What is a Certified LEAP Therapist (CLT)?

Jenna Volpe - Certified LEAP Therapist

First things first… LEAP stands for “Lifestyle Eating & Performance”!  

This unique evidence-based protocol is essentially a 6-part customized elimination diet which takes place alongside Mediator Release (MRT) food sensitivity testing and the guidance and clinical supervision of a certified LEAP therapist (CLT). 

  • Some LEAP therapists also refer to the LEAP protocol as the “Immuno-Calm Diet” and/or the “Oligoantigenic Diet”.

The purpose of working with a LEAP therapist is to address certain types of chronic inflammatory health conditions/symptoms which can be triggered by adverse food reactions, specifically food sensitivities. 

  • When we eat foods that we’re “sensitive” or highly reactive to (from an MRT standpoint), it means certain types of cells in the immune system are releasing mediators (such as cytokines, prostaglandins, leukotrienes or histamine) through a non-allergy reaction.  These mediators are often found to be responsible for directly triggering unwanted symptoms such as diarrhea, joint pain, migraines or skin breakouts to name a few.

What’s different about the LEAP approach:

LEAP therapists won’t just tell you what NOT to eat; in this process we also emphasize and incorporate all the foods that work best for YOUR body, based on YOUR bloodwork (MRT food sensitivity test results) and based on careful tracking through food-symptom journals.

Unlike many other types of elimination diets out there, which tend to be too restrictive, the LEAP diet is also nutritionally sound and balanced!  

How does someone become certified as a LEAP therapist?

In order to become a CLT, you need to also be a registered dietitian-nutritionist (RDN) which entails a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences plus 1200+ hours of supervised practicum work prior to passing a national board exam.  

  • Registered dietitian-nutritionists are also required to complete an additional 75 hours of continuing education every 5 years, in order to stay informed on the latest research and maintain our credentials.

In the process of learning to be a certified LEAP therapist (CLT), we receive advanced clinical training in the physiology, identification and management of adverse food reactions (with an emphasis on food sensitivities).

We also learn how to interpret MRT test results, and are taught to guide our clients properly through the LEAP elimination diet.

What do I do as a Certified LEAP therapist?

My primary role as a CLT or “LEAP dietitian” is to help my clients identify and manage underlying food sensitivities, so they can reduce/eliminate unwanted symptoms of chronic inflammation by at least 50-90%.

The goal of identifying and addressing food sensitivities is to resolve certain types of health conditions that can be triggered (but not necessarily caused) by food sensitivities.

Is food sensitivity testing the same as allergy testing?

Food sensitivities are completely different from other types of adverse food reactions such as food allergies (mediated by histamine, taking place within mast cells and only involving IgE antibodies) or food intolerances (which take place only in the gut, and don’t involve any kind of immune system response mechanism).

Not all food sensitivity tests are created equal!

Although there are many different types of food sensitivity tests out there, CLT’s order a specific functional nutrition lab test called “Meditator Release Testing” (MRT) which measures a person’s immune reaction to 170 different types of foods and chemicals collectively.

MRT is considered the “gold-standard” of food sensitivity testing (not food allergy testing) because it’s the most accurate, specific and reliable based on evidence-based research.

Who can benefit from working with a certified LEAP therapist?

MRT and the LEAP protocol are not for everyone…

Dietary restrictions are NO joke, and can cause unwanted harm (both physically and psychiatrically) when foods are taken away unnecessarily over time! 

  • I always make sure to screen patients for eating disorders or a tendency towards disordered eating before even suggesting food sensitivity testing. CLT’s would not advise someone with an eating disorder to take any foods out of their diet unless they were dealing with true food allergies or a very clear adverse reaction to a particular food.  (Ultimately, you must have a healthy, sound relationship with food and self-care before embarking on this kind of journey!)
  • People with constipation but no symptoms of diarrhea are also less likely to benefit from MRT and the LEAP diet (unless they’re also prone to migraines, joint pain, or other conditions listed below). 

How food sensitivities cause inflammationSome of the most common examples of conditions that DO often meet criteria for Mediator Release testing and the LEAP protocol include, but are not limited to:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with diarrhea

  • Leaky gut syndrome

  • Crohn’s disease

  • Ulcerative colitis

  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome

  • Heartburn/GERD

  • Migraines

  • ADD/ADHD

  • Epilepsy/seizures

  • Insomnia

  • Depression

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Inflammatory arthritis

  • Unexplained tendency towards fluid retention

  • PCOS/hormonal havoc

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Acne

  • Eczema

  • Hives

  • Psoriasis

  • Rosacea

  • Certain other types of autoimmune disorders and/or unexplained skin eruptions

As a reminder, simply eliminating reactive (red/yellow) foods from your diet is NOT enough to heal and reverse a longstanding chronic illness (such as any of the above), although it can be a key factor in managing symptoms and reducing inflammation.

The key to getting better is addressing the whole person through various aspects of health and holistic lifestyle change, which takes time and commitment!

What clients can expect after receiving their MRT results:

After completing the MRT food sensitivity test, people will meet with their LEAP therapist to go over everything before planning and implementing the LEAP protocol (which typicallys last from 6 to 8 weeks).

We then continue to meet 1:1, progressively adding more and more foods back into your diet (one at a time), while tracking any symptoms every step of the way.

LEAP clients also receive a 50+ page booklet explaining their test results, with customized recipes, restaurant dining tips, and a laminated card with a list of the foods they react to.

But most importantly, clients can expect to feel 50-90% better by the end of their LEAP program (if program adherence was high enough!). 

Clients can also expect to have LOTS more clarify on which foods work and don’t work for their body.

Does any of this resonate with you? 

If so, you might be a great candidate for MRT and the LEAP protocol!

But please know I don’t do MRT food sensitivity testing and LEAP with clients unless we deem it to be clinically warranted and feasible (since it’s a big investment in your time, money and lifestyle change). 

The programs that I offer are customized, which means we may or may not include MRT and LEAP on your healing journey.

Before determining whether or not you would like to receive MRT and LEAP, let’s chat!

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