Updated on: August 31, 2020

Can a DNA test help you determine if you have a food allergy?

Maybe.

A DNA food sensitivity test is one of the ways you can use a DNA test to learn more about yourself. Whether you think you have a food intolerance or you are fairly certain you don’t and you’d like to confirm, test results can help you get a clearer picture of where you stand with food allergies.

You Can Take a DNA Food Allergy Test – But Insurance Likely Won’t Cover It

If you’re curious about food sensitivities and you’re considering a blood test, you’ve probably already figured out you’ll be paying for your test on your own. For most people, food allergies are not life threatening. Obviously, there are exceptions to this and some people must avoid all contact with certain foods and carry an Epi-pen with them in case they are accidentally exposed.

But for others, their allergy is more a food sensitivity, which is not an official medical diagnosis. Someone can have a sensitivity to a certain food without having a full-blown allergic reaction. Unfortunately, some DNA and blood test companies boast they can help you identify these sensitivities and help you deal with allergic reactions when their ability to do so is questionable.

What’s the Difference between an Allergy and an Intolerance or Sensitivity?

Foods you are allergic to trigger your immune system when you’re exposed. Extra antibodies are produced and you experience symptoms that range from hives to potentially fatal breathing problems.

DNA Food Sensitivity Test 1

Food intolerance doesn’t trigger your immune system like a food allergy. Sensitivities are usually linked to digestive challenges. You might be okay consuming a little bit of a problem food, but eat too much and your digestive system reacts negatively. It’s unpleasant, uncomfortable, and maybe painful, but it probably won’t kill you. Food sensitivity is even less severe and has no official medical definition.

But just because a food intolerance or sensitivity is unlikely to kill you doesn’t mean it isn’t serious.

Over time, your body’s negative reaction to food can cause harm and in some cases, put you at a higher risk for developing potentially fatal diseases. So even if you don’t need to carry an Epi-pen or avoid something completely, it’s still important to know where you stand and make informed decisions about your diet.

How Do DNA Food Sensitivity Tests Work?

Food sensitivity tests evaluate your blood sample and look for a protein called immunoglobulin antibodies. Unlike food allergy tests that look for immunoglobulin E or IgE, sensitivity tests look for IgG. Scientists don’t consider these antibodies to be as reliable when it comes to identifying allergies or sensitivities, but they can show that your body is producing a higher-than-normal level of IgG antibodies after eating certain foods.

Keep in mind, though, everyone produces a certain amount of IgG antibodies after eating, so you shouldn’t assume there’s a sensitivity present if your test shows this result.

Should I Take a DNA Food Sensitivity Test?

There is no official evidence supporting the efficacy of food sensitivity tests or DNA tests to learn about problems with certain foods. You’ll need to pay for the test, but you won’t need a doctor’s referral for an allergy test. If you are curious and would like to explore any potential problems you might have, food sensitivity tests can be a decent and affordable place to begin.

DNA Food Sensitivity Test 2

For example, if you notice you feel off after eating, but you can’t quite put your finger on what’s causing the problem, a food sensitivity test could give you something to think about. If the test were to identify any issues, you could begin tracking how you feel after eating the food in question and at that point, you’d have reason to speak to your doctor about your findings.

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you should take a DNA food sensitivity test. A test isn’t going to confirm anything you don’t already suspect and any results you get should be explored further with your doctor. It’s also important not to eliminate healthy foods from your diet just because a test shows a potential sensitivity. You shouldn’t choose to include foods or eliminate foods solely based on a food sensitivity test. But if you’d like to start a deep-dive into developing a better diet, this type of test could serve as your jumping-off point.

Joel is a writer with a passion for the science of DNA and the power of its manipulation.

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