Food sensitivities can make you miserable and affect your overall health negatively.
Food allergies tend to be obvious. A food allergy can be fatal, but even if it’s not, the symptoms tend to be obvious and severe.
Food sensitivities, on the other hand, are not as obvious. In some cases, people have reacted poorly to a certain food they eat regularly for so long they consider their reaction normal. This makes it challenging for some people to determine whether they have a food sensitivity.
How do I know if I have food sensitivities?
Food sensitivities tend to trigger symptoms that, while not necessarily severe, make you uncomfortable. Some of the most common symptoms of food sensitivities include:
When picking our top home food sensitivity tests, we compared the biggest companies on a number of factors, including:
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EverlyWell offers one of the most popular food sensitivity blood tests on the market. With their basic test, you can measure your IgG immune response to 96 different foods, and 204 with the comprehensive test.
The kit includes everything you’ll need to submit a small blood sample, including single-use lancets for pricking your finger – making it close to painless. Your results offer you an easy to read food sensitivity scale, starting at normal, to mild, moderate, and high intolerance levels.
Using bioresonance technology, 5Strands is able to analyze a hair sample to test your food reactions to 600 different items. Some of the foods that are tested for include seafood, proteins, nuts, fruits, and alcohol. Additionally, the test will check your tolerance to artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and additives.
This is great if you’re trying to narrow down the foods that you should include in an elimination diet. This is a diet where you stop consuming certain foods to see if any food-related symptoms you’re experiencing are affected. 5Strands even includes an elimination diet guide to help you through the process.
EverlyWell’s Food Sensitivity Comprehensive Test is more thorough than its basic kit. The test checks your IgG reactivity to a wide range of food items, 204 in total. IgG antibodies are released when you eat foods that cause an immune response. This test will check what food antigens your body is reacting to.
The food sensitivity kit measures your results on a class scale of zero to three. Class zero indicates that you’re having a normal level of reactivity to a food item, class two is a mild reaction, and class three means a severe reaction. This can be helpful to determine exactly which foods you should stop eating and the foods you don’t need to worry about when beginning an elimination diet.
This food intolerance test by HomeDNA utilizes a simple cheek swab to figure out whether or not you’re genetically predisposed to react to common irritants. Not only do they test your sensitivity levels to foods like nuts, lactose, gluten, eggs, soy, shellfish, and cow milk protein, but the test looks into your reactivity to pet dander and histamine as well.
Once your sample is analyzed, HomeDNA follows up by providing you with diet, lifestyle, and supplement tips. These tips give you some actionable steps you can take to improve your overall health, all from your DNA!
MightyDNA is another company that offers a cheek swab based food sensitivity test. Using your DNA, their team of Ph.D. geneticists run a SNP genotype assay to determine if you're intolerant to many common foods and irritants.
The DNA test checks for sensitivities to lactose, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol. The kit comes with everything you need to take, and submit, your buccal sample, including step-by-step instructions, a sterile swab, transport tube, and prepaid return envelope.
With GenoPalate’s Health & Nutrition Genetic Profile for Food Sensitivities test, you’ll not only learn about the foods you should be avoiding, but also the items you should be eating more of. This test will tell you about the foods you’re sensitive to, your ideal nutrient profile, and more than 85 foods that could be beneficial for your genetic profile.
For your nutrient profile, GenoPalate tests for more than 20 nutrients, such as fat, carbohydrates, vitamin D, and fiber, and tells you how much of each is ideal for your given genes. All of your data is stored in their secure database, and is never sold to any third parties.
Like EverlyWell’s sensitivity test, BodyHealth IQ’s test uses a blood sample to test your IgG and IgA immune response to food antigens. While slightly more invasive, the results from a blood sample tend to be more accurate than those from a hair or cheek swab test.
Your results are easy to understand and can be printed for sharing with your primary healthcare provider. It’s even possible to arrange a consultation with one of BodyHealth IQ’s experts, but this may cost you an additional fee.
