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How to Identify Food Sensitivities + Food Sources of Inflammation

How to determine food sensitivities
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Identifying food sensitivities is a key component of reducing systemic inflammation and is one of the most important things to address when reversing chronic symptoms and autoimmunity. Every meal  that we eat presents an opportunity to feed health and calm inflammation, which is amazing! BUT, figuring out which foods are calming or contributing to our inflammation levels can be a little elusive. 

If you’re following an elimination diet, chances are that you have already been able to narrow down and remove some of the “bigger trigger” foods that tend to cause an inflammatory response. It’s also possible that even after removing the bigger triggers, you suspect that there are still some foods that aren’t helping your healing.

Whether you have already started eliminating foods or not, at Rooted In Healing we help you figure out the best diet and feel good foods for your bio individual body and provide the clearest roadmap possible to get you feeling better. 

We want to share the steps that we use with our clients to help them identify which foods they may be causing an inflammatory reaction. 

Before we provide those steps, let’s define what exactly inflammation is.

Inflammation is your body’s natural, physiological defense response. It’s really great for short term responses to things like an injury, but not as helpful for long term, chronic responses. 

You can think of it like a light switch. We want to be able to turn the inflammatory response on and off pretty easily. i.e. we get a cut on our hand, inflammatory response goes on, help is sent to the wound site so it can heal, then the inflammatory response shuts off. 

We can start to see issues arise when the inflammatory response doesn’t shut off and becomes chronic. That type of inflammation puts your body and immune systems in an over active state, which can lead to your body attacking our own tissues and organs. It can also be one of the reasons you may be reacting poorly to tons of different foods, including the healthy ones.

Now let’s break down how food can be triggering your inflammation response. 

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Food allergies:

Allergies stem from an IgE (immunoglobulin E) response. IgE are antibodies that are produced by our immune system when allergic reactions occur. An allergic reaction to a food may include symptoms like rashes, hives, itching, swelling and in its most severe form, anaphylaxis or throat closure. These reactions are pretty immediate which makes it easy to pinpoint which foods may be causing the reaction. 

Food intolerances:


These differ from food allergies as they are not connected to an immune response, but occur when you are missing the necessary enzymes to break down certain foods. For example, if you have an intolerance to lactose, it is because you are either missing or deficient in  your lactase enzymes. Common symptoms here can be stomach upset, bloating, gas etc. Since these reactions are also pretty immediate, it can be easier to connect the dots on which food is causing them. While intolerances aren’t connected to an immune pathway, continuing to eat them without the necessary support can result in gut damage.

Food Sensitivities:


Like allergies, food sensitivities stem from an immune response. BUT (and it’s a big but), they can be the trickiest to pinpoint because reactions from food sensitivities can be both subtle and happen as long as 72 hours after consuming a food. Additionally, while allergies can be tied back to one starting point through the IgE pathway, sensitivities can happen through a variety of immuno pathways like IgG, IgA and IgM.

Food Sensitivity symptoms can look like:

  • Bloating
  • Acne
  • Runny Nose
  • Brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Itching
  • Stomach upset
  • IBS
  • Anxiety / depression / irritability 
  • Migraines

Here are a few ways you can identify which foods work for you and which ones may be triggering a reaction.

Food and Mood Journal:

Using a food and mood journal is a helpful tool to connect the dots between the foods you are consuming and your symptoms. Think of it more like a log or a diary vs a way to track what you are eating. Recording calories is far from the goal here. Its purpose is to build your awareness of what you’re eating, how you feel and what your poop looks like–no joke! Your poop is one of the most reliable indicators of inflammation. I encourage folks to log their meals, reactions and bowel movements for about 7 days.

Coca Pulse test:


Another at home measure you can use is something called the Coca Pulse test. This test walks you through how to measure your pulse rate to determine if that food is triggering a stress reaction. You can find more information about it here http://empoweredsustenance.com/food-sensitivities-test/

Elimination Diet + Food and Mood Journal


This is our favorite option and what we help you with inside our signature program, Mindful AIP. It’s a step by step elimination process that removes common foods that are most likely causing some inflammatory reactions. The key is to remove potentially inflammatory foods for approximately 30-60 days.  After your body has been able to get back to center, we reintroduce foods one by one to determine which ones cause reactions and which ones don’t. The AIP elimination diet was formulated specifically to support people with autoimmune disease in reducing symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes.

Our program gives you 1:1 appointments with a nutritionist to look at factors outside of food (including environmental triggers, emotional triggers, and gut imbalances), receive testing as needed, as well as a full year of community calls and unlimited chat support. 

It’s appropriate for those with a history of eating disorders or anyone who struggles with a messy mindset or black and white thinking around food. You can check out the program here.

Food Sensitivity Testing (MRT170)


Another option is to get a food sensitivity test. Not all tests are created equal though! Most tests you’ll find on the internet (cough, Everlywell) only test for 1 type of immuno / antibody response. Since food sensitivities can come from multiple pathways (IgG, IgA and IgM) this often leads to inaccurate or incomplete information. 

Our suggestion for food sensitivity testing is The MRT170, which tests for 170 foods and chemicals. MRT stands for mediator release test, which means instead of measuring the starting point of a reaction, the test tracks the endpoint for all  immuno / inflammatory pathways. This test will tell you if you are reactive to a specific food or chemical, as well as how reactive you are. This test runs around $330+ and can be ordered for you through our practice when you are working with one of our team members.

About Rooted in Healing:

We know what it’s like to live in a body that isn’t functioning the way you want it to. We’re here to help you get things back into balance so you can start focusing your energy on the important things in life. We specialize in autoimmune disease, detox & drainage, and gut health, and would love to support you in feeling like yourself again. Click here to view our services.

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ENNEAGRAM 2, NUTRITION NERD, MINDSET MECHANIC, AND YOUR #1 HEALTH CHEERLEADER

Hi, I'm Whitney. Your Holistic Nutritionist and Autoimmune BFF

Owner of Rooted in Healing Nutrition Therapy, autoimmune expert, and steward of your wellbeing. Whitney's approach is both scientifically informed and emotionally supportive because she knows healing is multifaceted and you deserve a care team who can support you through the many layers of healing.

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