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INFLAMMATION: FANNING THE FLAMES

Food intolerance produces a host of symptoms, which is bad enough. But it also causes a number of interrelated problems, each of which makes all the others worse. One of those problems is inflammation, a major cause of weight gain and weight-loss resistance.

Ironically, inflammation is a necessary by-product of any intense immune response — that is, it's supposed to help your system heal. When your body is invaded by a toxin, bacteria or a virus or traumatized by a wound, your immune system swiftly triggers a cascade of healing and protective chemicals that rush to the site. You can think of your immune system as an ambulance that comes roaring to the rescue after an accident.

But suppose the ambulance driver is so anxious to reach you that he crashes right through the side of your house? That's inflammation — the negative side effects of the healing process.

The four classic inflammatory responses are redness, heat, pain and swelling, symptoms that are easily visible when the injury can be seen. Think of how a cut on your finger turns red and how warm and tender the skin becomes, or imagine how a bugbite on your ankle might swell. Those reactions occur inside your body, too, when a high-FI food triggers an immune reaction. Your digestive tract becomes inflamed. If you frequently eat foods that inflame your system — either foods to which you're sensitive or foods that contain inflammatory fats (e.g., dairy, eggs and corn) — then you're likely to suffer from chronic low-grade inflammation. And you're running the risk of weight-loss resistance and obesity.

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