The LEAP Immunocalm Diet is clinically proven to improve migraines, irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia. Depending on the individual, the diet can be helpful in just about any condition where inflammation is involved, but especially:
The LEAP Immunocalm Diet is an oligo-antigenic diet (a diet that is low in any foods that cause an inflammatory immune response for an individual) based on a blood test called the Mediator Release Test (MRT). MRT is a patented blood test from Oxford Biomedical Technologies, Inc. (US Patent numbers 6, 114, 174 & 6, 200, 815) that indirectly quantifies how strongly the immune cells react to the foods and food chemicals tested. When released from immune cells, inflammatory chemical mediators such as histamine, cytokines, and prostaglandins produce damaging effects on body tissues, leading to the development of symptoms. These symptoms are often delayed and the response is called a non- IgE-mediated food or chemical allergy. MRT shows an individual’s inflammatory immune response to 150 common foods and food chemicals/additives. Results are presented in a graphic format showing low reactive, moderately reactive, and highly reactive foods (120) and chemicals/additives (30).
Foods and food chemicals (either naturally occurring or man-made), can cause symptoms and cause or worsen inflammatory conditions, including autoimmune diseases. Unlike an IgE-mediated food allergy response, such as a peanut allergy, wherein the allergic person has an immediate and many times, life-threatening response to the food, non-IgE-mediated reactions can take up to 3 days to manifest. Additionally, the symptoms are more chronic and subtle, in contrast to an IgE-mediated response. Where one would might have immediate hives and dangerous swelling of the throat and closing of the airway with an IgE-mediated food allergy, a non-IgE-mediated food allergy (via a variety of other inflammatory immune pathways) typically evokes understated symptoms which do not put the person in immediate danger, such as skin rashes, rosy cheeks, joint pain, digestive problems, mood swings, fatigue, headaches, diarrhea, etc.
Identifying foods which trigger a delayed response can be very difficult without testing, especially if multiple foods are causing the total inflammatory response, which is most often the case. For this reason, even with the most detailed food and symptom logging, identifying trigger foods is difficult at best. A person with notable symptoms or a known inflammatory condition can have anywhere from 10 to 50+ foods/chemicals result as reactive with MRT. Additionally, some reactions can be dose dependent, meaning that small amounts of a given food from time to time may not cause a reaction, whereas frequent exposure to or large amounts of the given food will cause a reaction. Once the MRT results are obtained, the next step involves following the individualized LEAP eating plan which systematically builds a healthy diet of foods that can be tolerated. A Certified Leap Therapist (CLT) utilizes MRT and provides guidance and support in implementing the LEAP Immunocalm Diet.
Foods Given Up/Foods Eaten Frequently:
This will be determined by individual test results. The LEAP Immunocalm Diet is initially implemented in five phases. Foods allowed in each phase is determined by the results of the Mediator Release Test and start with the least reactive foods first. All foods in Phases 1 through 5 are low-reactive foods (indicated by a green bar on the test results).
During the five phases, it is strongly recommended that no untested foods or ingredients be consumed. Only tested foods that show a low/no reaction can be consumed during this time. The very lowest reactive foods are started in Phase 1. Phase 1 is the most difficult phase, since this is the time when food is most restricted, and it is also the phase with most potential for symptom relief and begins the healing process. Phase 1 typically lasts 10 to 14 days, and Phase 2 may start when there has been significant symptom resolution.
When Phase 2 begins, one food at a time can be introduced. It may be best to add the new food and eat it multiple times over 3 days to make sure no reaction occurs. If not, this food is considered safe to continue eating. It can take weeks to months to make it through all of the phases. Generally, moderately reactive foods (indicated by a yellow bar) are strictly avoided for at least 3 months and highly reactive foods (indicated by a red bar) for at least 6 months before reintroducing. After the phases are completed, a rotation diet is recommended and guidance is provided. The rotation diet ensures that certain foods and food families are not over-consumed to the point that the person loses oral tolerance to those foods or food families. Oral tolerance is the ability to consume a food without it causing a hypersensitive, or inflammatory, response.
