During quarantine, I’ve been working my way through another nutrition certification through Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN). A big part of the program is being able to incorporate lab testing with clients to help identify hidden stressors and look for healing opportunities, which I am so excited to be able to do!
One of the main tests you can do with clients is the Mediator Release Test, or MRT, which is a food sensitivity test that tests 170 different foods and food chemicals. No test is 100% foolproof, but in terms of accuracy and specificity, the MRT is basically the gold standard.
Earlier this month, I was able to access a test for myself through FDN.
Why I Did the MRT
Since I’m eating many of the same foods over and over, mostly grass-fed beef, pastured pork, pastured chicken, wild-caught salmon, pastured bacon, turkey, organ meats in the form of capsules, plus a little black tea, decaf coffee, and 100% chocolate to slow oxalate dumping, I was really curious to see if carnivore would cause me to become sensitive to any those foods.
It had been 5 and 7 years since my last two food sensitivity tests, so I knew it was time to re-test, since food sensitivities change over time.
I was also curious to see if there was any change in foods that had been “highly reactive” for me before, especially dairy or eggs, since I had completely removed them for my diet for 4 months.
Lastly, I wanted to know which plant foods were least reactive (i.e. most safe) for me should I ever decide to occasionally have some non-carnivore foods.
How the MRT Works
Unlike finger-stick IgG tests, with the MRT, you don’t have to have been eating a certain food for it to show up as a sensitivity. With IgG tests, you’re essentially measuring the “soldiers” your body has created to fight that specific food. If it hasn’t been a regular part of your diet, you could be sensitive to something but it won’t show up on your test.
Because of this, I knew the MRT would be a better option for me: having been on a carnivore diet, I’m already eliminating most foods anyway, and if the test isn’t accurate, there’d be no point in doing it.
The Mediator Release Test comes in a little kit with four vials, a shipping bag, and instructions; you get the blood drawn and then they mail it off to the lab.
The test measures the volumetric change in your blood when presented with a certain food as a way of seeing how much “ammunition” your white blood cells sent out to fight a perceived “bad guy”.
If there’s a lot of change, it means the white blood cells released a bunch of their “ammunition” and it’s considered a strong reaction, and if there’s a moderate change, it indicates a moderate reaction to that food. If little to no change, it’s consider low or no reaction.
What to Do After Your Food Sensitivity Test
It’s recommended that you completely remove the foods that are “red” or “yellow” (high or moderate reactivity) for 90 days. Even a little can re-engage and anger the immune system again!
Because of the ways our bodies work, the number and severity of reactive foods will change all the time, so it’s a good idea to test regularly. In fact, I’m considering doing a food sensitivity test for myself yearly as part of an annual self-checkup, possibly moving to bi-annual or even every 90 days as I can afford it.
A caveat I learned in my training is that if you’ve tested sensitive for something before but it doesn’t show on a recent test, you should still proceed with caution.
As you’ll see in a bit, this is part of why I’m not going to reintroduce some foods I’m seemingly no longer sensitive to.
- Cane sugar
- Cottage cheese
- Red #3
- Sweet potato
My Observations & Plans Going Forward
- It’s really fascinating to observe this test and correlate with my own experience. Ibuprofen has always given me gastrointestinal pain, cheddar cheese gives me a screaming headache, and I’ve suspected that oats might be cross-reactive with gluten for me.
- Since cane sugar is highly reactive, I’m going to have to be extra careful with bacon, sausages, or other products that might occasionally contain sugar. Applegate has a no-sugar bacon, so I guess that’s going to be my best friend now.
- Since I am doing some spices and herbs, I’ll obviously have to be careful to read ingredients on spice mixes for basil or tomato.
- I was really excited to see that dairy (except for cottage cheese and cheddar cheese), eggs, and coffee were no longer on the list like they were in past food tests! But, while I joked on social media that “food sensitivity test just came back and seems eggs and dairy are okay now, so excuse me while I go lie in a bathtub full of scrambled eggs cooked in butter and sip heavy cream out of a martini glass”, the reality is that I’m not going to reintroduce eggs or dairy for a few more months. My body still has some healing to do, and I don’t want to throw in any potentially inflammatory foods while I’m still in that process. I also can NEVER moderate dairy, so that may be something I have to leave out for a long time, or possibly indefinitely.
My plan now is to completely remove these foods for at least 90 days, and see if that helps improve some issues that are still resolving. I’ll report back!