Marissa Mekelburg Functional Medicine Dietitian
Food Inflammation Test: Key to unlocking your weight loss?
Do you ever feel like no matter what you do, you can't seem to lose weight? You may be surprised to learn that the root of your stubborn weight might not simply be the balance of what you're eating vs. your activity level, but rather how your body is reacting to certain foods. There may be foods that you’re eating that are causing your immune system to go haywire.
Enter food inflammation tests.
Food sensitivities can play a role in weight gain and inflammation, and if that is the case for you, it is important to get tested for them if you want to achieve your overall health goals. In this blog post, we'll discuss the link between food sensitivities and inflammation, and we'll explore how a food inflammation test can help you identify which foods are causing problems for your body.
First of all: what is inflammation, really?
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What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a normal and natural process in our body. In short, it's the body's natural response to injury or infection (1). For example, when you get a paper cut (ouch!) inflammation is what causes the redness and swelling around the wound.
This swelling response happens because our bodies hold more water around the injured area creating space for healing white blood cells to easily get to the area. This is kind of like pulling over to the shoulder of the road so that an ambulance can get by more quickly. This kind of inflammation goes away once your finger is healed and is called “acute” inflammation.
In some cases, however, inflammation can last for long periods of time, like months or even years. This is what we call chronic inflammation.
We can’t really tell just by looking at someone that they have chronic inflammation because it is happening on the inside of their body, such as in their joints or along the digestive tract.
This long-term inflammation is not so normal or natural and is the kind that we need to worry about. Why? Because chronic inflammation can lead to various health problems ranging from (2):
● Type 2 diabetes
● Alzheimer's disease
● Crohn's disease
● Increased risk of stroke
● Cardiovascular disease
● Insulin resistance
● And more!
Many things can cause inflammation, including stress, environmental toxins, and even obesity (talk about a vicious cycle). Chronic inflammation can also be a reaction to foods that we eat. If we have an overreaction to a food, that can be an allergy or a sensitivity.
In this post, we are talking about food sensitivities.
What is a food sensitivity?
A food sensitivity is your body having an over-reaction to a food that is different from an allergy. An allergic reaction is usually quick and can be life-threatening.
A food sensitivity is usually a slower response, but it can still make you feel like, ahem, garbage. Food sensitivities are also harder to pinpoint than allergies because they can take up to 72 hours to show symptoms. If you have a hard time remembering what you ate yesterday, or heavens, two days ago, you’re not alone.
What’s tricky is that even healthy, anti-inflammatory foods can be the culprit (3). I’ve had clients with sensitivities to salmon, blueberries, and almonds – all “healthy” foods. That’s why testing is so important; generic anti-inflammatory food lists are not tailored to your unique needs.
If you’d like to dive a little deeper into the three ways our body can have a negative reaction to foods, check out this post: Understanding food allergy, sensitivity & intolerance.
Food sensitivity symptoms
So how do you know if you have a food sensitivity? Symptoms vary from one person to the next, but they might include:
● stuffy nose
● joint pain
● digestive issues
● brain fog
● weight gain or difficulty losing weight
Food sensitivities can cause inflammation and that is one reason they might be linked to weight gain. When we are inflamed, our bodies hold on to water and that can show up as a few extra pounds on the scale.
In my practice, I have worked with many clients who are struggling with joint pain. As many of them are overweight, they assume that it is only their body size that is contributing to the joint pain.
In my experience, the extra weight isn’t helping, but it also isn’t the whole explanation of why they’re having painful, stiff joints. Inflammation, often caused by food sensitivities, is a factor as well. Good news: with the right food sensitivity test, you can find out for sure if you have issues with any foods.
So how do you know if you have a food sensitivity, or something else? You may want to consider a food sensitivity test.
Are food sensitivities causing my weight gain?
Food sensitivities can cause inflammation. When our bodies are inflamed, they hold on to water. Inflammation can cause weight gain. If you're struggling with your weight and think food sensitivities might be to blame, there are a few things you can do.
Less directly, if you’re struggling with food sensitivities, you might not be feeling your best. If you’re struggling with headaches, joint pain and brain fog, you’re not going to feel as motivated and able to cook the nutrition meals that you want to eat. Less healthy meals can further the spiral to inflammation and weight gain.
Not all weight is fat tissue
But first, is all weight adipose (aka fat) tissue?
We tend to think of any change on the scale as a gain or loss of fat tissue. But the truth is, we are far more complicated than that.
Our weight includes our hydration, our muscle tissue, our skeleton, and yes, our fat tissue. Our weight is also influenced by whether we are inflamed or not. When we are inflamed, our bodies hold on to extra water.
