WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FOOD SENSITIVITY AND A FOOD ALLERGY OR INTOLERANCE?
Although there is much debate in scientific and medical circles as to how to define these three terms, the general consensus is that food allergy can be defined as any adverse reaction to food that involves the immune system. The underlying trigger mechanism is what differentiates a true food allergy from food sensitivity – allergies are mediated by Immunoglobulin E (IgE) and food sensitivities are mediated by white blood cells, IgG, IgM and complement. There are also many practical differences between the two: an allergic reaction usually produces symptoms within minutes to hours of consumption, requires only one molecule of the food substance to trigger a reaction, and may be life-threatening, whereas a food sensitivity can produce symptoms from 45 minutes to three days following ingestion, is often dose dependent, and usually chronic in nature. Even “healthy” foods can provoke symptoms in sensitive individuals.
Food intolerance can produce symptoms similar to food sensitivity, but does not involve the immune system. A well-known example of this is lactose intolerance, which is caused by the body’s inability to produce enough of the enzyme lactase to digest lactose (aka, “milk sugar”) resulting in the fermentation of lactose in the gut leading to bloating, gas and/or diarrhea.
WHAT CAUSES FOOD SENSITIVITIES?
There is still much to be learned about how food sensitivities develop, but the following are the most widely accepted factors that can help cause food sensitivities:
Unbalanced gut flora
Immune system overload
Overexposure to chemicals
WHAT IS A LEAP THERAPIST?
LEAP therapists are registered dietitians who are trained in the identification and management of food sensitivities by Oxford Biomedical Technologies, the administrator of the Mediator Release Test.
DO I NEED A REFERRAL FROM MY DOCTOR?
The short answer is no. BUT, if you would like to submit a claim to your insurance company for reimbursement of my service charges, they may require a physician referral to do so. I recommend calling the 1-800 number on the back of your insurance card to verify coverage for nutrition services, and to ask about the need for a referral and any other medical documentation.
WHAT IS MEDIATOR RELEASE TESTING (MRT) AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
MRT is a patented blood test that identifies food and food chemical sensitivities that can play a role in many common health conditions and chronic health complaints. Irritable bowel syndrome, chronic diarrhea, heartburn/reflux, migraines and other headaches, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, irritability, chronic sinusitis, difficulty losing weight and skin eruptions are just a few of the conditions that may be related to immune reactions to food and/or food additives. MRT quantifies how strongly your immune cells react to the foods and chemicals tested by - it is an indirect method of accurately measuring mediator release, by measuring the change in the ratio of liquid to solids in your blood after your blood has been exposed and incubated with test substances. Mediators are the chemicals released from white blood cells that cause inflammation, pain and other symptoms associated with food sensitivities. All measurements are made using Ribbon technology, the most accurate method of measurement currently available.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MRT AND OTHER TESTING FOR FOOD SENSITIVITIES?
There are several testing methods currently available for detection of food sensitivities and each testing method has a different approach to identify reactive foods and chemicals - Mediator Release Testing measures intracellular mediator release. A blinded peer reviewed scientific study showed MRT to have the highest level of accuracy of any food sensitivity blood test (94.5% sensitivity and 91.8% specificity)2.
WHAT IS THE LEAP PROGRAM AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
LEAP stands for Lifestyle Eating And Performance. The LEAP diet program works by eliminating the foods and food-substances that trigger a non-allergic immune response, and building a healthy diet from those non-reactive foods for each individual client.
To achieve optimal results from Mediator Release Testing and the LEAP program, a commitment to nutrition counseling for a minimum of 10 weeks is recommended. The suggested diet and lifestyle changes, however, are meant to be indefinite.
WILL MY INSURANCE PAY FOR YOUR SERVICES?
Medical insurance companies may or may not offer coverage for outpatient nutrition counseling, so you should carefully investigate the types of coverage you have. Although you may have insurance that will reimburse you, please understand that it is your responsibility to pay for your visit and to have your insurance company reimburse you, if applicable.