Before reviewing this post, I highly recommend you read:
- What are Your Food Sensitivity Test Options
- What to do AFTER Food Sensitivity Testing
- Why I Don’t Recommend Elimination Diets
- What is Inflammation?
This post will build on the information I shared in those posts. It’s funny, for as much as I’ve written about food sensitivity testing it recently came to my attention that I’ve written very little about who should consider getting tested. My goal is to share a different health condition every month and discuss whether or not food sensitivity testing is a good option. Heads up, not every condition benefits from it, and we have very little research. There are some conditions I recommend against it, even though many practitioners advocate for it. Feel free to leave comments on this series with your questions, if you are thinking it someone else probably is too!
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
What is IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrom? It is classified three ways:
- Diarrhea Predominant (D- Type)
- Constipation-Predominant (C- Type)
- Cyclic (alternating diarrhea and constipation)
Sympt0ms can include:
- going to the bathroom more than three times per day or less than three times per week
- abnormal stool (loose/watery or lumpy/hard)
- straining, urgency, or feeling of incomplete elimination
- passage of mucus
- abdominal distention
We know that those who suffer from IBS have every area of their life affected. Although it is often assumed their symptoms will normalize I have worked with clients, who have suffered with them for more than 20 years. It is common for patients to develop depression, anxiety, exaggerated stress reactions, and difficulties coping. Often this stress can further exacerbate the symptoms they are having.
Whats Going On?
As I already said, stress is a known trigger for IBS symptoms. Most IBS patients also know that certain foods trigger their symptoms, but they have a tough time determining the specific foods. They end up trying types of elimination diets which only kind of work and end up being even more stressful. At that point, is it the chicken or the egg? Is it the stress or an overactive immune response/inflammation? Likely it’s interaction with both. Over, 80% of the immune system is located in the GI tract. It’s the number one defense against pathogens. It’s almost like it’s outside of the body, considering how many outside components it’s exposed to on a daily basis.
The current theory is that the body has lost “oral tolerance” and the immune system is experiencing an exaggerated response to normally benign foods. Why this happens, we aren’t sure. Regardless the body produces inflammatory cell mediators such as: histamines, prostaglandins, leukotrienes, cytokines and others. They damage tissue causing a lack of intestinal permeability (Leaky Gut) and sometimes “global symptoms.” Global symptoms commonly associated with IBS include migraines or headaches and tiredness. If you can identify these triggers and remove them then you can give the immune system time to heal the gut. Similar to if you have a muscular injury, stop using it or aggravating it, so it’s more likely to recover right? Same deal. Once it heals, you can often go back to eating many of the foods that were once a trigger (but not all of them.)
What Does The Research Say?
We have a ton of research to now support the once discarded theory of Leaky Gut (this is a great article). We have even identified new markers that help us determine the degree of intestinal permeability. Beyond that, it gets a little murkier as far as sound evidence goes. A small study found that those patients with IBS-D have higher c-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation than those IBS-C. Another study found higher neutrophil counts in patients with IBS compared to healthy controls. Beyond that, we don’t have much research to go on, which is disappointing at the very least. However, these markers of inflammation are consistent with what we see in MRT/LEAP testing, which is cell mediators are part of the inflammation response. Stop them from being produced and you can stop the symtpoms.
IBS & Food Sensitivity Testing?
I find that food sensitivity testing, particularly MRT is very helpful for identifying food and chemical triggers. Typically I recommend a patient with IBS get a food sensitivity test under the following conditions:
- They are IBS-D or cyclical. The research doesn’t support IBS-C as it hasn’t been shown to have an inflammatory component. These clients I’ll work with to see if there is something else going on? SIBO or thyroid concerns at the top of my list.
- They have a relatively clean diet. If you are eating fast food for every meal, we need to work on that first. Your symptoms may resolve by cleaning up your diet.
- You’ve had symptoms for greater than six months.
- You’ve had a colonoscopy, and the results came back negative.
- You’ve tried other methods with little to no relief such as probiotics and prebiotics.
- You wish to get off medication that you are currently using to control symptoms.
- You have other common symptoms including a headache and fatigue.
- You felt some relief trying specific diets but was unable to get full relief or stick to the plan because it was too restrictive. (This signals to me that you have food sensitivities, we just didn’t identify them all clearly in that diet.)
- You’ve tried other ways to fight inflammation without full relief.
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again though. It isn’t just getting a food sensitivity test that will be the magic cure. You must follow the appropriate protocol and work with a qualified professional after your food sensitivity test if you genuinely want to resolve your symptoms. As an RD I understand the limitations of the test, but I use it as a tool to give us a better starting ground. We then work from there to bring down your symptoms, promote healing, and get a better understanding of your triggers. I don’t claim 100% remission, but you can get close and regain a great deal of quality of life.
I take all my clients through the consultation process to make sure they are 100% a good candidate for the test. You can schedule your consult here. The fee is $25 dollars which will be applied to the test package should we decide you are a good candidate and will benefit from it.