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What Is an At-Home Food Sensitivity Test and Should You Take One?

It might be tempting, but the results can be inaccurate
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You might have seen an at-home food sensitivity test on an influencer’s Instagram story. Maybe you saw an ad for one pop up on your Facebook page. So what exactly is a food sensitivity test? And is it necessary to order and take one if you’re showing symptoms of intolerance after eating certain foods?

First, let’s go over what a food sensitivity is. Different from a food allergy, which can be life-threatening, a sensitivity to a certain food will leave you feeling uncomfortable. In other words, you can eat certain foods and your body might not tolerate them well, but it wouldn’t cause a severe reaction the way an allergy might.

Here’s an easy way to think about it: a food allergy is a response from your immune system, whereas a food sensitivity is a response from your digestive system.

Some of the symptoms of food intolerance include nausea, vomiting, gas, cramps, bloating, diarrhea, headaches and irritability.

So, if you’re showing these symptoms after drinking milk, following a gluten-heavy meal or after eating a bowl of fruit high in fructose, you might think that taking a food sensitivity test will make you aware of which specific foods are causing your body such distress.

A food sensitivity test is a test you can take at home that will collect a blood sample from a finger prick to determine your body’s production of immunoglobulin G (IgG). Immunoglobulin G is an antibody that your body produces to fight bacterial and viral infections.

After you ship your blood sample back to the company you bought the kit from, you’ll get your results online within days. The process sounds like an easy way to determine which foods to cut out of your diet, but the tests may not be as accurate as you’d think.

There is a lack of evidence that food sensitivity tests work, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, because the tests have not been proven to effectively identify intolerances or allergies. IgG antibodies are a normal bodily response to food intake that can measure tolerance or memory, according to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This means, if you test the reactivity of such antibodies after ingesting something, the response could mean that you simply eat that food more regularly, not that you have an intolerance.

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If you are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms and are looking for the best way to manage them or alleviate them, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor first. After talking about your symptoms with your primary physician, he or she may refer you to an allergist or registered dietitian. From there, you can work together with your healthcare provider to discuss the next steps in getting your gut health back on track.