Food is medicine; LEAP testing and nutritional sensitivities

Organic food recipe | Photo courtesy of St. George Health and Wellness

FEATURE – As a certified Lifestyle Eating and Performance, or LEAP, therapist, I am trained to identify food and food chemical hypersensitivities.  The LEAP program is a diet for those suffering from delayed food and food chemical sensitivities. These sensitivities can result in an immune system reaction with the release of mediators which cause pain and inflammation in the body. The immune system has a first line of defense in which it identifies “self” and “non-self.” This is beneficial for protecting us from unwanted bacteria and viruses. However, if the immune system decides that a food or chemical is dangerous and should be destroyed, the result is the release of mediators, which cause inflammation and pain. This is how food sensitivities develop.

I truly believe that food is medicine. Nowhere is that more evident than with LEAP food sensitivity testing. Several places in town emphasize the need to use food as medicine. I went to check out Dixie Nutrition on St. George Boulevard to understand more about the assistance they can offer those dealing with food sensitivities.

“One of the most common customers we help are those dealing with food sensitivities.” Branch Manager Greg Gillespie said. “It is more common than people realize.”

Many chronic conditions can be made worse by food sensitivities, including irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, heartburn, fibromyalgia, fatigue, depression, anxiety, mood swings, muscle and joint pain, sinusitis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, eczema, psoriasis, weight imbalances, thyroid disorders and infertility issues.

Everyone can benefit from avoiding their reactive foods.  However, finding these foods can be confusing and overwhelming. Often, food sensitivities are delayed, meaning symptoms may occur up to three or four days after eating the food. To compound the issue, food triggers and their symptoms are different for everyone.

“There are many families that feel the stress of figuring out what to do,” Gillespie said. “I mean, we eat every day. This is on their mind daily.”

I use the Mediator Release Test to find those trigger foods for my clients. MRT is a functional live cell analysis that identifies foods and chemicals which provoke the release of mediators that cause pain and inflammation. A blinded peer reviewed scientific study showed MRT to have the highest level of accuracy of any food sensitivity blood test; 94.5 percent sensitivity and 91.8 percent specificity. The MRT test takes your blood and checks your immune system response (or non-response) to 150 foods and chemicals. The results of the MRT test measures the degree of inflammation therefore classifying foods as reactive or non-reactive.

It is important to find a place that offers foods and supplements that are tailored for food sensitivities. There are a number of places in town that offer products that will work with a food sensitivity diet. It is important to find a place that offers quality products and resources. Obviously, my clients need businesses they can trust in order to stock their kitchen with allergen free foods and recommended supplements. I spent some time at Dixie Nutrition’s St. George Boulevard location and was particularly impressed with their variety of reasonably priced but good quality supplements and their “gluten free” aisle. In addition, they have several aisles dedicated to various dietary needs (including sugar free, organic, low-fat and low-salt). Clearly they understand my client population and their need to avoid cross-contamination.

LEAP testing is the most rewarding work I do. This program gives people their life back. It’s amazing what can be treated with “just food.”

For more information about LEAP testing, visit the WholeFitStGeorge website or call 435-319-0917.

Emily Fonnesbeck
Emily Fonnesbeck

Written by Emily Fonnesbeck for St. George Health and Wellness magazine and St. George News.

Fonnesbeck is a registered dietitian and received her degree at Brigham Young University.  She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and belongs to the practice groups of Integrated/Functional Nutrition, Weight Management and Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition.  She has a certificate in Adult Weight Management and is a certified LEAP therapist.  As a member of the research team at Chrysalis Clinical Research, she also counsels diabetic patients. Formerly, she worked at The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge in Ivins where she taught lectures, led private consultations, managed meal plans and traveled to speak for corporate wellness programs.  She had the pleasure of assisting many resort guests and former Biggest Loser contestants in finding what nutritional meal plan works for them.

Ed. Note: This article was first published in the January-February 2013 issue of St. George Health and Wellness magazine.

St. George Health and Wellness

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Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc. and St. George Health and Wellness magazine, 2013, all rights reserved.

Organic food recipe | Photo courtesy of St. George Health and Wellness
Organic food recipe | Photo courtesy of St. George Health and Wellness

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