Do I offer food sensitivity testing as part of my services as a nutritionist?
An example of a food sensitivity is when you eat a food and get a reaction. For example, a person eats cherries and gets diarrhea. Or a person eats a particular grain and has joint pain the next day. The reaction can occur fairly quickly (diarrhea), and can also be delayed for 24-48 hours (joint pain). When the latter occurs, it can make it especially difficult to identify the trigger food!
I get asked if I offer food sensitivity tests during Get Acquainted calls where we do a quick chat to see if we’re a good match for working together…so I thought it would make a great blog!
Differentiating the Two Types of Tests
First, let us distinguish the difference between a food ALLERGY test and a food SENSITIVITY test.
Food allergies are often life threatening. And they involve what is called an IgE immune reaction. Peanuts and shellfish are typical examples of life threatening, IgE mediated, food allergies. You need to see a doctor to do this type of test.
Food sensitivities, on the other hand, are a health issue, but tongues don’t swell, and airways don’t constrict. They are an IgG mediated reaction and are not life threatening. Eating pineapple and getting a migraine is an example of an IgG mediated food sensitivity. Nutritionists and other mid-level providers often order food sensitivity tests.
Years ago, I did offer food sensitivity tests to my patients. I was trained to offer the MRT – Mediator Release Test. I chose it because I had heard remarkable testimonies, and it not only identified food triggers, but also chemical triggers.
What do I mean by chemical triggers? I remember two women in particular who learned their migraines were triggered by PolySorbate 80. It’s a common food preservative. For example, it’s in a brand of mayonnaise, many boxed foods, and it’s found in the coating of some over-the-counter medications. Identifying this chemical substance as a trigger, and being able to read labels to avoid it, was life changing for both of these ladies.
So, do I still offer food sensitivity testing? The short answer is no.
Here’s why I no longer offer food sensitivity tests to my patients
1 – If someone wanted to repeat a food sensitivity test for a variety of reasons, we didn’t get the same results. I understand that bodies can change, but there were also studies that documented that you could take two blood samples – from one person – and send both samples to the same lab under two different names and get two different results. Wha???? That makes it hard to fully trust the results. I did have a few patients who wanted to re do the test for one reason or another and the results would be different. Now which one is right?!
2 – Pretty much every patient would get their food sensitivity test results back and say “I can eat xyz food and I feel fine but my results say that it’s a problem food. And my results also say that xyz food is safe for me, but every time I test it, I get sick”.
Example: I had a patient named Lindi and her test results said that it was safe to eat cherries, but she should avoid raspberries as they were an identified trigger food. She could and did eat raspberries without a problem, but every time she had cherries she got a migraine.
3 – My patients did have improvement in their symptoms when we would work through the elimination of trigger foods, and then re-introduction/testing phase. But, I took EVERY single patient off gluten and dairy regardless of what their food sensitivity test results indicated.
I was taught at Bastyr University – where I did my graduate work – that these two foods are by far the biggest troublemakers for people. So I believe that people had a reprieve of their symptoms “just” because they were eating a super clean, whole foods diet. No processed food, and the omission of gluten and dairy. That alone is a HUGE step forward for people and can have positive effects and a reduction of symptoms.
4 – As the years went on, I came to see that I could help people achieve the results they wanted, but we could do it without running a blood test that was several hundreds of $$. My goal for every patient is to eat a clean, whole foods diet, devoid not only of gluten and dairy but other foods that are known to contribute to the disease process. And today, I am doing just that….and more!
What is the “And more” you ask?
A lot of people hire me, and are following a low-histamine or low-FODMAP diet (but without any long term success.)
As I mentioned in #4 above, I was seeing people get relief from their symptoms “just” by eliminating any processed foods and taking out common trigger foods and foods that contribute to the disease process.
After I was diagnosed with Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease and Epstein Barr Virus in 2015, I started studying material I wasn’t taught in graduate school. Not only did I learn about immune health, I started to understand how the liver plays a role in our overall health. After all, the liver has 500 documented jobs and Anthony Williams says the liver does 2000 chemical functions for us each day! I spent a few years and thousands of hours studying all the pieces, and all the dots started connecting.
Fast forward to today, I feel very confident that I can help people heal their food intolerance’s along with other digestive conditions like SIBO, IBS, etc. Not just manage them. But actually help them heal and attain a level of health they may not have ever had previously!
Meet Jill: When Jill first hired me, she had a shrinking list of foods she tolerated. I remember her saying that if she bought a pint of strawberries, she could eat a few. But then the next day, she’d have to avoid the strawberries and eat blueberries or she would break out in a red histamine-type rash. She would have to rotate foods like this all week. She was even reacting to spinach! Her diet choices were limited and she was experiencing more symptoms as time went on. She was scared that eventually she wouldn’t tolerate any foods! Within a few months of our work together, Jill reported that she was able to eat more foods! And it just kept getting better as she worked through what was necessary for her individual healing (each patient is different).
I have healed my food intolerance’s too! I spent 20 years labeling myself as “non-celiac gluten sensitive” but after all of the healing I have done, I can now eat gluten without ill effects. I still believe gluten is a manipulated food and not in my best interest on a daily basis, but if we are traveling or socializing and options are limited, it allows me to live a life of freedom and make choices without having to fret about every single morsel I eat.
Over time, I’ve now helped many people reverse and heal their food intolerance’s.
It’s so great! I love my job!
If you are interested in improving YOUR health, check out my “20 Steps to Heal Your Liver Naturally” training. It’s a downloadable audio and just like the title says, it has 20 very clear action steps you can incorporate. Not many health care providers understand the role our liver has in our overall health. I know it wasn’t in my original training. But healing your liver is powerful for restoring your health and regaining resiliency!
I’ve also got some free guides for you!
CEO & Founder of Healthy Lifestyles, Inc (since 1999)
Americas Virtual and Integrative Nutritionist
Healthy Food & Lifestyle Expert
I help people with chronic and mystery illness recover their health.
Specializing in Gastrointestinal Conditions, Neurological Disorders, Immune Dysfunction, and Toxicity issues