Food Sensitivity Tests: How Reliable Is The MRT?
Hi, everyone. Welcome back.
Food sensitivities are quite common and they seem to be on the rise. They can be difficult to pinpoint due to the many symptoms that are associated with them. Fortunately, there are testing options that can help you determine whether there are foods that you are sensitive to that may be causing some of your symptoms.
There are many different symptoms that people can experience due to food sensitivities, things like migraines, sinus problems, GI discomfort, joint pain, and skin problems. Just to name a few.
In today's topic, we are going to discuss the different options available for food sensitivity testing and how they are different.
I'm Katie Bailey. I'm a gut health dietitian at Oswald Digestive Clinic, where we help individuals improve and resolve their bothersome gut issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and more.
If this sounds like you or someone you know, you can schedule an appointment with our clinic.
You can download our free guide Five Ways to Improve Gut Health, if you'd like to get started right away.
Okay. Let's jump into today's topic.
Food Sensitivity Testing: What Are The Differences?
IgG Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay Test
The first test I want to look at is the IgG enzyme-linked Immunosorbent assay test. This test measures our IgG antibodies not to be confused with our IgE antibodies, which are used to determine our actual allergies.
IgG testing is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to identify food sensitivities. Even though this is the easier route, it is often discouraged because there really isn't enough research to support it.
Some research is showing that a higher IgG or a specific food may actually mean that your immune system is starting to tolerate it rather than you have a sensitivity to it.
I'm going to use a diagram now to explain to you why IgG may not be the best option to help you determine your food sensitivities.
Looking at this diagram, you can see that there are mechanisms listed in the first box that our bodies have that trigger the cells, which you can see in the second box, to release mediators in the third box that cause our symptoms.
You can see that IgG is only one of the mechanisms, and therefore, when just testing this, we are missing a lot that could be causing our symptoms.
ALCAT Food Sensitivity Test
The second test I want to talk about is the ALCAT food sensitivity test. Now, this is an indirect method for measuring mediator release.
Remember, those mediators are those items that were found in that third box that were just before the symptoms, so this test is for a lot of different mediators, which is why we see people getting better using this test over just IgG testing.
Unfortunately, this test has a 25 to 30% rate of false positives or negatives.
Mediator Release Testing (MRT)
The third test I want to talk to you about is mediator release testing or MRT. This is also an indirect method for measuring mediator release that's similar to the ALCAT, but MRT is a newer technology, so it's more accurate than the ALCAT.
This test, on the other hand, has about a 95% sensitivity rate, a 92% specificity rate, and a greater than 90% reliability. Although there are not a lot of research studies on mediator release testing due to it being a small company funding for research is a challenge. There are a lot of great testimonials on the success of MRT testing.
Applied kinesiology: Muscle Testing
The next option I want to talk about is Applied kinesiology, which is also called muscle testing, and this just uses the body's energy system.
How muscle testing works is the individual will lie down and the practitioner will place a vial that has a specific antigen in it over the abdomen.
The individual lifts up their arm and the practitioner tries to push it back down. The idea here is that if you do not tolerate a specific food or you're sensitive to it, that will make your muscles weaker so the practitioner will be able to push your arm down a lot easier.
Now, some individuals have said that this has worked for them, but unfortunately, the research is not very promising.
One study used the same food twice and the same result only happened 33% of the time.
Another study showed that when a poison was used, only 52% of the time was the poison actually picked up as a poison.
Coca Pulse Test
The last test I want to mention is called the Coca pulse test, which is when you consume a specific food and then your pulse is checked right after to see if there have been any changes. The idea here is that if your pulse changes, then you have a sensitivity to that food.
The problem with this is that we know that food sensitivities can have a delayed reaction for up to three days, so you may not even see an immediate reaction after consuming that food.
MRT Food Sensitivity Test: Is It Reliable?
Okay, now that I've listed all the options, I want to spend a little extra time explaining the specifics of MRT testing.
MRT (Mediator Release Test) food sensitivity testing is a way to quantify diet-induced inflammation. They take 170 different vials and place an antigen in each one along with your white blood cells. This measurement is based on the change in the volume of the cells, so if a cell gets smaller, that would mean that there is more mediator being released.
Then they quantify that using bars. The report that I'm going to show you, is an example of what the MRT report looks like. You can see the green indicates the antigen is non-reactive or there's little mediator release.
Yellow is moderately reactive and red is reactive, meaning there's higher mediator release.
So then what we would do with these results is take all the really low-reactive foods and make a list of about 25 to 30 foods that people eat for about 10 days or until they have three days of no symptoms or at least significant improvement in their symptoms.
Then we start to add foods to the original 25 to 30 foods to determine which foods are causing problems for people.
Okay, so that's it for the specifics of MRT testing.
So to review, there are many different options for food sensitivity testing, some more science-based than others. If you've tried a lot of different things already with little success, mediator release testing could be a great option for you, and we can certainly help you with that.
That being said, if you don't want to spend the money on food testing to start, you could always just start with a food-elimination diet.
If you choose this option, I highly recommend you work with a dietitian or a nutritionist so they can help you come up with an individualized plan for you.
If you're interested in working with our clinic, click the link below. Thanks and have a great day.
If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.
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