This is a guest post from my long time friend Rachel who is a nutrition consultant and functional medicine practitioner. She clues us in on a common hidden causes of weight gain. I have battled with parasites during my loooong healing journey after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in 2010. When the immune system breaks down during an illness we can be open doors for many pathogens to take over. After many protocols and tests my gut and health is on the mend. I hope this article helps you on the healing journey.
Parasites: A Secret Cause of Weight Gain
Could a GI Infection Be Causing Your Weight Gain?
When most of us think of having a GI (gastrointestinal) issue, we (naturally) connect it with digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, pain, diarrhea/constipation, heartburn, and other such common occurrences. While these symptoms can absolutely signify a GI infection, the most fascinating (and deceiving) part is that often we experience no glaring digestive symptoms, but instead are plagued with fatigue, weight gain, mood changes and/or hormonal imbalances. The scary part is, we would never think to link this to a GI infection, therefore never addressing the underlying problem!
First, lets take a quick look at what constitutes a GI Infection. We could be talking about a bacterial (like h. pylori), parasitic, or fungal (like candida) infections. While yeast (candida) is more commonly known, we often associate having a parasite with traveling to exotic places. This might be true, but parasites are also very easily contracted via pets or food and water right here at home. Unfortunately, testing with your MD often comes back clean even when you do, in fact, have a parasite, because they are typically only testing for certain, acute infections.
How do I know if I have a parasite?
Really, the only way to know for sure is to work with a practitioner for testing. There are some great labs out there that do very thorough and affordable GI screening. You can be clued into whether testing is right for you if you experience any of the following:
- Chronic digestive symptoms as described above (heartburn, indigestion, IBS, bloating, gas, etc)
- Mood disturbances (anxiety, depression, etc)
- Constant sugar cravings
- Unexplained weight gain or inability to lose weight with diet and exercise
- Increased food sensitivities/allergies
- Female hormone imbalances (irregular periods, extreme PMS)
- Achy Joints
How do parasites or other GI Infections relate to weight gain??
When we have any of the GI infections listed above (parasite, bacteria, fungal), damage has been (and is being) done to our gut lining. This means that we aren’t able to digest and absorb the nutrients from our food, and this negatively affects our tissues and organs. This is why we may likely experience symptoms in other body systems that do not appear to be directly related to the gut.
In terms of weight gain or inability to lose weight, we must remember the cortisol connection. When we have a chronic GI infection, this triggers inflammation and therefore sends the message to our body that we need more cortisol, a primary anti-inflammatory hormone. Cortisol is also a sort of fat storage hormone, so when we are over-producing it, our body holds onto weight (particularly around the mid section).
What can I do??
The best approach is to work with a practitioner that can guide you in cutting out inflammatory foods to locate any potential food sensitivities and quell inflammation, and test your gut for these types of infections. It is also a really good idea to test your cortisol levels. After seeing whats really going on in your labs, there are easy and effective herbal and supplemental programs to address the problem, alongside (always first and foremost) diet and lifestyle changes as necessary.
Feel free to contact me at madronawellness to inquire about possible testing and how to not only lose the weight, but get back to feeling your best!