Food Sensitivity Test
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What Are Food Sensitivities?
A food sensitivity can often be confused with food allergies as they both affect the digestive process that keeps your body performing at full capacity. Food sensitivities can often be shown in symptoms that make you feel discomforts, such as stomach pain, abdominal pain, or headaches. As these symptoms can be connected to a myriad of health-related conditions, food sensitivities can sometimes be hard to diagnose. Food sensitivities are when you can’t digest and your body can’t absorb the nutrients of common foods. When these foods reach the intestinal tract, they can get stuck or become fermented, leading to uncomfortable symptoms.
You can develop a food intolerance at any point in your life, and to know exactly what you’re system is sensitive to, it is recommended that you either talk to your doctor or take an at-home food sensitivity test. These tests have become more advanced over the years and typically test anywhere from ten to over 100 food sensitivities.
If you are sensitive to some foods, you probably feel pain or discomfort in your digestive tract. The most common symptoms of food sensitivities are bloating, constipation, cramping, gas, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or diarrhea.
Essentially, food sensitivities affect the body as the food is digested and exits the body, whereas food allergies affect the body as the food enters it. Food sensitivity symptoms usually cease when the food or fermentation exits the body.
Food Sensitivities Vs Food Allergies
Most people think that food sensitivities are mild food allergies, yet allergies are completely different from sensitivities.
If you’re allergic to a food, you’re actually allergic to the proteins in the food. Your immune system overreacts to the proteins, believing these proteins are harmful substances. This type of allergic reaction is an immune response called an IgE-mediated food allergy.
10% of U.S. citizens believe they suffer from food allergies, and 19% of the population merely believe they have food allergies (when they probably are simply suffering from sensitivities).
The most common symptoms of food allergies include difficulty breathing, itching, hives, blue skin, swelling, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Allergy testing can only be completed by a healthcare provider or allergist. This type of testing checks for Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies via a skin prick. When the body comes into contact with allergens, it may go into anaphylaxis (a possibly life-threatening situation), so you’ll always want to take this test at a doctor’s office.
Types of Food Sensitivities
Sensitivities and allergies share some similarities, including the long lists of foods they include. Like those that suffer from food allergies, people with sensitivities struggle with dairy, eggs, and shellfish.
The good news is that at-home food sensitivity test kits can check for dozens of sensitivities — just with a few drops of blood.
What are the Most Common Food Sensitivities?
According to Emmy Ludwig, MD, a board-certified Gastroenterologist, the top 10 food sensitivity categories include:
Dairy - Animal milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and ice cream
Eggs - Egg yolks and egg whites
Seeds and Nuts - Almonds, chia seeds, cashews
Shellfish - Clams, lobster, oysters, and shrimp
Grains - Brown rice, gluten, and wheat
Fruits - Apples, strawberries, and pineapple
Legumes - Peanuts (yes, this is not a nut), green beans, soybean
Meat - Beef, chicken, and pork
Vegetables - Broccoli, spinach, and mushrooms
Spices - Oregano, coffee, and cola
Causes of Food Sensitivity
The most common causes of food sensitivities are when your body has a chemical reaction to eating a particular food or drink. It is not an immune response, which can be confusing when trying to determine if you have intolerances to food or are allergic to certain foods.
Food intolerance has been associate with asthma, chronic fatigue, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Symptoms of Food Sensitivity
It can be somewhat challenging to tell the difference between a food sensitivity and a food allergy, especially if you don’t know you’re allergic to a certain food. Food sensitivities or intolerances are usually related to the amount of food you consume and they may not even occur until that threshold is crossed.
The symptoms of food sensitivities can include:
Stomach or abdominal pain
Headache or migraine
Burning sensations on the skin
Tightness across the face, neck, or chest
It is important to keep in mind that if you’re eating a specific food and you recognize one, or more of the above signs occurring that it might be time to call your doctor.
Types of Food Sensitivity Tests
There are two ways to get a food sensitivity test, including visiting a lab for a blood draw and ordering an at-home food sensitivity test kit. Both provide accurate results when it comes to detecting food sensitivities, one you can simply take at home while the other requires an in-person lab appointment (and a specialist referral).
At-Home Food Sensitivity Test
Most food sensitivity tests take a sample of blood via a finger prick. Simply collect the blood droplet sample according to the instructions, mail your sample to the lab, and get the results in a few days.
Lab technicians check each sample to determine if it contains the Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody.
Companies such as CRI Genetics and Vitagene take a saliva swab sample and provide the likelihood of developing food sensitivities based on your genetics.
When you receive your results, you’ll see each food rated on a scale of zero to three. Zero indicates normal reactivity while three indicates high reactivity to each food. Higher IgG reactivity doesn’t mean you’re sensitive to the food; it simply means there’s a high chance you’ll have a sensitivity.
In order to determine if you have a sensitivity, you’ll want to do a food elimination diet. Most experts recommend removing all foods that you test at a two or higher from your diet for several weeks and slowly incorporating specific foods back into your diet, one-by-one.
You’ll want to wait a week or two before incorporating different foods into your diet, so you don’t confuse the adverse reactions of one food with another.
Food sensitivities may result in more intense symptoms after you have cleared your system of them; you’ll want to try this elimination diet under the care of your physician.
Your dietician or doctor may recommend getting a lab test (especially if you may be suffering from food allergies in addition to sensitivities). The lab will collect a blood sample and analyze it to detect IgE antibodies or IgG antibodies.
Before heading to a lab, you’ll probably need to get a referral from your doctor. You’ll need to make an in-person appointment with your general practitioner or an appointment with an online doctor. After ruling out other conditions, your doctor will provide a referral to a local lab and testing site. Simply make an appointment at the labs, show up for your blood draw, and contact your doctor for your results.