Now that you have a solid list of great food sensitivity tests, it’s time to pick the best one for you. This may seem a little overwhelming at first, but narrowing down the best test for your needs can be done fairly easily.
Each test, while similar, has something unique to offer. For example, EverlyWell offers a comprehensive test that gives you accurate results for up to 204 different foods and not too much else. If your goal is to check if you’re sensitive to one of the hundreds of foods they test for, then this is a great option.
The best and most accurate food sensitivity test is an elimination diet. It requires no special equipment and, for the most part, it costs nothing. You simply stop eating all of the foods you suspect could trigger sensitivity or eliminate foods that are common culprits.
The trouble with an elimination diet is that it takes time and it’s no fun. Eating just a few foods for several days or weeks is boring. It’s challenging to come up with recipes that stimulate your appetite when the foods you’re eating are “boring.” And since you must re-add foods one at a time, it takes forever to get to a varied diet you enjoy.
With an elimination diet, you’ll know what your trigger foods are, but it’ll take you a while to get that knowledge.
This is why so many people opt for a lab test that helps them identify their sensitivities. The tests available include:
This category includes both Mediator Release Test (MRT) and Antigen Leukocyte Cellular Antibody Test (ALCAT) tests. They assess changes in your white blood cells when exposed to food certain antigens.
These tests evaluate your levels of IgG antibodies. They’re most often used to find the causes of symptoms such as IBS and migraines. They are most accurate when the lab performs side-by-side duplicate testing.
Muscle response testing, provocation tests, and electrodermal screening are also food sensitivity tests. They require more time than tests that rely on a single blood draw and they are not considered as valid as other types of tests.
Food sensitivity tests may help identify food sensitivities, but factors affect the validity of the test results. Additionally, sensitivities might shift over time. These tests are more convenient than following an elimination diet, but few have been compared in controlled, published studies. Your best bet, if you suspect you have food sensitivities, is to discuss your options with your doctor. At least this way, you’ll know you are trying the right type of test.
There are a few things you can do to deal with food sensitivities and allergies. Identifying and eliminating the culprit foods from your diet is the best way to improve your health. It’s also a great time to improve your gut health, so your body is running at optimal capacity.
An elimination diet is one of the best ways to determine if you have a food sensitivity.
In an elimination diet, you stop eating all foods that could be triggering a reaction.
After your body “detoxes,” (usually about two to three weeks), you gradually add foods back into your diet one at a time. This way you’ll notice when your body reacts. If you return to a food for several days or a week or more and you feel fine, chances are it’s not a trigger.
Most elimination diets take about five to six weeks, but it depends on your specific situation. Some conditions take longer to clear up after you eliminate it from your diet. If you’re going to try an elimination diet, it’s important to customize it to your specific needs so you don’t put yourself through the inconvenience only to learn nothing from the experience.
Once you return foods to your diet, watch for symptoms including:
The foods eliminated during this type of diet include a wide range of options. Some will come as no surprise because they aren’t healthy, but others might surprise some people. It’s important to remember that even the healthiest of foods can be problematic for some people.
Foods eliminated during this type of diet include:
The completion of an elimination diet is a great opportunity to restore gut health. You’ve identified problematic foods and can avoid them. You can also add restorative foods into your diet for a complete overhaul. Other lifestyle changes benefit gut health, too.
To improve gut health, try:
Adding plenty of polyphenol-rich foods to your diet that are anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and antimicrobial.
Somewhat. They are a great starting point for recognizing food sensitivities. Or, if you’ve done an elimination diet and your results weren’t entirely clear, you can use an at-home food sensitivity test to confirm what you found.
The cost of a food sensitivity test varies a great deal depending on how comprehensive and reliable it is. Most tests cost between $200 and $1000. Insurance rarely covers the cost of these tests.
Very rarely. These tests do not provide the accurate results you get from food allergy tests. Many are at-home tests, so you handle gathering and submitting your sample on your own after you’ve paid for a test kit.
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