Food sensitivities are highly-complex inflammatory reactions, and food sensitivity testing with personalized nutrition therapy can dramatically improve IBS symptoms, but little research exists to support this method beyond anecdotal evidence.
Researchers from Yale University conducted the first randomized trial assessing the usefulness of white blood cell activation food sensitivity testing in IBS, and their findings are promising.
Participants underwent food sensitivity testing for 200 foods. Results were categorized as severe, moderate, mild or no reaction.
Participants were placed in either an intervention or a comparison group. Both groups received individualized instruction to avoid moderately and severely reactive foods, limit mildly reactive foods and eat non-reactive foods for four weeks.
Here’s where it gets interesting…
No one besides one study coordinator knew that the participants in the comparison group actually were eating severely and moderately reactive foods and avoiding non-reactive foods. It was a sham diet inconsistent with test results.
IBS symptoms were assessed at baseline, four weeks, and eight weeks post-baseline using various questionnaires.
The researchers had sought out to prove food sensitivity testing would not benefit participants with IBS, but the opposite was true.
The intervention group demonstrated significantly larger improvements in overall symptoms and symptom severity as compared to the matched sham diet. More specifically, they reported better control of urgency, firmer stools, fewer stools per day, fewer days with incomplete evacuation, and less abdominal pain, bloating, and interference with quality of life.
As a clinical nutritionist who frequently recommends personalized nutrition therapy based on food sensitivity testing, I’m not at all surprised by these encouraging findings.
We are individuals with distinct immune systems and unique food sensitivities. Identifying and eliminating these inflammatory reactions is an important part of managing IBS and other chronic medical conditions.