The Food + Pulse Connection: How to Detect Food Reactions

Why does it seems as though food allergies and sensitivities are on the up and up? There are a several reasons and theories leading up to this, but how can you tell if you’re one of those people? Isn’t a little stomach gurgling normal after eating a meal? Or a headache a few hours later? Or a little bloating? I mean, everyone gets that right??

Here’s a quick and easy test you can do at home in less than 2.5 minutes to determine if you’re having a reaction to a certain food.

What is The Pulse Test?

Based off of the Coca’s Pulse Test, this is a simple and super easy 2 ½ minute self-test to see if a particular food or supplement causes a stressful reaction in your body.

This test may not be valid if you are taking a drug that controls your heart rate, such as a calcium channel blocker or a beta-blocker.

This test is contraindicated for foods that you have a known food allergy to.

How It Works

When you place a bite of food on your tongue, the sensory information from the tongue sends signals to the central nervous system (brain) and informs it of the nature of test substance. This is called Lingual Neural Testing, which is biofeedback tool used by practitioners such as Nutritional Therapy Practitioners to determine the usefulness of a nutritional supplement based on your body’s needs–essentially eliminating the guessing game of what you think your body might need.

If the test substance such as a food or a supplement is stressful to the body (meaning it causes your immune system to react), you will have a brief reaction that causes your heart to beat faster.

What It Tells You

A reaction is an increase of 6 or more beats per minute than your baseline. This means that that food is considered stressful to your body and your body is reacting to it. This can be considered as a food sensitivity. The higher the heart rate, the greater the degree of stress to the body.

How to Do It

What You’ll Need:

  1. A 1-minute timer
  2. Paper/Phone (for recording heart rates)
  3. Something to write with

What You’ll Do:

  1. Sit down, take a deep breath, and relax.
  2. Find your baseline pulse by counting your heart beat for a full 60 seconds (radial or carotid work best).
  3. Record your baseline pulse.
  4. Put a sample of a food or supplement on your tongue. 
  5. When you taste the food, retake your pulse with the food or supplement still in your mouth for 60 seconds.
  6. Write down your “After” pulse.
  7. Discard the tested ingredient (do not swallow), rinse any taste out of your more, then repeat the procedure to test other foods or supplements.

After placing the food on your tongue:

  • You need to be able to taste it for approximately 30 seconds.
  • You can close your mouth and chew while you wait, but refrain from swallowing (you need it to stay on your tongue + be able to taste it).
  • Test only one food or ingredient at a time. For example, testing a banana tells you more a lot more specific and more valuable information than testing banana bread.

Repeat the test as frequently as you like, as long as you always return to your normal pulse before testing the next food.

Can I Use a Digital/Electronic Device to Check My Pulse?

You could use something that monitors your pulse electronically, but there’s a certain art to feeling your pulse and connecting with yourself in that way.

In the hospital for example, this is why blood pressures are re-checked manually if there is a concern with a blood pressure reading, especially since many devices have a large range of variance and can pick up artifacts in the reading.

If you choose to use an electronic device, be sure to compare the digital reading with your manual one first for one full minute before administering the Pulse Test.

If the manual reading and digital reading match up, then go for it.

If they don’t match up, opt to do the test manually as being off a little bit could skew your results.

What If I Have a Positive Reaction to Something??

A big reason food sensitivities are becoming more and more prevalent has to do with increased intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut.

Leaky gut happens when the cells of the gut lining develop gaps between them which allows undigested food particles into the blood stream. The undigested food triggers a reaction from your immune system, which increases the stress in the body and decreases the capacity of the immune system.

Many people with severe seasonal allergies actually have unaddressed food sensitivities. Basically, you’re asking your immune system to multitask and fight two battles at once, which can compromise your body’s ability to handle or tolerate seasonal allergies.

Also, some foods, like dairy, are mucous producing, which compounds the problem–especially if you suffer from seasonal allergies.

Leaky gut can also contribute to candida, or fungal, symptoms NOT in the gut (dandruff, acne, oily hair, recurrent sinus infections/headaches, itchy/smelly private areas, etc.) as candida is allowed to enter the blood stream from the gaps in the gut lining and travels systemically throughout the body.

Interestingly enough, nearly every illness and autoimmune disease have a GI component to it, so if you have some positive results, working with a qualified nutritionally-oriented provider like a functional medicine doctor or Nutritional Therapy Practitioner can definitely help and even prevent going down the path of a debilitating autoimmune condition or worse.

The good news is that many food sensitivities can be healed with a nutrient dense diet, time, and patience, starting with the gut and gut bacteria as well as temporarily eliminating certain foods while your body is healing and calming down from possibly years and years of stress.

Curious about what Nutritional Therapy can do for you? Click here for more info.

Now you have quick and easy tool you can use to see what your body is trying to tell you. Try it out! Were there any results that surprised you? Share below!

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Hi, I’m Melissa!

I’m a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner dedicated whole foods nutrition and helping people make better food choices easy so they can find + meet the right health goals for their bodies.

Learn more about me here.

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