Food Sensitivity Testing FAQ

Ideal for: IBS, acne, migraines, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, psoriasis, dermatitis, inflammatory bowel, celiac, eosinophilic esophagitis, overweight/obesity, autoimmune disease, diabetes, allergies, asthma


There are many different types of reactions that can trigger food sensitivities.  The symptoms we experience are caused by mechanisms in response to a loss of oral tolerance to food.  These mechanisms are molecules like histamine, leukotrienes,cytokines, and prostaglandins.  


The mainstream approach in alternative medicine is to measure food sensitivities with an IgG test but this is only one type of immune reaction.

  • Research has shown it is not an accurate test.  

  • IgG is only one mechanism of an immune response -- and it may or may not release the mediators that cause symptoms.  

  • There may also be non-immune responses such as a histamine intolerance or lectin damage to the intestinal cells. 

  • Intestinal allergies (IgE) which will not get picked up on any test – even an IgE allergy test.


Mediator Release Testing (MRT) is the primary food sensitivity test that should be used in the prescence of any inflammatory condition or syndrome.  Immune reactions can trigger symptoms such as dermatitis, acne, IBD, migraines, fibromyalgia, and IBS.   Oftetimes, food antigens are responsbile for this immune cascade, and we can measure the end products of mediation via a simple blood test.  

Test results are used as a road map for an individualized anti-inflammatory diet.  One person's anti-inflammatory food is another's problem food.  Most patients see improvement in symptoms in just a few days. Once symptoms are greatly improved, foods are reintroduced in a specific order.  I will show you exactly how and when to reintroduce food items.  Click here for a description of how the MRT testing works.


Q. Is MRT accurate

A blinded peer reviewed scientific study showed MRT to have the highest level of accuracy of any food sensitivity blood test. (94.5% sensitivity and 91.8% specificity).


Q. What is the difference between MRT and other tests for food sensitivities?

There are several tests available by many companies to test for food sensitivities.  They are IgG (ELISA or RAST), ALCAT, and LRA by Elisa-Act.   Without understanding some basics, it is impossible to understand how one is superior to the others and how they compare.


The Basics:

Food sensitivities make a person feel sick because there is a release of chemicals called mediators (such as histamines, prostaglandins, cytokines etc) from white blood cells. The release of mediators is typically triggered by an immune mechanisms (IgA, IgG, IgM, Complement).  The release of the mediators is the cause of these symptoms, not the immune mechanisms.  Food sensitivity is a very complex reaction.  


The thing that makes food sensitivities complicated is that there are various ways the immune system can respond to hypersensitivity.  Because there are different ways the immune system can respond, there are different approaches researchers have tried to identify reactive foods and chemicals.


ELISA IgG: These test quantifies how much IgG you are producing to a specific food, with the assumption that high levels of IgG are only a bad thing.  There is a specific type of immune reaction called Type 3 hypersensitivity that can involve IgG or another antibody called IgM.  When IgG is involved in triggering mediator release, this testing will be very helpful.   Unfortunately there are limitations of IgG testing:

  1. High levels of IgG can be bad (causing an immune response and a release of mediators thereby symptoms).  Or high levels of IgG can be protective against a more serious IgE allergy.  So just because you have high IgG levels may not mean that the food is a problem.

  2. IgG only plays a minor role in IBS, migraine, fibromyalgia.  Instead research shows that Type 4 hypersensitivity is the primary type of reaction.   Type 4 hypersensitivity doesn’t involve IgG or any other antibodies.

  3. IgG testing cannot identify reactions to chemicals like food additives.  It is clearly documented that food chemicals play a very important role in provoking symptoms in many conditions.  If you cannot identify these reactions, you could very well be missing very important information that can impact health.


How MRT Compares to IgG:  There are a number of advantages of MRT over any form of IgG testing.  MRT is an endpoint test, meaning that all the immune based adverse reactions that end up causing a mediator release in the blood will be identified. MRT does this without caring about the mechanism (such as IgG).  MRT is able to take into account the actions of all mechanisms, whether they are antibodies or other, because all of them ultimately cause white blood cells to release mediators.  MRT is able to account for a much wider array of reactions than the relatively simple IgG testing.  In addition, MRT is able to identify reactions to chemicals.   Overall MRT is more accurate an useful clinically.


The ALCAT Test: The ALCAT test was invented and patented by the same scientist who invented and patented MRT, Dr Mark Pasula.  The two technologies are similar, yet separately patented, which means there is a unique difference.  The main difference between the two tests is in terms of accuracy and reliability.  Side by side studies have shown MRT to be more accurate (higher sensitivity and specificity) and to have higher split sample reproducibility than ALCAT.


Q. How does MRT work?

MRT is an indirect method of accurately measuring mediator release.  MRT does this by measuring changes in the liquids to solids ratio of your blood after your blood has been exposed and incubated with the test substance.  It accounts for all reactions by your immune cells.  This is done as an indicator that your immune cells have released chemical mediators such as histamines, cytokines and others.  Significant reactions are broken into either Reactive (Red), Moderately Reactive (yellow) or insignificant reactions (Green).    All measurements are made using the most accurate method of measurement (Ribbon technology) currently available.


Q. How do we interpret the results?

We use a Lifestyle Eating And Performance (LEAP) dietary program based on your MRT results.  Together we will develop a diet where you only eat lowest reactive foods for 10 days or so.  We expect a significant reduction in symptoms during this time.   Then we will add in slightly more reactive foods (but still low reactive) over the next 20 days.   Then the third phase if there is continued improvement in health we add in more foods. 


The end result is that you get to experience how food can effect your health.  You’ll gain a life-long tool of realizing that the digestive symptoms or sinus issues you are experiencing were from a food you recently ate.  From our nutritional consults you will learn how to identify foods by an elimination and then provocation challenge.