Person collecting finger prick blood sample at home for Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test

Food Sensitivity: A Registered Dietitian tells us what we should know

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It’s no secret that there’s been a shift in the way people tend to their health and wellness needs. Cycling classes are taking place inside apartments, you can chat with doctors through video calls, and at-home lab tests are becoming more popular than ever. But, with the popularity of the latter comes more options and with more options, it can feel difficult to sift through the noise.

You know what your health and wellness needs are better than anyone else. That’s why we’re here to help provide clarity as you journey on that path. By holding our Food Sensitivity test to the same standards as other at-home tests that have already helped millions of people screen for conditions ranging from diabetes to colon cancer, you can worry about one thing — getting started on feeling your best.

If you’re curious about whether certain foods in your diet may be causing uncomfortable symptoms, you may want to know more about what exactly food sensitivity testing can do for you. So, we’ve brought in an expert to break it down. Here’s what Nicole Lindel, registered dietitian and Everlywell advisor, shared:

Who should take this test?

If your regular diet has been leading to bloating, migraines, headaches, indigestion, gastrointestinal distress, or stomach pain and you want to narrow down the foods that may be causing the trouble to guide a two-part elimination diet, the Food Sensitivity Test can be your ally in doing just that.

How does food sensitivity testing work and what will my results tell me?

The test we offer works by measuring your body’s IgG immune response to 96 common foods. By rating your body’s reactivity to each food on a scale of 0-3, you’ll understand how to prioritize the foods that may be flagged in results. Then, by implementing a two-part elimination diet, you’ll be able to further pinpoint the foods that may be causing your symptoms. There is clinical research that supports using food sensitivity testing this way.

Remember, the Food Sensitivity Test Everlywell offers is not diagnostic and is not intended to be a substitute for consulting a healthcare professional.

How do I select a trustworthy test?

You’ll want to be sure that the test clearly defines what it measures and that it’s backed by peer-reviewed research. It should also test levels of IgG antibodies — which is a standard, well-established technique used by thousands of labs. (A short list of peer-reviewed journal articles that support IgG food sensitivity testing can be found here).

The test you’re interested in should have claims that align with the research that supports it. For example, there are several peer-reviewed studies that show IgG-based food sensitivity testing is useful when used to guide a two-part elimination diet for a specific range of symptoms. If a test promises diagnostic results for a long laundry list of symptoms, it might be too good to be true.

Food sensitivity, food allergies, food intolerances — what’s the difference? Do the Food Sensitivity test results reflect food allergies or intolerance?

There’s a lot of confusion around the difference between food sensitivity and food allergies. Here’s a quick breakdown: A food allergy is commonly associated with a different antibody, IgE, whereas food sensitivities may be discovered by an IgG-guided two-part elimination diet. Food allergies tend to have a more rapid onset time compared to sensitivities and are often more severe in nature.

Unlike food allergies, food sensitivities don’t always cause symptoms to appear as soon as you eat the problem food. Instead, you might have symptoms hours or days after eating that food. This is what can make it hard to connect specific foods to the symptoms you’re experiencing.

The Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test measures the body's IgG reactivity to 96 foods and when coupled with a two-part elimination diet, it can be helpful in identifying potential food sensitivities. This is not a test for food allergies.

If you suspect uncomfortable symptoms like sneezing and itchy throat may be due to indoor and/or outdoor allergens, you may want to try Everlywell Indoor & Outdoor allergy tests.

How should food sensitivity testing be used?

In addition to information about your body’s IgG immune response, you’ll be given a tailored report and suggestions about what to do next, as well as the tools to help guide you along your two-part elimination diet. You’ll also be able to attend a live webinar led by a healthcare professional to learn more about your results and have any questions answered. Don’t forget to share your learnings with your physician as this is an important part of any testing journey, whether your test is happening in a clinic, a hospital, or at home.

What should I do after my test?

Two-part elimination diets are considered to be the gold standard for helping to determine food sensitivities. In an elimination diet, you temporarily remove specific foods that you suspect could be causing symptoms. After a period of time, you then reintroduce the “suspect foods” back into your diet in isolation to see if those foods are connected to the symptoms you are experiencing.

Here’s where Everlywell comes in: Without guidance, this process can take several months to a year. So by narrowing down the list of possible offending foods so that people can start feeling better sooner, the Food Sensitivity Test helps expedite that piece of the puzzle.

It’s important to remember that this isn’t a forever diet. Reintroducing the suspected foods is just as important, since not all foods that show reactivity may be connected to a clinical symptom.

You’ll want to share your results with your doctor or healthcare professional such as a registered dietitian, since dietary changes should not be undertaken without guidance from a professional. By seeking out a registered dietitian familiar with elimination diets and food sensitivities, you’ll be able to review your results in even more detail.

Where can I find more resources?

If you want to know even more about the Food Sensitivity Test, taking a look through this toolkit is a great place to get started. You can also check out details about the two-part elimination diet process, access a food substitution guide, and read up on more frequently asked questions.

To learn more about at-home lab testing and the science behind it, please visit our science page for more information.

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