How To: Test For Food Sensitivities Without Breaking The Bank

1469562999376So I am very excited about this post.  I anticipate this to be the first post in a series about crunchy alternatives to expensive doctor bills and pharmaceutical options.  First let me say that I am not a doctor.  While I may report from books written by doctors and even interview medical professionals, I am not diagnosing or treating anyone nor do I intend this information to diagnose or treat any of my readers.  It is for informational purposes only.  As you get to know me more, You will realize I am passionate about taking control of my own health and doing so as safe as possible while only spending what is necessary to achieve those goals. I depend on medical research and also medical professionals to guide me on this journey. As always, I recommend a Functional Medical Doctor to guide you on yours or to refer you to a specialist.  In the end, it is your choice how you handle your health and it is your consequences, also.  I do encourage an informed decision.

Having food sensitivities is costly enough with the special alternative foods, special diets, potential days off work and more, without adding in expensive doctor visits.  These bills climb even more if you choose a Functional Medicine Doctor that sometimes don’t take insurance and treat things with therapies not always covered by insurance as many of us prefer the functional model of medicine to the allopathic.  (For more information on Functional Medicine click here).

This week I am here to answer one major question:  If you cant afford  to see a doctor that uses these alternative treatments, don’t have insurance or your doctor doesn’t take insurance then what are your  most affordable choices if you suspect food intolerances?  First Let me speak to one advantage of spending the money on a Functional M.D. or even a D.O. (click here if you want to know what a D.O. is versus and M.D.).  The main advantage of spending the money is tax write offs.  If you see a Functional Medicine Doctor of some sort and that doctor either finds a food intolerance that would effect your food costs, medical spending or prescribes a special diet to treat the diagnosed condition you are eligible for a tax write-off to cover the additional costs of said treatment.  For example, as an officially diagnosed Celiac who is allergic to EVERY processed food and has been prescribed a special diet to treat a diagnosed condition, I am able to write off a significant portion of my grocery bill as a medical cost.  (Caution:  Please speak with a licensed and trusted accountant for advice in writing off anything on your taxes to make sure you meet the requirements, are following the laws and have the paperwork needed to do so.)  But some people still can’t go to these doctors even if its tax deductible.  So let’s talk about some alternatives to identify these food sensitivities.  We have a couple choices to identify food sensitivities as follows:  AIP or other elimination diets, Muscle Testing and Heart Rate Testing.

Many already know about AIP and elimination diets  but for those who don’t I will give a brief explanation.  By the way, there is much more to doing this right then I will put here but this is the general idea:  An elimination diet such as AIP (autoimmune paleo or autoimmune protocol) removes all highly allergenic foods from your diet for a period of time.  These foods would include processed sugar, eggs, nuts, grains, dairy, seeds, legumes and  nightshades.  If improvements are seen and/or not complete then you may choose to remove some secondary, less popular allergens such as molds, yeasts and fermented items, tapioca and fodmaps as a way to troubleshoot or “bio-hack” your own body (more on this technique at a  later date).  You then will systematically and carefully reintroduce foods one at a time to see if bringing back that food gives you trouble.  Like I said, there is much more to it and for complete details I recommend the book that explains it all here.

Another alternative is Muscle Response Testing, or MRT.   Because you didn’t come here to read a book, today we are only going to explain what it looks like, its applications in the world of food senstivities, its approximate costs and its limitations and accuracy.  I will also give some suggestions on how to incorporate it into your own journey.

Since MRT is something that I have only encountered in the past year, I went to Author, Applied Kinesiologist and Chiropractor Dr. Chris Harrison to get the dirty details about muscle testing.   Dr. Harrison has used Applied Kinesiology and Muscle Testing diagnostically for 40 years and has also taught many others, including medical doctors, how to use this technique to gauge what is going on the body and more. I asked him a couple questions to compare this method to the more familiar method of lab testing for food sensitivities.  He has demonstrated this technique on me in several capacities, for identifying misalignments in a chiropractic session or for identifying food sensitivities or for determining supplement compatibility and custom dosage recommendations for said supplements.  Muscle Testing, or MRT will look something like this:  The practitioner will test a muscle to see if it is strong.  For example, Dr. Harrison had me hold out my arm and tested to see if it was strong by having me resist while he tried to push it down.  He then placed a vial of a food’s “energy” .  and the result was either that the muscle was stronger, weaker or no change.  A stronger muscle indicates that the test item was “wanted by” or good for your body such as a food that contains a much needed .  The weaker muscle indicated that it was  incompatible with or undesirable by your body and no change meant that it was neither harmful or beneficial in any measurable amount.  (This takes experience to be able to conduct this test and pick up nuances so I suggest seeing a professional to demonstrate until you and your partner are efficient.  It does require a practitioner and patient and cannot be performed by yourself).  The same method is used to accomplish other findings such as supplement compatibility and dosage (asking the body HOW MUCH of a supplement it needs or wants can be determined by muscle testing) or even something arbitrary such as your name.  Dr. Harrison says that what “question” is being asked at the time is very important to know what they body is trying to tell you.  For more information on how muscle testing works I suggest reading Say Goodbye to Illness by Dr. Devi Nambudiprad.  For Instructions on how to learn this technique, I suggest Preventing Asthma and Allergy Attacks by Dr. Chris L. Harrison.

