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Food Sensitivity Tests: Should I get one?

At home food sensitivity and allergy tests have become increasingly popular. They are available in drugstores an online under various brand names. Some require hair samples, saliva samples or blood tests--but are they accurate?

To date (i.e. when this article was written), the accuracy of at home sensitivity and food intolerance tests is highly varied. The results that they yield are not recognized as a clinical diagnosis by themselves. Contrarily, positive food allergy results obtained at home must be confirmed in a doctor's office.

What are the differences between a food allergy and a food intolerance/sensitivity?

Food intolerance and/or sensitivity: not an allergy; symptoms vary and are not IgE mediated; symptoms might start several hours after eating a meal; these can change over time

Examples of symptoms: diarrhea, bloating, gas, skin changes (this is not an exhaustive list)

The most common food sensitivity tests that we see in our practice are results that test IgG mediated responses to foods using a finger prick test completed at home. It is important for you to know that it is normal for your body to make higher amounts of IgG in response to foods you eat on a frequent basis. This does not always indicate a food intolerance or sensitivity is present. We discourage our clients from relying upon this information solely when approaching us for dietary advice/recommendations.

Food allergy: a severe immune response to a food (the most common food sources include milk, fish, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, shellfish) usually detected by a test at your doctor's office--these are IgE mediated.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, you should follow-up with your doctor if you have food sensitivities detected at home with home testing. This is because of false positive results.

What's the bottom line?

We highly encourage anyone suffering from a suspected food allergy or intolerance to seek help from their medical doctor first before purchasing an at home kit. Largely because of the accuracy and precision that a physician will use to help troubleshoot your symptoms, keep in mind that an office visit to your doctor may be covered by your insurance whereas your home testing kit (ranging in cost from $150-200/kit) is not covered by insurance.

We are seasoned in helping our clients (both adults and kids) translate testing results into practical and balanced nutrition plans. If you need us, reach out!


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