We learned about the Mediator Release Test (MRT) after my husband was diagnosed with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Milder medications had stopped working, and we were hesitant to move onto the heavier medications that his doctor had recommended.
So I researched other options… and researched… and researched.
(Though I had already been a dietitian for years, I hadn’t heard of functional medicine yet.)
Supposedly, food could trigger his arthritis… but we had already tried elimination diets and food sensitivity tests with little success.
He was in a lot of pain by this point. His job, hobbies, and home life were beginning to take a back seat to his arthritis. He was also getting sick of being a guinea pig for natural remedies while I tried to figure this out.
Then I stumbled upon the lesser-known Mediator Release Test (MRT) for food sensitivities. It was supposedly different from others we had tried. It promised to pin down my husband’s problem foods with great accuracy and less blind experimentation. Yes, please! We decided to give food sensitivity testing one more chance.
Why Get a Food Sensitivity Test?
A food sensitivity occurs when your immune system detects a food to be dangerous and “attacks” it. This causes lots of inflammation and damage to your body over time.
Food sensitivities usually appear after you’ve developed a silent condition called “leaky gut”. Leaky gut happens when your digestive lining literally becomes damaged and ‘holey’ or more porous due to things like1:
- Ibuprofen, naproxen, and other NSAIDS
- Sugar and processed foods
- Steroid medications
- Birth control pills
- Environmental toxins
- Certain food additives
You can literally develop a food sensitivity reaction to just about anything besides water, salt, and baking soda. It’s almost impossible for people to pin down their major sensitivities without proper testing. Or a very strict elimination diet with slow, systematic introductions of foods over the course of many months.
This is why so many people are interested in tests like the MRT. The MRT helps them get to the root of their food sensitivity issues faster, with more accuracy and less guesswork.
Food Sensitivities VS Food Allergies
Both food sensitivities and food allergies can have similar effects in the body. They are actually very different issues caused by totally different parts of the immune system.
Food allergies are triggered by IgE antibodies, and an allergic reaction happens within two hours. Symptoms are usually pretty obvious (hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, or digestive upset). IgE is found along our tissue linings (skin, throat, lungs, or digestive tract). These reactions typically take place near the actual site of exposure. Allergies can be life-threatening.
Food sensitivities, on the other hand, are much harder to identify. They can be triggered by a number of immune system components, including IgG or IgM antibodies, or T-cells. Your symptoms can be delayed for up to three days after you eat the offending food. Also, symptoms can happen ANYWHERE in the body. Remember, the offending food has leaked through your gut into systemic circulation, including your joints, brain, thyroid, or digestive tract. The multiple factors at play make it very challenging to pinpoint the real issue without the MRT test.
So just because you’ve tested negative for food allergies doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look into food sensitivities. If you do have allergies and you’ve eliminated those foods, but still feel like other foods could be bothering you… food sensitivities could be the answer.
You can read my in-depth article on food sensitivities and allergies here.
What is a Mediator Release Test?
A Mediator Release Test is a food sensitivity test. It helps pin down your immune system’s unique response to 170 foods and chemicals commonly found in your diet. It is a blood test performed by Oxford Laboratories.
They use a different process than other companies to quantify how much inflammation each food or chemical causes for you. The science behind their method makes a lot more sense than other methods (I’ll discuss this more below).
The results are very clear. They provide organized, color-coded bars showing the exact level of inflammation each tested food or chemical provokes for you.
We could clearly see which foods were safe and which foods caused major inflammation for my husband.
What is the LEAP Diet?
The LEAP diet is a specialized protocol based on your MRT results. It boasts reducing symptoms by 70% in the first 2 weeks of implementation.
We’ll discuss how to interpret your MRT results and develop your LEAP diet in a moment.
LEAP stands for Lifestyle Eating and Performance. It was originally developed to help serious athletes improve their performance. Many functional medicine professionals find it invaluable for improving a variety of diseases (including arthritis, migraines, joint pain, fibromyalgia, and IBS).
LEAP drastically reduces inflammation and heals your gut. It temporarily removes your specific inflammatory foods from your diet long enough for healing to occur.
This works because inflammation and leaky gut are root causes behind almost every chronic disease.
People with autoimmune disease often ask their peers, “What foods helped your symptoms improve?” The truth is, your ideal diet will look different than anyone else’s. Your body is inflamed by different foods. Your body has its own unique sensitivities.
Did MRT/LEAP Work For Us?
