in the liver. Instead of cooking with margarine, vegetable shortenings and standard vegetable oil, opt for olive or coconut oil for cooking and flax oil for salad dressings and no-heat applications (flax oil does not handle heat well, so should not be used for cooking and baking).
4. Eat to speed the process.
Lean proteins, both plant and animal derived, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits are great ways to aid the body in ridding toxins. Keep in mind, preparation is key! Avoid frying, opt for oven frying, steam, sauté or roast for optimal flavor and nutrition. If you can tolerate beans and legumes, add those to your diet to help cleanse the system, too.
Be sure to avoid ALL allergens – even those that cause the mildest reactions. For example, some individuals can tolerate small amounts of soy, if eaten in moderation only occasionally. In cases where the system is toxic and the lymphatic function is compromised, it may be best to avoid these foods all together to speed lymph cleansing and in turn, weight loss. Remember, everything the body views as a foreign invader – even a slight one – sets the immune response into action and in turn, places stress on the lymph system and liver.
5. Movement is essential.
Lymph fluid moves through vessels with one-way valves. This means lymph fluid that bathes our cells and carries away toxins always moves in the same direction. Without adequate movement, the cells are left stewing in their own waste products and starving for nutrients, a situation that contributes to arthritis, cancer and other degenerative diseases.
The main lymph vessels run up the legs, up the arms and up the torso. For this reason, vertical up-and-down movement is effective in moving our lymph through the system efficiently.
You may have heard this movement referred to as rebounding.
Rebounding is an exercise performed by jumping on a “rebounder” or small trampoline. This is gentle on joints, allows for continued gentle movement stimulating the organs and body fluids, like lymph.
Advocates of rebounding assert these benefits:
- Decreases body fat
- Strengthens and firms legs, thighs, abdomen (core), arms, and hips
- Increases agility
- Improves balance
- Contributes to overall muscle strength
- Supports cardiac health due to the aerobic effect it has
In addition, therapeutic massage and adequate sleep go a long way to support lymphatic function in the body and can ultimately lead to significant weight loss.