What are Food Sensitivities?
Millions of Americans suffer from IBS, Migraines, and Fibromyalgia without ever finding permanent relief. Hours are wasted at doctor appointments, procedures, and seeing specialists. The end result is often the same, “Everything looks normal.” Medications might provide a temporary relief of symptoms, but they rarely seem to actually provide a permanent solution. Patients often continue to experience debilitating symptoms that prevent them from fully enjoying life.
So what do IBS, Migraines, and Fibromyalgia all have in common? The answer is: Inflammation. Food sensitivities are a common trigger for inflammation and occur when your immune system identifies a normal food as harmful. The majority of your immune system is in your gut, about 70%. Your immune system identifying a food or food-chemical as dangerous it what causes a food sensitivity.
So you eat a food and it makes its way along your digestive tract to your small intestine, where that food then comes into contact with your gut lining and immune system. Food particles then pass from your gut into your bloodstream. Chemicals called mediators (cytokines, interleukins, prostaglandins, histamine, etc) are released from white blood cells (WBC) when your blood is exposed to foods the immune system has identified as harmful. The release of mediators from WBC are what cause inflammation and symptom manifestation, such as GI issues, headaches, joint pain, or body aches.
People with IBS, Migraines, and Fibromyalgia are often referred to dietitians for nutrition counseling, but these conditions can be difficult to treat with standard dietary approaches. Patients may be able to identity a few foods that cause symptoms, but usually it is very difficult to find a pattern or any consistencies. Traditional elimination diets may not be effective because a patient could be reactive to the foods in the first phase of the diet.
Furthermore, food sensitivity reactions are dosage dependent and can be delayed up to 72 hours, which makes it even harder to identify trigger foods. And a person can even react to traditional health foods, such as berries, chicken, olive oil, salmon, or spinach. Food sensitivities also follow different immune pathways than food allergies or intolerances.
Mediator Release Testing (MRT) tests a blood sample against 170 different foods and food-chemicals to see if WBC release mediators when exposed to those foods or chemicals. A custom elimination diet, called LEAP, is then created using an individual’s least reactive foods. The LEAP diet allows the immune system to calm down. Most people experience at least a 50% reduction of symptoms within the first two weeks, just by focusing on their least reactive foods. Eventually higher reactive foods can be challenged.
The exact cause of chronic GI issues, daily migraines, constant body aches, and joint pain is unknown, but the common thread is inflammation. Food sensitivities, which cause inflammation, can play a role in a number of other conditions such as: IBD (Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis), Rheumatoid Arthritis, Eczema, Psoriasis, GERD, ADD/ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
If you suffer from any of these conditions, MRT and going through the LEAP diet protocol could be the key to discovering your specific food sensitivities to reduce inflammation and improve your health.
To summarize, food sensitivities happen when the immune system decides a food or food-chemical is harmful. When a person ingests a reactive food, the WBC respond by releasing proinflammatory mediators. The person then experiences symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, headaches, migraines, skin conditions, behavior problems, body aches, or joint pain. MRT is a blood test that shows if WBC are reacting to 170 foods and food chemicals. A custom elimination diet, called LEAP, is then created from the MRT results. The LEAP diet is used to reduce inflammation and symptoms.
For more information, I recommend watching this video by my LEAP mentor, Susan Linke: