At least 80 percent of my female clients complain of lower abdominal bloating, and 70 to 80 percent of my male clientele gripe of indigestion or chronic sinus issues.

Did you know:

• The leading cause of obesity is food sensitivity?

• That 60 to 80 percent of the population is sensitive to one or more foods?

• Food sensitivities are a primary cause of emotional problems?

Are you constantly struggling on reaching or maintaining a healthy weight due to food cravings? Foods you are sensitive to are toxic to your system. If you crave or are addicted to a specific food, you are probably sensitive to it.

Food sensitivities can cause many health ailments and some serious conditions, such as lupus or autism. The toxic conditions most commonly associated with food sensitivities are skin rashes and hives, disrupted sleep, constipation, runny nose, itchy eyes and ears, bluish or black tint under the eyes, chronic cough, stiff neck, joint pain, bags under the eyes, sore throat, headache, bad breath, back ache, asthma and sinus congestion.

Years ago, Dr. Arthur Coca popularized the "pulse test" for food allergy. He found that some (but definitely not all) allergic individuals have a significant increase in their resting pulse after eating a particular food allergen. Others have observed that eating certain trigger foods causes them to retain fluids, which manifests as a significant weight gain that doesn't disappear by the next morning (like most water-weight gain).

Any body system can react to food allergy: Some allergies may affect your pulse or weight, while other allergies don't affect pulse or weight at all.

Food allergy is the reaction of the body's immune system to a food or food ingredient that it recognizes as "foreign."

Food intolerance/sensitivity is an adverse reaction to a food, food ingredient or additive that does not involve the immune system; it typically involves the digestive system.

The top eight foods responsible for 90 percent of food reactions are:

1. Milk and dairy products

2. Eggs

3. Sugar

4. Fish and shellfish

5. Soy

6. Corn

7. Wheat and gluten

8. Peanuts and tree nuts (such as almonds and walnuts.

In addition, many people are intolerant to MSG, food dyes, artificial sweeteners, sulfites and other preservatives, beer, wine and cocktail mixes.

What can you do?

For one week, eliminate all dairy products, corn, eggs, soy, peanuts and wheat. If your symptoms disappear after one week, you need go no further. However, if you still aren't symptom-free after eliminating all dairy, corn, eggs soy, peanuts and wheat, additionally avoid anything containing gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats, etc.), tomatoes, citrus fruits, shrimp, crab and other shell fish, chocolate, yeast, coffee and all artificial sweeteners (aspartame). Supplements and protein powders with additives and fillers should also be eliminated.

If you have persistent health issues that don't seem to get better no matter what you do, you should consider having a thorough screening done even if you get a negative result on your self-test.

To avoid food sensitivities, it's important to get into the habit of rotating all foods every day and reading the list of ingredients on all products. I challenge you to eliminate the top eight culprit foods and let me know how good you feel and look.

Paula is a nutritionist, fitness expert and weight loss coach in Ahwatukee with more than 20 years of experience. Reach her at

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