What is an At-Home Food Sensitivity Test?
An at-home food sensitivity test is an excellent source of knowledge for finding out which foods your body can and can’t digest properly. These tests measure your body’s IgG antibody (immune) response to certain foods and when paired with a temporary elimination diet, may help you figure out what’s causing your symptoms.
Many at-home testing companies also give you actionable next step suggestions for the best ways to eliminate foods from your diet, and some companies, like EverlyWell will also set you up with a member of their care team to help you navigate ways to feel better.
How to Take an At-Home Food Sensitivity Test
At-home-testing-kits require a bodily fluid sample, such as blood, urine, or spit. Most food sensitivity tests ask for a blood sample, as your blood is most likely to give the most accurate measurement.
How many at-home food sensitivity tests work in three easy steps:
Order your kit online--it will be delivered directly to your doorstep a couple of days later
Collect your sample at home, then mail it to a certified lab for analysis
Get your results and actionable next steps
Benefits of Getting Tested for Food Sensitivities
In our honest opinion, getting tested for food sensitivities has a bunch of benefits. A few key benefits include:
Have a healthy gut
Make lifestyle changes
All joking aside, once you’ve done away with the foods you’re sensitive to, you should start to feel better in no time. Yes, some of those foods might have been your favorite, but after realizing that eating your mom’s pork meatballs was the culprit for your constant bloat and skin irritation, you now have the power to take control of how your insides feel.
Have a Healthy Gut
Having a healthy gut is more important than most people realize. Your gut helps you digest foods, weed out foreign pathogenic bacteria, and has the power to make huge shifts in your mood. While it’s not possible to go back in time, it is possible to start your journey to more healthy living by giving your gut a fighting chance to be at its peak performance.
Make Lifestyle Changes
Once you know which foods are causing you discomfort and once you’ve been able to eliminate them from your diet, you may be able to make lifestyle changes that you’ve been wanting to focus more on but couldn’t due to the constant discomfort you were feeling.
Many people decide to make such lifestyle changes as:
Starting a new exercise routine
Drinking less alcohol
Eating nutritious foods and taking supplements
Benefits of At-Home Food Sensitivity Testing Kits
There are plenty of reasons that you would choose to order an at-home food sensitivity kit instead of heading to an in-person provider. The most common reasons include:
Less Expensive Than In-Person Testing
Most at-home food sensitivity kits cost less than in-person testing services. This is because at-home kits remove the cost of brick-and-mortar locations. Since all services provided at the doctor’s office or lab can be performed remotely, this cuts down on staffing and facility costs.
More Comfortable Than In-Person Testing
At-home food sensitivity test kits allow you to provide a sample in the comfort of your own home. With these test kits, you won’t need to travel far and wide to get to a facility.
Simply order your test kit, provide your sample when you’re ready, and ship your kit back to the provider. This option is also ideal for anyone who is mobility-impaired or anyone concerned about contracting COVID.
Available to Anyone in the U.S.
One of the biggest downsides to traveling to in-person clinics is that you need to travel to an in-person clinic. If you live in a city, this may mean taking public transportation or driving in traffic.
If you live in an extremely rural area of the U.S., this may mean commuting to a facility that is hours away and possibly staying overnight in a hotel room before making the trip home. Even if you happen to live near a facility, it may not be the facility you want to visit.
Food sensitivity tests simply test for food sensitivities. If you suffer from bloating, gas, diarrhea, stomach pain, or nausea after eating certain foods, you may have food sensitivities. While this condition isn’t life-threatening, it can reduce your quality of life over time and often lead to other chronic conditions.
Discover the symptoms of food sensitivities, what foods are common offenders, and how to get tested for these sensitivities.
What Don’t Food Sensitivity Tests Detect?
Food sensitivity tests simply test for the above list of common food sensitivities. These tests do not test for food allergies. You’ll want to head to your doctor’s office to get a skin prick test to determine if you’re allergic to certain foods.
If you’re worried you might be lactose intolerant, you’ll also want to head to your doctor’s office, as dairy sensitivity and dairy allergies aren’t the same medical conditions as lactose intolerance.
Patients allergic to dairy may suffer from life-threatening symptoms, whereas those that are lactose intolerant will simply experience discomfort, pain, and bloating. Dairy sensitivities aren’t as serious as dairy allergies, either.
You’ll need to get tested separately for dairy sensitivities, dairy allergies, and lactose intolerance.
These tests also don’t test for celiac disease; they simply test for wheat sensitivities, which are different from a gluten allergy. If you want to get tested for celiac disease, you’ll need to order a separate test as well.
Food Sensitivity Treatment
What happens if your test results come back positive for possible food sensitivities and you’ve isolated which foods cause gastrointestinal issues? Obviously, you’ll want to avoid the foods that you’re sensitive to; you’ll also want to treat any lingering symptoms.
You can buy dietary supplements and enzymes to help treat symptoms (especially if you’re removing vitamin-rich foods from your diet). Companies like HUM sell supplements that reduce the symptoms of food sensitivities, such as bloating and gas.
Is Food Sensitivity Testing Secure?
Food sensitivity testing is extremely secure. Companies like EverlyWell are HIPAA compliant and store data securely with bank-grade encryption software to ensure you’re the only one that knows about your diagnosis.
Companies do not sell, share, or exchange your information. Most companies do not label vials or samples with patient names — only barcodes and serial numbers.
If you suspect you suffer from food sensitivities, you should get tested as soon as possible. The sooner you know what’s causing your symptoms, the sooner you can start treatment. At-home test kit companies have made it very easy to get tested from the comfort of your own home.