New Year, Healthier You
By: Alletess Medical Laboratory
It’s 2023; the gym is always full, your fridge is packed with fresh produce, and you are telling yourself that this is the year that your resolutions will stick! Whether it is eating healthier, losing weight, or becoming more consistent, sticking to those resolutions can be tough, especially when you have unknown factors that are hindering your progress.
Did you know that a possible root cause for a lack of motivation, bloating, or even brain fog can stem from food sensitivities?
As a provider, it’s important that you know the factors that could be hindering both you and your patients progress this new year.
Keep reading to discover how food sensitivity testing can help you and your patients accomplish your wellness goals this year!
What are food sensitivities and what are the symptoms associated with them?
When your immune system “doesn’t like” something, it creates antibodies in response to this. The immune system has different types of antibodies, including IgG, IgA, and IgE. When you or your patients have a food sensitivity, it triggers the body to make an IgG mediated response to the specific food. Whereas food allergies tend to have immediate and potentially life threatening reactions, food sensitivities tend to be delayed and cause symptoms such as brain fog, bloating, and inflammation due to delayed immune reactions. These symptoms can severely impact one’s life, by making everyday activities harder to accomplish with increased discomfort. If these feelings are common for you or your patients, order a food sensitivity test!
How can identifying food sensitivities help you and your patients achieve health goals?
Motivation may just be one of the hardest factors that can either hinder or facilitate an individual in achieving their health goals. Motivation is difficult when you or your patients are facing symptoms such as bloating, brain fog, and inflammation. In this section, discover how food sensitivity testing can help with symptom management, keeping motivation up, and holding you and your patients accountable for your health goals!
Most people have experienced what is called brain fog, which describes general confusion and forgetfulness. When people experience brain fog, it is usually associated with feelings of fatigue and difficulty with concentration, which are also symptoms of food sensitivities. Brain fog can be triggered by the inflammation experienced due to food sensitivities. With food sensitivity testing, identifying offending foods can target what is causing one’s brain fog, and can contribute to an increase in concentration and reduction of inflammation, which in turn can help with motivation and healthy lifestyle habits.
Fad Diets and “Healthy” Food Sensitivities
Diets are not a “one size fits all”, and even some of the “healthiest” diets may still be contributing to feelings of discomfort, if you or your patients are unsure about what foods they are sensitive to. Instead of calorie-limiting diets and general rules (like the popular fad diets in society and social media), food sensitivity testing creates a unique opportunity to create a tailored diet, based on individual immune responses. It identifies specific foods which should be avoided and allows the individual to focus on foods that are harmless to them.
A common misconception we also often see when it comes to diets is the general advice to just “eat healthy”. However, healthy foods can also be triggering food intolerances. Healthy to some may not mean healthy for others. Food sensitivities can range from lemons to whey to all citrons. These sensitivities may lead to bloating or feelings of weight gain. Someone may think almonds are a healthy snack, and a kale salad is a great lunch, but if these foods are causing significant bloating and other symptoms, they may be negatively impacting the quality of life of that individual!
What are some resources we can provide? How can Alletess help you and your patients?
If you are a doctor, start ordering food sensitivity testing for both you and your patients. Once you have your patients results back, and have interpreted the results with them, an elimination diet can be discussed (described below). At Alletess, our onsite dietitians create a customized wellness plan that is specific to individual results.
The wellness plan is an eating program based on the elimination of reactive foods. Any food on the test result that scored Class 1, 2, or 3 for IgG (sensitivity) has been eliminated from the Wellness Plan. Its main purpose is to give an individual’s immune system time to rest and prevent the development of new food sensitivities.
Below are recommendations that our dietitians suggest, but doctors may always tell their patients their own guidelines.
We recommend avoiding these reactive foods for at least 8-12 weeks and follow the rotation part of the Wellness Plan. A patient may not feel relief from their symptoms initially. In fact, they may crave some of the foods they have removed from their diet. The purpose of the elimination and rotation plan is to eliminate foods that patients have become sensitive to and rotate other nutritious foods into their diet. The main principle of the Wellness Plan is not to consume the same foods on consecutive days.
After an elimination diet, this is when patients may start reintroducing foods they have just eliminated. This is because they have given their immune system a needed break, and they are ready to start reintroducing foods. Some guidelines that your patients may find useful:
- Begin with Class 1 foods to start the re-introduction phase (Class 1 foods have the least amount of immune reactivity)
- Try one culprit food every four days to see if you can tolerate it
- On the first day of reintroducing a food, consume 2-3 servings of that food in its purest form
- Please keep a food diary and make notes of any symptoms, which may take up to 72 hours to develop
- Once all Class 1 sensitive foods are re-introduced move on to re-introducing Class 2 foods and finally Class 3’s
If there is a reaction, or if any symptoms that have resolved during the elimination phase re-occur, remove the food from your diet again, as this may indicate that you are still not tolerating it. Foods you are able to tolerate may be added back into your diet on a rotation basis.
Now, let’s take a look at two case studies.
Patient 1: Alice
Alice was a patient who ate a healthy diet but suddenly started experiencing leaky gut symptoms including headaches, bloating, nausea, fatigue, and food sensitivities. Leaky gut occurs when there are issues with the intestinal lining and bacteria and toxins can enter the tissue and cause inflammation. Her doctor suggested food sensitivity testing to see if there are any foods triggering her symptoms. She was found to be highly sensitive to foods such as lobster, gluten, whey, casein, yogurt, egg whites, and cow’s milk. Although she doesn’t have Celiac’s disease, her sensitivity to gluten has been triggering symptoms such as painful abdominal cramps, diarrhea, bloating, and inflammation. Alice was put on an elimination diet starting with gluten and anything with cow’s milk. Initially, Alice did not feel any relief. At 5 weeks, she noticed her bloating was decreasing steadily and after 12 weeks she had complete relief from her symptoms, all due to the results from her food sensitivity test. Alice now had increased energy and no more uncomfortable symptoms, and was ready to continue with her health goals.
Stories such as Alice’s are quite common with food sensitivity testing and could be the next step for your own health journey!
Patient 2: Max
Similar to Alice, Max started experiencing leaky gut symptoms and his doctor suggested food sensitivity testing to identify sources making the condition worse. While Max had a major sensitivity to peanuts, his results had several low level sensitivities to foods one would consider healthy, such as carrots, kelp, and grapefruit. He was more than a little surprised as he thought all healthy foods would help him lose weight and have more energy. Upon receiving his results, he began avoiding these healthy foods using his elimination plan and replacing them with green beans, cabbage, and grapes since he did not have sensitivities to those foods. Not only did his leaky gut symptoms decrease dramatically, but he also felt the bloating decrease and noticed his weight loss results. Max learned that while eating healthy is important, it is also important to learn about your own body and what can trigger inflammation counteracting your health goals.
Food sensitivity testing helped Max perform better, lose weight more efficiently, and significantly decreased his feelings of uncomfort due to bloating and inflammation.
As a provider, it is important to get to the root cause of your patient’s symptoms. Food sensitivity testing can provide your patients with lab results that when followed by an elimination diet, can provide them with great relief from ongoing symptoms. This new year, help your patients with their wellness goals by ordering them a food sensitivity test.