In the last blog post, we did an Intro to gut health. We will continue to break this down in this month’s posts, starting with the first step in repairing the gut: removing sources of imbalance or inflammation. A large part of this step is removing food sensitivities.
A food sensitivity is different from a true food allergy that can be acute or life-threatening.
A food sensitivity can cause activation of the immune system in a slower, more chronic way that can lead to inflammation and long-term health issues. Some symptoms of food sensitivities could include fatigue, bloating, change in bowel movements, joint pains, brain fog, migraines or other headaches. Often times these sensitivities go undiagnosed, and patients are left wondering why they aren’t feeling their best.
There are several methods of diagnosing a food sensitivity. We often see patients coming to us who have had IgG food sensitivity testing. This can be somewhat helpful, but it often only shows reactions to foods that people have been eating in the last 2-3 weeks.
At Root, Kelsey Stricklen, MS, RD, CLT is able to order the mediator release testing which is a more comprehensive food sensitivity test – look for a future blog explaining this one in more detail or click here: What is MRT?
In functional medicine, we often find the gold standard test for how a person feels on and off certain foods is an Elimination diet, followed by a careful food re-introduction period.
Benefits of an Elimination diet include identification of food triggers, reducing inflammation, supporting a healthy Microbiome, adding phytonutrients to help heal the gut, and reducing the toxic burden of processed foods with artificial colors, flavors, additives, and preservatives.
At Root, we have the tools and support to help you succeed
During the 3 week period of eliminating foods, it is important to make sure the diet is attainable, enjoyable, and nutrient-dense. After the initial period of eliminating foods, many chronic symptoms can improve or disappear. Removing foods and toxins that were creating inflammation and stress on the immune system gives the gut and body an opportunity to heal.
The goal is to decrease the burden on the immune system while ensuring adequate nutrition.
After completing the three weeks, patients will undergo a food reintroduction process. Reintroduction involves adding back one food at a time and observing whether that food is associated with negative symptoms. Once the gut is healed, many foods that initially caused sensitivities may be reintroduced into a meal plan without symptoms.
The long-term goal is to help our patients personalize a diet that will lead to lower inflammation and to actually increase the diversity of foods in the diet.