Food Sensitivities, Explained

Food Sensitivities, Explained

For a variety of reasons, food sensitivities are on the rise among seemingly healthy people. And while the root cause will be individualized, the reaction within the body is the same. We know that a properly functioning digestive system is key for optimal health, so when we experience gas, bloating, burping, cravings, acid reflux, constipation, IBS, abdominal cramping, leaky gut and food sensitivities—we should also know that these are signs of dysfunction. Since food sensitivities can be delayed (48-72 hours), it is common to have reactions and not connect the symptoms to the offending food. The good news is these reactions are often relieved by identifying and eliminating certain reactive foods for a period of time. 

What is happening in the body
Secretory IgA is secreted by mucosal tissue and represents this tissue’s first line of defense to protect the delicate intestinal lining (epithelium) against ingested toxins and pathogens. Adequate levels of Secretory IgA (measured on the GI MAP, another lab test I utilize in my practice) are crucial for maintaining normal gut function and gut immunity. It has influence in the balance of our intestinal microbes, keeps inflammation processes under control and perhaps most importantly, strengthens the tight cellular junctions to maintain intestinal impermeability. An IgA reaction—also known as a delayed response reaction—is what food sensitivities are (an IgE response is immediate and is considered a true food allergy). IgA increases in response to foods when the foods we eat cause inflammation, and in response to stress, disease or alcohol.


How to tell if you have food sensitivities

If you’ve found yourself not knowing what to eat to avoid feeling “off,” are nervous to eat some foods, or are eating the same five foods over and over because they’re the only foods that don’t bother you—you may have food sensitivities. Or if you’re finding an increase in symptoms such as nausea, bloating, fatigue, skin eruptions (or rashes), headaches, heart palpitations, achy joints, constipation, or gastrointestinal pain to name a few—you may be dealing with a food sensitivity. When you experience these symptoms, you should absolutely dig deeper because your body trying to give you feedback that something IS off. Food sensitivities are a symptom, not the problem. There are a number of different possible reasons for food sensitivities—they most often occur when you have digestive dysfunction, leaky gut and/or dysbiosis (pathogenic overgrowth).


  1. Digestive Dysfunction – Poor digestion is very common in today’s society because we’re all stressed, eating processed food, haves imbalanced microbiome, could have thyroid dysfunction—even gallbladder removal surgeries are common. When we live in a “flight or fight” state, our body is unable to produce enough stomach acid and digestive enzymes, so our body is unable to properly break down our food. This can lead to large food particles getting into the system, which alerts our immune system to put up a fight. Literally any food can cause a reaction in the gut if we aren't breaking it down well. In my practice, I utilize the MRT 170 Food Sensitivity test, so we can see if foods like chicken, almonds, avocado, eggs and coconut are reactive, especially if they are frequently eaten foods.
  2. Intestinal Permeability – The tight junctions between the epithelial cells that make up the delicate (one cell thick) lining of gut are the throughway between the intestines and bloodstream — controlling what is allowed to pass into the bloodstream from the digestive system. If we have poor digestion, we potentially have undigested fats, carbs and proteins (or other wrong things) freely leaking into the bloodstream or the lymphatic system, causing our immune system to react because it doesn't recognize these undigested food particles as nutrients. In this compromised state, our body will work hard to fight off the foreign substances, leaving us susceptible to not only food sensitivities, but pathogenic and fungal overgrowths, seasonal allergies, systemic inflammation, and even chronic autoimmune diseases.
  3. Gut Dysbiosis  Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to trillions of bacteria and millions of microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, viruses, parasites, etc.). These “gut bugs” are essential for human life as they assist in functionality such as digestion, energy production and detoxification. If you’re bloated after every meal, especially after a meal containing carbs, you might have an overgrowth of “bad bacteria.” When we have less stomach acid and poor digestion, we tend to allow parasites and pathogens to get through and inhabit our GI tract. This alters the balance of good to bad bacteria leading to low numbers of our normal flora and an overgrowth of bad (opportunistic) bacteria, and sometimes yeast. This only leads to more dysfunction and likely food sensitivities.

What is the MRT 176?

The Mediator Release Test (MRT) is a blood test that I use in my practice that analyzes your blood’s response to 176 different foods, beverages and chemicals. Oxford Labs determines your bio-individualized response to these items by measuring the size of your white blood cells before and after exposure to each tested item. The more your white blood cells shrink, the more pro-inflammatory chemicals they have released, and thus the stronger your food sensitivity reaction. The results show us your blood’s reaction level to each food, beverage or chemical, as indicated by a color-coded bar graph. There are a lot of food sensitivity tests on the market, but ultimately, the MRT 176 is the best option for testing food sensitivities because it captures ALL types of food sensitivity reactions (type III and IV) by indirectly measuring the release of inflammatory chemicals called mediators. It’s the release of mediators that cause symptoms of food sensitivities. The value though, ultimately lies in the resulting healing protocol I’m able to customize for you based on the results of both the MRT 176 and GI MAP (stool test).

Guess what? You can heal food sensitivities

Food sensitivities—and the inflammation they cause in our bodies—can change after a short period of avoidance, post-MRT testing. The goal of food sensitivity testing is to identify reactive foods, beverages and chemicals, eliminate them (or rotate consumption) from the diet for a period of time in order to reduce inflammation and heal the gut lining, before slowly reintroducing the healthy, nutrient-dense foods that help our bodies thrive. But for anyone who has experienced food sensitivities, the reintroduction phase can come with a side of apprehension. Luckily, I can help identify what is causing the issue and come up with an easy-to-follow plan that eliminates the need to do an elimination diet. By identifying and removing exacerbating foods, you’re on the road to having a healthy gut. And a healthy gut makes for a healthier you. Think your health is worth investing in? Contact me today.

Back to blog
1 of 4