This test can be a very useful guide for one who is unsure of their sensitivities/allergies or is troubleshooting or even re-introducing.  You can use this as a guide to begin your elimination diet. But be warned that it is only a guide.  You could also use this to see if just cutting out the identified foods would do the trick to make you feel good again.  Or you can use this as a guide during your reintroduction phase.  It would be my recommendation to do the latter for safe reintroduction.  It is possible that while a food may not show up as unfavorable on a muscle test, it may still give you problems.  There are many reasons this can happen.  The above book by Dr. Nambudiprad mentions a couple of those reasons.

The cost of this type of test ranges from 30 dollars to 100 dollars depending on the practioner’s time and fees.  Compared to expensive lab tests that can be hundreds to thousands of dollars, I consider a 40 dollar fee (this is what Dr. Harrison charges at the time of this article) to be quite a bargain!

There are some drawbacks.  The test does have some boundaries and limitations.  It is not perfect as it measures something completely different than a lab test measures. According to Dr. Harrison, MRT or Muscle Response Testing measures activity in the body’s energy.  Before you produce antibodies there must be a change in energy somewhere that stimulates that production of antibodies and the antibodies themselves would also have their own energy. Dr. Nambudiprad explains in her above book that it has to do with polar charges that repulse each other the way a magnet will reject some other magnets.  That energy is being communicated to the muscle through the nerves and nervous system.   Dr. Harrison says it can be effected by “psychokinesis”  (“subjectivity” to you and me).  Basically, it can be skewed by our own negative energy or a desire for a specific outcome projected onto the muscle’s energy.  So it is important to clear your mind of expectations and to focus on WHAT you are trying to learn.  Dr. Harrison often says “this is a fact finding mission, not a contest.” Dr. Harrison also says that while this is a very useful tool in a practitioner’s work, it is “not the be all end all” of testing or diagnostics.  In fact, in his book Preventing Allergy And Asthma Attacks, Dr. Harrison recommends using both MRT and Heart Rate Testing together to determine an allergy.  More on this below.

If this is a new thing to you it will seem like something about which to be skeptical.  I assure you it is very real and if you were to experience it you would be convinced.  For those that are natural born skeptics, let me also say that my own Functional Medicine Doctor has recommended this as an alternative when I couldn’t afford lab tests for food sensitivities. Even my vet uses this for certain applications and I have started to use it at home as I became more confident practicing this technique.  Several clients of Dr. Harrison are doctors and scientists with PhD’s and the doctor uses muscle testing in every one of their chiropractic appointments and to determine the compatibility and dosage of supplements for these men and women.

As I mentioned before, MRT is a great tool to combine with Heart Rate Testing or HRT.   He explains that Heart Rate Testing can be used to identify food sensitivities also.  Like Muscle testing it measures something different from a lab test that measures antibodies and bio-markers.  The heart rate would increase in response to the presence of an undesirable (as determined by the body such as an allergen) by increasing the stress in response to its presence in the body.  It can do so even while it remains in the mouth.  This would result in an increase of heart rate and a change in blood pressure.  For many, this can be a very reliable test as in some cases the allergen produces a stress response reliably and consistently as one of the affected’s symptoms.  In some cases, the body can respond dramatically as in some Dysautonomia cases.  For most who will use this test, however, an increase of 10 percent is enough to consider the food to be incompatible with your body.  For more details on how to use or administer this test please contact Dr. Chris Harrison via his website to order your copy.  The entire book is full of great health information and was very helpful in my healing on my own crazy journey.

There are many other types of tests to detect allergies and for a complete list of options, including lab tests I suggest reading Dr. Nambudiprad’s list located in the same book mentioned above.

I hope this has been helpful for those that suspect a food sensitivity or are curious about options on how to reintroduce foods as safely as possible.  Wouldn’t it be nice to just avoid the unsuccessful reintroductions and avoid all the headaches, both metaphorically and literal?  I certainly do!  As always, to your health! And good luck on your own journey.  Thank you for joining me on My Crazy Journey as we figure all this out together.

