Do At-Home Food Sensitivity Tests Really Work?

An at-home food sensitivity test is different from a doctor-provided allergy test.

Image credit: Creative

If you’re dealing with a strange, gassy stomach problem and turn to the internet to search for symptoms, chances are your social media feeds are adorned with ads for at-home food sensitivity testing. I have.

Marketed as a convenient way to check your stomach without going to the doctor, this method is especially appealing to those who want answers but don’t have a lot of time.
Popular brands include Everlywell, myLAB Box and YorkTest Laboratories. These tests typically cost between $100 and $250 and come with instructions on how to take the test yourself and read the results.
“these are [tests] Spora Health founder and clinical development director Terrell Smith, M.D., Ph.D.
After you receive your test kit in the mail, swab your mouth or take a small blood sample and send it back to your company’s laboratory. Results will be emailed back within a few weeks.
But do these tests ‌TRUEwork?
Here, learn more about whether an at-home food sensitivity test is worth trying and what experts recommend if you have a true food sensitivity.


If you experience side effects from eating certain foods, such as digestive problems, rashes, swelling, or anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions that include swelling in your throat), call your doctor right away or call your nearest emergency room. Visit the treatment room.

What is food sensitivity?

Before you spit into a test tube or take a blood sample for these at-home food sensitivity tests, it helps to know what a food sensitivity really is.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAI), food sensitivities occur when a person has difficulty digesting certain foods.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, symptoms of food sensitivity include:
  • gas
  • stomach ache
  • bloating
  • diarrhea
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • Malaise
  • headache and/or brain fog
  • Acne or rash
This is different from food intolerance (where the body lacks the digestive enzymes needed to break down ingredients like lactose and fructose) or food allergies, where the immune system builds up an antibody response to certain foods. says Kien Vuu, MD. , a California-based performance and longevity physician.
Food allergies can affect the whole body, causing “hives, shortness of breath, [experience] Throat blockage,” Dr. Vuu said, requiring urgent medical attention.
In other words, the immune system is not involved in food sensitivities or intolerances, butteethrelated to allergies. Although sensitivities primarily cause only digestive problems, Dr. Vu says, sensitivities to things like lactose and gluten can cause symptoms other than digestive upset, such as fatigue, migraines, and joint pain. There is a possibility

How does at-home food susceptibility testing work?

We know food sensitivities can cause stomach troubles, but what is actually going on inside your body when you have food sensitivities? That’s what these tests claim to measure. Thing.

Home food sensitivity testing detects levels of immunoglobulins, or proteins that act as antibodies, in the bloodstream. According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), these proteins fight off germs such as viruses and bacteria.
Specifically, these tests detect immunoglobulin G (IgG). It is the most abundant immunoglobulin in the bloodstream, according to NLM.
For example, your results may show that your IgG is high when you eat a variety of foods such as milk, bread, and broccoli. This may encourage you to cut that food from your diet.
Problem with this? IgG levels rise after eating ‌Anyfood. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sensitive to them, says Dr. Vuu.
“High IgG levels after eating certain foods are not necessarily bad,” he says. “That means you’ve been exposed to it. Currently, there’s no clear correlation in the medical community between elevated IgG levels and food sensitivities,” he adds.
That’s true. According to AAAI, studies supporting the use of food susceptibility tests are often outdated in disreputable journals and do not use the tests in fact there isnobodyTest for intolerances and sensitivities according to AAAI.

How is it different from a doctor’s examination?

There are no IgG-equivalent food sensitivity tests offered by allergists or primary care physicians, says Dr. Vuu.

Instead, doctors use tests that detect immunoglobulin E (IgE).
When you have a true food allergy, your immune system overreacts to that food by producing IgE. This increase is what causes allergic reactions, according to AAAI.
IgE tests typically require multiple “skin pricks” or blood samples to identify the type of food you are allergic to.


There are IgE tests you can do at home, but Dr. Vuu doesn’t recommend them because the results are difficult to read yourself. “If you’re not trained as an MD, you can get false positives,” he says.
Although at-home food sensitivity tests cannot detect true food sensitivities, there is at least one benefit to trying one of these tests if you are interested and your budget allows. It can be a way to start a conversation with your doctor about health.
If you already have the results, don’t be afraid to submit them to your doctor, says Dr. Smith.
“We wouldn’t be upset if you brought this information up,” he says.
Together we can discuss what the results tell us and what they don’t tell us. This opens the door to deeper conversations about symptoms and plans to address them.