The Certified LEAP Therapist, which is typically a Registered Dietitian, and is sometimes a Registered Nurse or Physician’s Assistant (many medical practices use the LEAP Diet and MRT to treat patients), helps the client/patient order testing and interpret results and implement the diet. The Certified LEAP Therapist helps with dietary planning and provides sample menus and recipes which teach the client/patient about how to use the allowed ingredients together in creative ways. Baseline and subsequent periodic symptom surveys are an important tool that the Certified LEAP Therapist uses to assess symptoms and progress over time. Daily food and symptom recording is required for success, so the client must commit to this before getting started.
The LEAP Therapist uses clinical judgment and experience to guide the client/patient through his or her LEAP Immunocalm Diet. The test results are not as black and white as they may seem, and the LEAP client/patient should know before getting started, that there is some flexibility and space allowed for adjusting the diet and the foods allowed in the various phases. For this reason, working with a CLT while implementing the diet is paramount.
Meal Frequency and Portion Sizes
Three meals and two to three snacks are generally recommended. The diet is not a calorie-restricted diet and is balanced. Portioning should be sensible, and the Certified LEAP Therapist can provide guidance here. Daily food and symptom recording is critical to an individual’s success. The LEAP client/patient has the responsibility of observing his or her own responses and symptoms and recording and sending these to the LEAP Therapist on a weekly basis.
Ideally, no supplements are taken during Phase 1, and medications are researched by the LEAP Therapist for reactive ingredients. If reactive ingredients are found in medications, the LEAP Therapist, the client/patient and the prescribing doctor, should work together to find a suitable alternative or make a decision to continue on the medication, based on the clinical judgment of the prescribing doctor with input from the LEAP Therapist and client/patient. The LEAP Therapist can help sort out what supplements are necessary to re-start after Phase 1, if any, and help find high quality supplements which do not contain reaction-causing ingredients and excipients.
The diet may require shopping at a specialty or organic store based on foods required, but there are no pre-packaged LEAP food products. The LEAP Immunocalm Diet has been called one of the cleanest diets, since virtually no processed foods are allowed in the first 5 phases. Some of the foods may seem expensive, but given the fact that eating out is minimized and processed foods are eliminated, the diet tends to be very affordable—especially if the immediate family/household will eat the same, or mostly the same, foods while at home.
The diet is unique as far as the Mediator Release Test, although it is similar to philosophies recommending an elimination diet, particularly those which recommend basing the elimination diet on food sensitivity testing.
Dr. Mark Hyman, whose recommendations have been covered, recommends delayed food allergy testing to guide the elimination diet. There are multiple methodologies for this, and it should be noted that one of the most commonly used methods of testing for delayed food allergies, IgG4 allergy testing, has not been shown in research to be reliable. Positive IgG4 results have not been shown to correspond to clinical symptoms. Positive IgG4 results typically indicate exposure and tolerance of the food, not that the food is causing an inflammatory response and symptoms.
The Hauser Diet recommends identifying food allergens, but does not go into detail on how to do this. MRT results can be used to identify trigger foods, regardless of what diet or methodology a person decides to follow. The Certified LEAP Therapist often takes many other dietary factors into consideration when working with the client to implement the LEAP Immunocalm Diet.
There is no standard way of finding a local Certified LEAP Therapist (CLT) though some are listed at the link above. However, many dietitians who are CLTs are often a part of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ practice group: Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine. Find a Dietitian in Integrative and Functional Medicine (DIFM).
About the Author
Angie King-Nosseir MS, RD is an Integrative and Functional Registered Dietitian, with a passion for walking with people along their path toward health transformation. Angie has a Master’s degree in Nutrition, is a Certified LEAP Therapist, corporate wellness health coach, freelance nutrition and wellness writer, and certified yoga instructor. She is trained in Functional Nutrition and Medicine through the Institute for Functional Medicine and in Food as Medicine through the Center for Mind-Body Medicine.
This blog post was originally published by AutoimmuneMom.com, written by Angie King-Nosseir MS, RD, and first published on Aug 29, 2012.