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  • Writer's pictureLiz Riesen, RD

How Can Healthy Food Cause Inflammation?

Our food industry is flooded with many of the same ingredients. The most common are: Gluten, Corn, Sugar, Dairy, and Eggs. When these foods are eaten they are supposed to be digested readily by the stomach acid and enzymes in the GI tract. However, in our lives today we are dealing with increasing stress, toxins, medications, antibiotics, lack of nutrients and sleep. All of these things contribute to weakened GI tracts, as well as poor digestion and absorption.

Food Sensitivity Reactions
Could you be suffering from food sensitivities?

What does digestion have to do with inflammation?

If our stomach acid is low then we are not able to break apart the proteins into small enough pieces. The larger pieces will then cause damage to the lining of the GI tract. This damage is what is most commonly termed "leaky gut". Our immune cells, majority of which live just outside the gut lining, get overloaded with too many proteins coming through that it can no longer effectively tell what proteins are harmful and what are safe.

So how do specific foods become harmful?

Food and Tissues are all made of amino acids (protein building blocks). The arrangement of these amino acids is the “name tag” of the food. Our cells read the name tags and this is how they determine if the protein is friend or foe. When our immune cells are overloaded with information they will begin to label innocent food proteins as harmful. The longer our immune cells are in a state of high stress, they can begin to make mistakes and target our own body tissue instead of the food/chemical. This leads to inflammation, poor function and sluggish detoxification.

What can you do to heal the gut and decrease inflammation?

There are elimination diets and nutrition supplements that may help with gut healing and inflammation, however, the issue is that these are not specific to you and your immune cells. The trouble with food reactions involving the immune cells is that it can be incredibly difficult to identify what foods have been labeled as harmful by your cells. Once the immune system is overwhelmed then it is a guessing game as to what food proteins have crossed through the leaky gut wall and come in contact with your immune system.

Immune-mediated food sensitivities can be delayed up to 48 hours, meaning if you ate a banana on Sunday it may take until Monday afternoon for you to physically feel the inflammatory response such as a headache, bloating, pain, skin rash, diarrhea, etc. In the meantime you have eaten 2-3 meals of other foods and are not likely to trace the symptom back to your Sunday banana.

Food sensitivities can also be dose-dependent. This means if you have a small amount of a trigger food you may be fine, but if you eat a larger portion of that same food you will experience painful or annoying symptoms. For example, blueberries in your blueberry muffin were fine but when you ate a cup of frozen blueberries you experienced bloating/pain/fatigue/etc.

Food Sensitivity Testing

This is the most accurate and efficient way to identify trigger foods. The other benefit of food sensitivity testing is that you also get to find out what foods are low-reactive, so you can follow a specific low-inflammatory diet for your body. As a registered dietitian and LEAP therapist, I can help you to understand your results, create a specific low-inflammatory diet for you and provide guidance, recipes and products to make your experience as easy and enjoyable as possible.

The Mediator Release Test by Oxford Biomedical Laboratory has the highest reproducibility rate of all food sensitivity tests on the market at 94.5%, making it the most accurate and comprehensive test available. The MRT tests 170 common food and food chemicals found in our diets today.

How the MRT Test is different than other food sensitivity blood tests is that it does not try to measure one specific immune cell type. Since we have many types of immune cells outside the gut, and any one of them could have a food-specific reaction, the MRT test measures a ratio of liquid:solid. The control sample is your blood on its own. The liquid is your plasma : the solids are your cells. In each test tube is a single food or chemical protein. When your blood is introduced to the foreign protein, the ratio is measured at different time intervals (making sure to measure immediate and delayed reactions). The liquid portion (plasma) will remain constant, but the solids will increase as your immune cells create chemical mediators (messengers). In high amounts, these chemical mediators become damaging and cause inflammation. The reaction is shown as a bar graph, so you can see how large of a reaction occurred. The longer the bar, the higher the reaction. See the image below of a sample report.

Food Sensitivity Test, Sample Report, Mediator Release Test (MRT)
Food Sensitivity Report

Should you get tested?

If you feel like food may be contributing to your symptoms, but you can’t figure out which foods are to blame, food sensitivity testing might be helpful. Some common symptoms that have been tied to food sensitivities, include:

• Fatigue • Brain fog • Headaches • Bloating and Gas • Diarrhea • Constipation • Sinus Congestion • Rashes, Dry or Itchy Skin • Painful Joints • Nausea • Abdominal pain

• Water retention • Unexplained Weight Gain or Weight Loss

If you would like to get tested for food sensitivities you can order the MRT Kit here >>

Please feel free to email me, with any questions you may have, or you can also visit the FAQ page.

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