MRT and LEAP began to improve my husband’s psoriasis and arthritis after about two weeks on the protocol. (P.S. I completed 30 hours of training and passed an exam to become a Certified LEAP Therapist before ordering his test. This way, I knew how to properly read his results and design a LEAP diet that would work best for him.)
His joint pain nearly disappeared within a month. This was a major break-through for us after many months of research, experimentation, small successes, and disheartening failures.
He also saw a lot of bonus side benefits such as no more heartburn, reduced migraines, and improved energy. That’s the power of using food as medicine and addressing the root causes rather than simply suppressing your symptoms. You get a long list of side benefits rather than side effects!
The MRT continues to be the single most effective step we have taken to improve his psoriatic arthritis naturally.
After healing, we reintroduced almost all of the “reactive” foods from his MRT results into his diet without any problems. Wheat, peppers, and milk still cause inflammation for him, but he has easily adapted to these food sensitivities. He has found a diet that not only works for him, but has healed him.
I want to make it very clear that MRT/LEAP alone were not enough to put his autoimmune diseases into remission. For some people it is enough, but you have to address all of YOUR root causes.
For my husband, major root causes included dysbiosis, Candida Albicans overgrowth, a viral infection, and stress. These issues also needed to be treated in order for healing to occur. Thankfully, there were natural diet and lifestyle treatments for each of these.
For others I’ve worked with, toxins, stress, poor diet, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), histamines, etc. were root causes. MRT helped provide immediate relief for ALL of these clients, but addressing their other root causes was also important.
Don’t worry! A Certified LEAP Therapist/functional medicine practitioner like myself can help you make sense of your own symptoms and health history. I can help you find clues to pin down your unique root causes, and give you a clear plan.
Why is MRT the Best Food Sensitivity Test?
The Mediator Release Test (MRT) uses a vastly different method than other food sensitivity testing companies. It was developed by immunologist Mark Pasula using a patented impedance technology. The test is only performed by one high-quality lab, Oxford Laboratories.
Why Other Tests Don’t Work
Other so-called “food sensitivity tests” are cheap and performed by dozens of different labs, with varying quality and methods. They typically test for IgG antibodies that your body has for various foods or chemicals. This method often gives many false positives or false negatives.
We tried an IgG test for my husband before MRT. We paid more for a “higher quality” IgG test. It came back saying he was highly reactive to everything he ate most. This made his diet really hard to follow… and it didn’t make him feel much better.
IgG tests are not very effective. The presence of IgG antibodies doesn’t mean your immune system will release the inflammatory mediators that CAUSE inflammation and damage. In fact, IgG can be a marker of TOLERANCE to that food.
Your immune system doesn’t necessarily need to be signaled by IgG to attack a food antigen before it will attack. Other antibodies like IgA, IgM, or T-cells can also trigger an inflammatory response to any food.
For all of these reasons, IgG food sensitivity tests have a lot of short-comings and I never recommend them.
Why MRT Does Work?
The MRT measures the amount of inflammatory mediators released when you’re exposed to each food/chemical on the test panel.
This means it captures ALL food sensitivity reactions, not just those caused by IgG antibodies.
The test is able to quantify HOW MUCH inflammation each tested substance causes for you. This is really helpful, rather than just a “positive” or “negative” result like some tests give.
On our results below, the length of the bar quantifies how much chemical mediator was released for that food/chemical. The bars are color-coded and ordered by lowest-to-highest inflammatory foods per category. This makes it really easy to visualize your results.
Read my review of the MRT along with other food sensitivity tests: The Ultimate Guide: 4 Best + 7 Worst Food Sensitivity Tests.
Oxford Labs, which performs the MRT test, is CLIA certified. The test itself boasts:
- 94% sensitivity, up to 91% specificity, meaning it is very accurate, very few false negatives, very few false positives.
- 90% split-sample reproducibility, meaning when MRT was performed twice on same sample of blood, results matched 90% (70)(7l[1). That’s pretty darn good!
Mediator Release Test Reviews
After discovering the power of the MRT for my husband, I ordered it for my own clients, with amazing results.
I would say my clients have about a 70% improvement in symptoms in the first two weeks with MRT/LEAP. This gets them feeling better faster so that we can work on other root causes for long-term healing.
Each person’s journey looks a little different though, and your body will respond in its own unique way and timing.
One client, Sarah, found her rheumatoid arthritis took about eight weeks following LEAP/MRT before her joint pain improved. After further personalizing her diet and supplement plan, she has had no symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis for two years!