Do You Need To Heal Your Gut? A Beginner’s Guide.

leaky gut how to heal beginners

Gut Health.  For those in the know, this is a subject that is very basic: a starting point, if you will.  But for those who need to heal their gut: This is the moment you encroach upon an epiphany. Do YOU need to heal your gut? How do you know? More importantly, how do you get started? If you have  “modern” health problems then healing your gut definitely cant hurt and may help.  First lets find out if YOU need to heal your gut by learning why someone would need to heal the gut.

Why do I need to heal my gut? First of all, you don’t need to have gut problems to have a leaky gut. Nor do you have to have some “mystery illness”.   The need to heal the gut is as old as civilization.  Hippocrates himself said that all health begins in the gut.  Many experts agree that modern farming practices, poor food choices and fast paced lifestyles (and more) have taken the everyday stomach problem to new heights.  Something called “Leaky Gut Syndrome” has gone way beyond what Hippocrates likely ever experienced and has brought on a slew of modern diseases in addition to ones that have been around for lifetimes.  Leaky Gut Syndrome, or LGS, has been linked to autism, ADHD, depression and anxiety,  autoimmune including Celiac and MS, eczema, psoriasis, and more.  I would also encourage you to heal your gut if you suffer from digestive disorders such as IBS, Crohn’s, Colitis or you are feeling bloated and fatigued for any reason.   For the sake of discussion, I’m going to focus on LGS as it pertains to autoimmune but the basic principles are the same although the symptoms and consequences vary from person to person or group to group.  Basically, if you have autoimmune: you have a leaky gut (unless you have healed it already).  If you have psoriasis, then you guessed it.. you have leaky gut… and so on.

How does leaky gut happen?  LGS happens a variety of ways and as a result of various factors.  Certain foods (particularly gluten and GMO foods), imbalances of bacteria and fungus mixed with stress create holes in the lining of the gut every time we eat certain foods.  For a healthy individual, the stomach heals itself in a matter of about 3 days, keeping digestive bits where they belong as they travel through the digestive tract.  They heal until they don’t heal themselves.  In some individuals, the stomach stops healing itself and bits of food and digestive matter leak through the lining and get into the bloodstream where they are not supposed to be.  The body notices a foreign invader and attacks. Sometimes, the protein that is identified as a foreign invader is very similar to our own tissue and the body gets a bit confused and attacks our own tissues instead, resulting in autoimmune disease.  The longer the gut goes unhealed, the more food intolerances the individual may “collect”.  And for some, this may lead to multiple autoimmune diseases as the body continues to confuse these foreign proteins for our own.  For other individuals, the body tries to get rid of these toxins through the skin. For any of these individuals, the stomach isn’t healing itself and needs some extra support to do so. Which leads us to the how.

So How do I heal  my gut?  I highly suggest doing this with the guidance of a Functional Medicine Doctor.  Even after reading several doctor written books, my FMD was able to suggest specific products to aid in my healing.  If you don’t know what a Functional Medicine Doctor is imagine a doctor who looks for the “why” to the “what”.  An FMD looks at causes: “why is the body doing this?” and “what can we do to get the body to heal itself?” For example, if there is a blood pressure problem they may look for vitamin deficiencies which can result in the dysregulation of blood pressure and heart rate.  A traditional doctor would put you on blood pressure medicine.  The FMD treats the cause (fixing the deficiency in this hypothetical instance) while an allopathic or traditional medical doctor treats the symptoms.   If they are also integrative, then they will use a combination of pharmaceuticals, diet, lifestyle, and supplements to help you heal as necessary.  Not all are integrative.  Some use more pharmaceuticals than others and some use none.  Its up to you and what you decide to choose for your care and body.  Point is: you have options. But I digress.  The basics of healing your gut are Probiotics (not yogurt as this only contains one strain of good bacteria as opposed to many) such as the kind in fermented foods, Homemade Bone Broth (the kind that gels when it gets cold; the collagen seals the holes) and various good-for-the-gut supplements such as oregano, aloe, gelatin and more.  My doctor put me on GI benefits by DaVinci Labs and GI Synergy by Apex along with some other supplements, daily bone broth or gelatin and daily probiotics.  In addition to the bone broth and supplements, you will need to eliminate (at least temporarily) the foods that caused or contributed to the damage to begin with:  gluten, corn, gmo foods and sugar. Things like gluten will most likely need to be eliminated forever as once you have leaky gut you are prone to it and won’t want to repeat your ordeal (Please consult your doctor for guidance for what is right for your body).  You will want to reduce anything that may be triggering a “flare” to your condition.  But first you need to figure out what foods are causing flares or episodes.  For this reason I suggest doing the AIP way of eating.  AIP is a version of the paleo diet that eliminates all major allergens/triggers.  If you are Celiac, I suggest also eliminating all yeasts, molds, fungus and ferments. and tapioca, cassava, yuca (these last three are different parts of the same plant and often yuca is misspelled as yucca) as these can cross contaminate with gluten (meaning that your body thinks they are gluten and will give you a reaction if they are misidentifying the yeast, etc. as gluten in your body).  After eliminating foods to stop flares of your condition, you then systematically reintroduce foods to identify triggers for your condition.  For some (according to my doctor this does not include Celiacs and not everyone) you get some of these “trigger” foods back after healing your gut, when you try to reintroduce trigger foods for a second time to see if your intolerance to them has been reversed once the gut isn’t leaking the particles into the bloodstream.   For more information on the AIP lifestyle I suggest some books listed here.