What are the risks of home food sensitivity testing?

It is not surprising that testing without sufficient scientific evidence has more risks than benefits.

“Many patients come to me for home testing and rule out almost everything but water,” says Dr. Vuu. He warns that this is too drastic an approach.
According to Tamar Samuels, R.D., a New York-based nutritionist, excluding entire food groups because tests detected high IgG when eating them skewed our relationship with foods, especially over the long term. , co-founder of Culina Health, which can lead to harmful eating disorder trends.
“For example, when you cut out foods such as wheat, you lose fiber that is important for gut health,” she says. sometimes.”


If you think you have an eating disorder or orthorexia (a type of eating disorder characterized by an obsession with eating “clean” or nutritious foods), talk to your doctor or visit the National Eating Disorders Association. (NEDA) helpline.

Misunderstanding of test results

“These tests are expensive and give misleading results,” says Dr. Vuu. “Without a doctor’s supervision, he could cut things up unnecessarily.”

That said, not everyone feels comfortable seeing a doctor due to factors such as anxiety, lack of health insurance, language barriers, and systemic racial injustice. You may be more susceptible to health “tools” advertised online.
But according to the American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics, test results shared only online or through an app may not give the full picture of results. People may even decide to self-medicate their condition with supplements and medications they don’t need.
Additionally, you may rely on the Internet to interpret your results, which can lead to misinformation and anxiety if you don’t know where to look.

Image credit: Creative

According to St. Luke’s Health, when you eliminate foods from your diet, you can miss essential nutrients needed for optimal gut (and overall) health.

For example, cutting out dairy when you’re not actually sensitive can cause a vitamin D deficiency. I have.
This is why it is important to eliminate foods only under medical supervision.

How are food sensitivities actually treated?

Although there are no official tests to determine food sensitivities, there are a variety of ways doctors can help detect and treat food sensitivities.

Gastroenterologists can determine gluten, lactose, or other food intolerances through an endoscopy, Dr. Smith says. However, most intolerances can be determined by your primary care physician if you bring a log of your symptoms.
Your doctor may suggest testing for food intolerances, such as lactose, fructose, or sucrose intolerance, called the University of Michigan Health Hydrogen Breath Test.
Before the test, your doctor will ask you to drink a solution of lactose, fructose, and sucrose.Then, you will blow into the test tube to check the levels of hydrogen and methane gas. This is a by-product of an intolerance by Health at the University of Michigan.
The results will determine a course of treatment, which may include an elimination diet.
An elimination diet is an important part of determining if you have food sensitivities, but reintroducing these foods is what gives the answer, says Samuels.
Adding the eliminated food back into your diet can help you track your symptoms to determine if that particular food is the culprit.
  • Eliminate all foods that you think are causing your symptoms.
  • Reintroduce one food at a time.
  • Supplement with other types of food. For example, if you’ve eliminated bread and wheat, try adding other complex whole grains such as rice and quinoa to your diet.
  • Keep a food diary and report your symptoms and findings to your doctor.


Always try an elimination diet under the guidance of a doctor or registered dietitian. They can give suggestions on what to truncate and when to reintroduce items.
If you’re sensitive to certain foods, you can try over-the-counter medications called digestive enzymes, Samuels says. I can do it.
Popular brands include GlutenEase (Amazon, $24.22) and Lactaid (Amazon, $12.46). Both make it easier for the stomach to break down gluten and lactose, respectively, says Samuels.
There is also a digestive enzyme called alpha-galactosidase (sold as Beano, $16.95) that helps digest roughage such as beans and raw vegetables.


According to Johns Hopkins, not everyone needs to take digestive enzymes. Additionally, digestive enzymes are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Always consult a registered dietitian or doctor before starting any new supplement.
If you have a food sensitivity and have eliminated that food from your diet, there are supplements you can take to replace the missing nutrients.
According to Samuels, doctors often recommend the following, but only for people who are really deficient (otherwise too much can cause problems):
At-home food sensitivity testing does not work as they claim.
These tests work by detecting IgG levels, but that information alone cannot accurately determine which foods you are sensitive to. It will tell you briefly what foods you have recently eaten and been exposed to.
Additionally, these tests are expensive and the results can be difficult to understand without a doctor’s supervision. That’s why many experts like Dr. Vuu and Samuels don’t recommend home susceptibility testing for their patients.
If you suspect that you have certain food sensitivities, we recommend that you consult your doctor or registered dietitian and follow a professionally controlled elimination diet.

About the author


Leave a Comment