Mindy suffered from fibromyalgia for decades. Medications did little to soothe the intense muscle pain, joint pain, and fatigue that she endured daily. After beginning my preparatory Jumpstart program alone, her pain and energy greatly improved. We began her LEAP diet and she was able to discontinue medications without symptoms returning.
Fleur also suffered from intense daily pain in her joints and muscles from fibromyalgia for over 20 years. Medications provided little relief. After a couple weeks of following my Jumpstart program, she was already feeling much better. After starting her custom LEAP diet, she was able to function and manage her pain without large doses of ibuprofen. Her depression and exhaustion greatly improved as well.
These are just some clients who have improved their health with the MRT, LEAP diet, and nutrition coaching.
My personal clients have seen MRT and nutrition therapy improve:
- Arthritis, including rheumatoid, psoriatic, osteoarthritis, and idiopathic
- polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Ulcerative colitis
- GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease)
- reflux and colic in babies of nursing mothers
- depression and anxiety (both mild and major)
- and more….
How to Get a Mediator Release Test
You can order a Mediator Release Test (MRT) kit through any Certified LEAP Therapist (CLT). CLTs are dietitians that have passed 30+ hours of additional training in food sensitivity testing and an exam. We are experts at interpreting results and implementing an effective LEAP diet protocol specific to you.
A MRT test will be ordered for you as a part of my comprehensive Thrive with Arthritis 12 Week Program. I’ve developed a unique 4-phase approach to healing joint pain with food. After years of research, I’ve identified the root causes of joint pain and the best ways to address them.
During this step-by-step program I help you:
- Identify root causes of your joint pain so you can experience long-term healing from the inside out
- Pinpoint your unique problem foods using a Mediator Release Test (MRT)
- Customize a highly effective LEAP diet based on your MRT results so you can begin feeling better quickly
- Implement the 5 simple, foundational habits for long-term healing so your disease doesn’t come back
- Balance your gut microbiome, a common root cause of joint pain
- Heal your gut to prevent food sensitivities from returning
- Enhance your body’s natural ability to detox, another common problem
- Address and improve exhaustion, weight and other symptoms
- Support you through the process with resources like frequent one-to-one sessions, video lessons, meal plans, shopping lists, printables, and more.
The MRT is a blood test kit shipped straight to your home with everything you need. You will take this kit to a blood draw location near you. Don’t worry, your CLT will help you locate a blood draw location.
How to Interpret MRT Results
Your MRT results will return with a visual, color-coded, and organized representation of all 170 tested substances. It will show you the level of inflammatory response that you experience with each one.
It also comes with a 60+ page booklet with helpful tips for implementing the LEAP diet.
But you will want the help of your CLT to interpret your results for several reasons:
- When a CLT helps you design your LEAP protocol, patients see 70% improvement in symptoms in the first two weeks. People who try to implement the diet themselves usually don’t have as good of results.
- Your results will come with a computer-generated rotation diet based on your results. I tell all my clients to ignore it. It is too restrictive and complicated to follow. Few people would have the time or skill to successfully follow it. I can help you come up with a better plan.
- It can be overwhelming looking up the food lists in your booklet. You feel like the chemicals you react to are in all your favorite foods. Your CLT can help you interpret the results, knowing which foods/chemicals you truly need to avoid and for how long.
- Your CLT can help you recognize patterns in your chemical/food intolerances that indicate certain categories of foods to avoid.
- The LEAP diet is not meant to be a long-term eating pattern. Your CLT will help you start re-introducing foods back into your diet as quickly as possible. If you don’t know how/when to safely do this, you may end up stuck with an overly restrictive diet. Or expand too quickly and negate the benefits you gained before you’ve sufficiently healed.
- A CLT like myself trained in functional medicine will help you heal your gut. I would also help you address other root causes before, during, and after your LEAP protocol.
The MRT and LEAP diet protocol can help improve symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, IBS, migraines, depression, and much more.
It uses a unique, effective technology to pinpoint food sensitivities, which are a common root cause in many chronic diseases.
It’s important to work with a Certified LEAP Therapist (CLT), a dietitian specially trained in food sensitivity therapy. CLTs help you get the best results from your MRT test. They help you heal your gut and fix the root causes of disease, giving you a ton of value.
If you suffer from joint pain, I’ve developed a unique 4-Phase approach to healing joint pain with food. I’d love you to join my Thrive with Arthritis 12 Week Program! It includes an MRT test as one step in my comprehensive program to healing.
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