So if you are frustrated with autoimmune, food intolerance, neurological disturbances such as anxiety or depression or just want to improve digestive health then I encourage you to focus on your gut health. Even if you don’t have LGS, adding in things like fermented foods and bone broth can help build a healthy body and immune system.  Probiotics (good quality ones which you can find at a health food store or from a functional medicine doctor) are also a good idea for general health also, particularly if you have been exposed to antibiotics or food treated with antibiotics. After all, a large portion of the immune system is in the gut!  And if you are like most of us, you are going need your health on this crazy journey we call life.  For more information, check out the sources and resources listed below.  And as always, to your health!

These are the sources I read to learn all this:

Further Reading/Sources:

The Immune System Recovery Plan by Dr. Susan Blum

The Wahls Protocol  by Dr. Terry Wahls

One Cause, Many Ailments. Leaky Gut Syndrom: What It Is and How It May Be Affecting Your Health by Dr. John Pagano, DC. (this is written in 2008 and there has been a lot of information since then about this subject.  The book still has some things to teach about the subject but I suggest the other two as your primary sources).

Other Great Sources:

Chris Kresser

Mind, Body, Green

The Nourished Kitchen

There is also a great online support group on facebook called AIP SUPPORT.  Come join us for some great support and community in this crazy journey that a lot of us are already on!


Anti-inflammatory “Chai” Latte

antiinflammatory hot chai latte

Anti-inflammatory “Chai” Latte.

This is one of my favorite recipes.  Inflammation is an epidemic and is touted as the root of all disease.  But sometimes inflammation can also manifest as a headache or other simple everyday pain.  No matter the inflammation that is causing you problems, (or even if you just want a yummy and healthy treat), then this recipe is for you.

The ingredients were each carefully chosen not only to mock the taste of a spiced latte but also for each of their health benefits.  The coconut fat is great for Candida, viruses, gut health and brain health.  The turmeric is great for inflammation, brain health, and detoxification.  The cayenne is great for inflammation and metabolism.  The black pepper enhances the power of the turmeric.  The maple syrup has vitamins and minerals. The cinnamon helps with the control of blood sugar and therefore inflammation.  Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory  and used in many home remedies for colds and flus.  And each of the other spices have health benefits too! Together they all taste just wonderful.

All measurements are to taste.. and may be altered to make that taste more or less prominent.  I do, however, suggest that you keep the sweetener to a minimum.  Even too much stevia can have negative consequences if overused. If you have a prominent sweet tooth, I suggest adding only a little of the sweetener and then increasing the cinnamon to make your mouth THINK the recipe is sweeter than it really is.  Try this, it works!

1 Can of Full Fat Coconut Milk

  • (you may use other milks but it may effect the taste because the fat content of the canned coconut milk effects how other flavors mix with it.   There are more health benefits to the canned coconut milk)

1 teaspoon Pure Maple Syrup OR 1/2 packet of stevia OR 1 teaspoon honey

a generous amount of cinnamon (around a teaspoon?)

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon ginger (preferably fresh but bottled works too.  Use less if using dried powder.  The more you use the more “spicy sweet” it will seem.

about 3 dashes of cayenne

about 3 dashes of black pepper

1/2 teaspoon turmeric.  if you don’t have a very sweet tooth, you can use more.  Play with the amount and see how much tastes good to you.  Too much will cause the drink to be too “earthy” tasting.

nutmeg to taste (i did about 4 “sprinkles” or shakes of the bottle)

cloves to taste (i also used about 4 “sprinkles” or shakes of the bottle)

Whenever possible, use organic ingredients to reduce your toxic load.  Things like cayenne are especially heavy in pesticide residue, according to the EWG’s Dirty Dozen List.  Mix Ingredients together in a saucepan and heat over medium to medium low until warm.  Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy! I guarantee this will be the tastiest headache remedy you will ever drink.