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The MRT vs the ALCAT: Is Food Sensitivity Testing Reliable?

People ask me all the time if food sensitivity testing is reliable. My answer is always: “Depends on which test you use.”

Food sensitivity/food allergy testing that looks for IgE or IgG antibodies can show us whether or not someone has been exposed to a food and created an antibody to it, but not necessarily if the person becomes symptomatic when exposed.

In other words, antibodies can tell us there is a gun in the room, but not whether it has been fired. The existence of these antibodies are not reliable indicators of symptoms.

The ALCAT test, invented in the early 1980s by a team led by Dr. Mark Pasula, was the first test to look at the release of inflammatory markers known as mediators rather than the slippery antibodies. Over time, Dr. Pasula wasn’t satisfied with the way the ALCAT measured the mediator release from the blood. This led to a bitter difference of opinion within ALCAT and Dr. Pasoula split to apply what he had figured out to making a more accurate and reliable test.

The state-of-the-art Mediator Release Test, or MRT, is like ALCAT 2.0.

Dr. Allen Bonilla, D.C., in Los Angeles, recently decided to see once and for all which test, the ALCAT or the MRT, would provide more accurate results with which to treat his suffering patients. In this video, he takes blood samples for three ALCAT tests and three MRT tests on the same afternoon and submitted them to the labs.

Holding the results side-by-side, it’s plain to see that the ALCAT results changed radically from sample to sample, while the MRT results were practically identical for the three submissions.

Thank you, Dr. Bonilla, for this enlightening experiment, and for sharing it on video. (Be sure to continue reading below the video for more…)

I’ve always found it hard to trust ALCAT results when working with clients, and now I can see exactly how unreliable this test is. It’s unfortunate, because ALCAT employs a sales force that convinces allergists and other doctors to order this test for their patients. When following the ALCAT results does not eliminate their symptoms, they dismiss the idea the dietary therapy could help relieve their condition.

Oxford Laboratories, on the other hand, the company Dr. Pasula founded to build the MRT, realizes that doctors do not have the time or expertise in nutrition to correctly interpret the test results and implement a therapeutic diet, so they focused their efforts on training Registered Dieticians (RDs) and other practitioners knowledgeable in nutrition and food.

Which makes the MRT a choice to go with a professional who can take the time to work with you to regain your health.

My food sensitivities clinic is open to clients nationwide. My clients receive not only the reliable results from the MRT, but also extensive analysis and customized anti-inflammatory diet plans complete with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack ideas, recipes, and safe brands and shopping advice.

Dr. Lipman’s FAQs on food sensitivities

Dr. Frank Lipman, a South African-trained medical doctor who practices a combination of western and holistic medicine at his Eleven-Eleven Wellness Center in New York City, offers some good information about food sensitivities and how to relieve them. In Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop newsletter, Dr. Lipman gives Gwyeneth  on breakfast ideas that work around her sensitivities to dairy, gluten, wheat, corn, and oats.

dr. frank lipman
Dr. Frank Lipman

His FAQs on food sensitivities offer a good overview of what food sensitivities are, but I had a little trouble with his advice to follow an elimination diet to identify the culprits. Here was my response:

This is a great post about food sensitivities, but the problem with doing an “elimination diet” is that you can’t be sure that you are not sensitive to whatever you continue to eat. When we eliminated wheat, soy, and dairy from my son’s diet for a year it didn’t make any difference because there were almost 40 other foods he was still eating that were causing him to react.

Now I work with the Mediator Release Test (MRT) which does an amazing job of identifying food sensitivities. Using the scientifically-based results we design a “safe diet” out of the foods with low reactivity rather than an “elimination diet” based on guesswork. The MRT is the next-generation of the ALCAT and includes dietary management protocols to increase the rate of recovery from symptoms. I have found it to be very effective in helping my clients eradicate their symptoms and lead normal lives.

If you suspect you might be suffering from food sensitivities, you’ll want to check here to see if you’re a good candidate for Mediator Release Testing and a LEAP dietary protocol. Like Dr. Lipman, I work hard to create delicious recipes and exciting menus that avoid your personal allergens so that your new way of eating is sustainable and does not make you feel deprived. Simply changing your diet can be life-changing if done correctly.