While you might just be looking at the scale, there are so many other health issues to think about that can make that number go up or down. Chronic inflammation is a big factor, and ultimately, that's part of what taking a holistic approach is about. And getting a handle on the whole big picture is how I’m able to help my clients achieve success that lasts.
Where do I begin? By ruling other things out.
Rule out other possible issues, first.
You know the saying in medicine, “when you hear hooves, think horse, not zebra?”
In my practice, it is important to rule out other possible explanations for why my clients are not feeling their best.
No one wants to be held back by brain fog, poor sleep, achy joints, and stubborn weight! By finding the root causes, we get to make a plan for achieving our best health and wellness.
A diagnosis is easy to get wrong and unfortunately, being wrong is risky. For more info about that, please check out my post about IBS and why I have a No Self-diagnosis recommendation.
As we work together, my clients and I consider a few things. This includes:
● Current dietary habits
● Current physical activity
● Sleep patterns
● Hormone balance
● Thyroid health
● Leaky gut
● Current medications - is weight gain a side effect?
Leaky gut is often part of the picture, and so clients are wondering how long it takes to heal that. I wrote a whole blog post on that, right here: How Long Does It Take to Heal Leaky Gut?
And if you have leaky gut, your body is more likely to have food sensitivities.
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Next, consider food sensitivity testing
What is the best food sensitivity test? There are a few options; some are better than others.
Food sensitivity tests are somewhat trendy, and the right tests are helpful, but not everyone has food sensitivities. Plus, many factors work together to influence how you feel on a day-to-day basis, including what you eat. But if we ignore the rest of the factors, optimizing only what you eat will not achieve your best health.
The simplest way to explore how foods make you feel is to keep track of what you’re eating and how you’re feeling. After a week or two, you may be able to identify patterns between specific foods and changes in how you feel. The trouble is, that it can be difficult to identify those links between foods and symptoms because the symptoms can be delayed by a few days.
For a more precise and accurate approach, I work with my clients using a food sensitivity test called MRT, which stands for Mediator Release Testing.
What makes MRT testing different from other options for food sensitivity testing is what it is measuring. This test, measures how your body reacts to 140 different foods and is the only test that also measures the body's response to 30 food chemicals (both naturally occurring like solanine in nightshades and man made like food colorings).
Ready to delve into a bit of science?
Our immune systems are complicated. Your body is working hard to keep you safe from unwelcome invaders, injuries, and anything that might be considered “bad news bears”. Your immune system can track and send messages in a few different ways.
Some food sensitivity tests look at a protein messenger called IgG, which is kind of like putting a name tag on a particle. This antibody helps our body to label things, like, “Hello, my name is carrot, we’ve seen this before”. However, our body being able to identify something doesn’t automatically mean that we’re having a bad reaction to it.
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Some food sensitivity tests are just measuring IgG antibodies, which have not been well correlated to people having symptoms (4).
What makes MRT testing different is that it is measuring the inflammatory chemicals (mediators) that the body produces in response to a food that we are sensitive to. MRT looks at:
● And more!
Our body doesn't release these molecules just to slap a name tag on something; it means that we know what this thing is and we don’t like it.
MRT testing helps us to really understand what foods are making you feel crummy and which foods are safe. From there, we get to make a comprehensive plan that we are confident will help you to feel better.
A comprehensive approach
If you’ve felt like you've tried everything before and are still frustrated by your weight, fatigue, and joint pain, know that you’re not alone.
Nutrition can feel really confusing. And it doesn’t help when not-so-helpful friends, doctors, and nurses offer terrible advice like “just eat less and move more.”
Your health is far more complicated than that. That’s why my clients see better results. We use the best food sensitivity test available and formulate a plan to achieve your best wellness.
Food sensitivities, inflammation, leaky gut, and other factors all play a role.
Food sensitivities do not have to be permanent, but you have to be able to identify the root causes in order to calm down your immune system.
Key takeaways: Food sensitivity testing
So, while a person may just be looking at the scale, there are so many other implications for health issues that weight gain and chronic inflammation contribute to and ultimately, that's part of what taking a holistic approach is about - looking at all the aspects.
With the right food sensitivity test – The MRT test – you and I can identify not only the foods that are making you feel crummy but also the foods that will make you feel your best. We’ll also explore your lifestyle, stress levels, physical activity, and all of the other factors that are contributing to how you feel today. And then, you’ll finally have clarity – and a plan – that empowers you to finally feel great.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to get started with you. Your next step is to book a Discovery Session. We’ll chat, I’ll be able to answer your questions and we’ll get this show on the road.