Healing with Foods that Nourish
Kristine Bahr of Cutting-Edge Wellness
by KIM CHILDS | Published on NaturalAwakenings.com November 2013
Kristine Bahr is a clinical nutritionist whose career grew out of her childhood challenges with what appeared to be allergies. The problem was so severe that Bahr had to receive shots and sterilize her environment to manage her condition. As an adult, she discovered that her issues were caused by an improper diet. When Bahr tested herself for food sensitivities and eliminated the items that caused inflammation, her health improved and she no longer needed shots. In 2001, she combined her degrees in counseling and clinical nutrition to establish Cutting Edge Wellness in the Boston area. Natural Awakenings wanted to know more about Bahr’s approach to helping people feel better by eating the right foods.
What is your protocol for working with clients?
The initial consultation develops a complete picture of needs, lifestyle and objectives. I also outline any required diagnostic testing, which can include checking for parasites, metabolic, lipid and genetic testing, assessing nutrient deficiencies and testing for food sensitivities. I’m not into quick fixes. People are complex and I’m dedicated to identifying the root causes of illness through a functional medicine approach. I work with clients to develop a plan that helps them reach the point where they can heal themselves.
How are food sensitivities different than allergies?
Food allergies are often obvious, causing immediate symptoms like diarrhea, headache, sneezing, rapid pulse or a closed throat. I don’t test for allergies because most people know what theirs are. With food sensitivities, however, the reaction is delayed and a person may not feel anything for three days. Another way they manifest is when people can’t lose weight despite efforts to diet and exercise. I have one client who was a binge eater and, once we found out what her food sensitivities were and eliminated those items, her cravings went away. She’s now losing three to four pounds a week effortlessly while eating plenty of tasty foods.
What’s involved in testing for food sensitivities?
The tests are done by MIT scientists. Using blood samples, they identify foods that may be responsible for causing the symptoms associated with inflammation; typically, with a 95 percent accuracy rate. My clients are often surprised to learn that the foods that they think are good for them are causing inflammation. For example, lots of people are detoxing these days by drinking smoothies. Detox diets can be helpful under nutritional supervision because they give the body a break from heavy digestion. But even a plant-based diet can be counterproductive if someone is sensitive to foods like broccoli or peaches and they keep eating those things.
How did we as a population become so sensitive to food?
Most people are eating foods that the body can’t digest. They’re eating too much salt, sugar, flour products or alcohol and their bodies are breaking down. In addition, there is only a thin layer of topsoil left in the United States, so we’re not getting the rich minerals that our parents and grandparents consumed. We now have more degenerative diseases as a result. Our bodies have developed a systemic inflammatory response because of this lack of nutrients and overconsumption of unhealthy foods, causing leaky gut or intestinal hyper-permeability. This can cause inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, allergies, asthma, acne, weight issues and other problems. It’s the result of toxins, microbes, undigested food, medications, the poor quality of our food and stress. When someone is under emotional stress, it’s best to avoid eating solid food because they won’t digest it properly due to lack of enzyme activity. Instead, they could sip on soup or a smoothie until they’re more relaxed.
How is your health today?
Great. I know where my weaknesses are and I have to stay on top if it when I get the warning signs of inflammation. That’s the message I tell my clients, too. When you start to notice problems, treat them right away before they become chronic conditions. Prevention is the key to managing your health.