Leaps and bounds have been made in the last few decades when it comes to food sensitivity.
As a Gen X’er, I never heard anyone say they were gluten or lactose intolerant until relatively recently.
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They just suffered in silence with stomach aches or other maladies that came with eating foods they had a hard time digesting — they didn’t know what the problem was, and there was no way to diagnose it.
But with the advances in medical and scientific fields, people are able to find out what foods are making them ill and adjust their diets accordingly.
With that being said, there are now tests you can do at home to diagnose your food sensitivities — but are they worth it, and are they accurate?
We decided to try the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test and see what it says about our intolerance of certain fares.
What Is Food Sensitivity
Food sensitivity differs from food allergies in that just being sensitive to something means it’s not life-threatening, whereas a food allergy can be fatal.
Sherry Farzan, MD, allergist and immunologist with North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y, explains that there are food intolerances that are not immune-mediated. Instead, they’re caused by an inability to process or digest a certain food.
Food triggers an intolerance in your digestive tract. This is where your body can’t properly break it down, or your body reacts to a food you’re sensitive to.
For example, lactose intolerance is when your body can’t break down lactose, a sugar found in dairy products.
You may be sensitive or intolerant to a food for a few reasons. These include:
Not having the right enzymes you need to digest a certain food
Reactions to food additives or preservatives like sulfites, MSG, or artificial colors
Pharmacological factors, like sensitivity to caffeine or other chemicals
Sensitivity to the sugars naturally found in certain foods like onions, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts
Symptoms of food sensitivity vary. But the symptoms of intolerance are all digestive-related. These can include:
Gas and bloating
What is Everlywell?
Everlywell is an Austin, Texas-based health-testing company that was established in 2015 and sends in-home testing kits directly to consumers.
Customers take samples themselves using the provided materials and drop them in the mail using prepaid packaging that’s included in the kits.
The company then delivers the results to the testee using a secure online platform.
How Does Everlywell Work?
Order your kit
First, you choose the test you want to take (they offer a wide range of tests – there’s a general wellness section, which has the food sensitivity test – as well as Lyme disease, indoor/outdoor allergies, cholesterol, and sleep and stress tests) and request a kit — your order is reviewed and approved by a board-certified doctor in your state. You then receive it in the mail.
Take your samples
The kit comes with directions and all you need to take samples at home. Depending on the test, you may need to take a blood, stool, saliva, or urine sample.
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Everlywell has several online videos to show you how to take samples correctly at home. They also provide customer support if you have any questions or concerns after you receive your kit.
Send your samples to the lab
Each testing kit comes with a plastic biohazard bag and a prepaid shipping label so you can easily send your samples in for testing. You’ll write your name, collection time, and collection date on the bag.
If you’re taking samples for several tests, you may need to use separate bags. Check that the correct shipping labels are on each package, as not all samples go to the same lab for testing.
Users put the package in a mailbox and Everlywell states the samples usually take about 2-3 days to arrive at labs.
Get your results online
It takes about 5 business days to receive your results, but processing times may vary, and some tests may take longer. You get an email when the results are ready, and you can access the information via your Everlywell account.
Some tests come with telehealth consultations with a doctor and you can also share results with your physician.
How Much Are Everlywell Tests?
The cost of tests vary — however, here’s a price range for each category:
General wellness: $49–$259
Men’s health: $49–$199
Women’s health: $49–$199
Energy and weight: $49–$99
Sexual health: $49–$149
Taking The Test
I took the basic food sensitivity test, which checks reactions to 96 different foods.
There is a more comprehensive one that checks your reaction to 204 foods, but it’s pricier.
You prick your finger to get a blood sample and the lab uses immunoglobulin G (IgG) testing, which is a controversial way to diagnose food sensitivities.
According to PubMed.gov, “The gold standard for diagnosis of immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated food allergy remains the oral food challenge, with serum IgE testing and skin prick testing serving as acceptable alternatives.
“However, the increase in prevalence of food allergy (both physician diagnosed and patient suspected) has led patients to pursue a variety of other alternative diagnostic procedures for suspected food allergy.
“These procedures (IgG testing, electrodermal testing, cytotoxic testing, provocation/neutralization, and applied kinesiology) have largely been unproven and may lead to unnecessary elimination diets.”
My Everlywell Results & Review
When I got my results, let’s just say I was confused.
It says that I’m lactose intolerant — I am not, and have never had a problem with lactose.
It said avocados are not my body’s friend, but I eat them like it’s my job and I’m aiming for a promotion — and not once have I had a problem after eating an avocado.
Another result said I was sensitive to a LOT of fruits, which could be true but I do not eat fruit so we’ll never know.
The one fruit I used to eat and had some not-fun reactions to was blueberries, and it missed that.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Castillo, also took the food sensitivity test and told me she was way underwhelmed.
“The results weren’t helpful at all to me, especially compared to doing an elimination diet or true allergen test with a doctor.
“It missed two things I know for a fact I’m intolerant/sensitive to (walnuts and lactose) and instead told me I’m sensitive to cucumbers, which is bizarre because I have never had any even slight reaction to cucumbers.”
We’re out of strikes so I’m calling a foul ball for our Everlywell review!
Should You Test At Home?
Our results were inaccurate, so we are of the opinion that your hard-earned money would be better spent at an allergist.
However, some people say this test has helped them, so I can’t advise people not to take the food sensitivity test.
It seems easier than ever to self-diagnose some conditions, but I’d be wary — it’s not always accurate.
So be sure to consult with a doctor about your results if you use a home kit so you’re not unnecessarily eliminating nutritious foods.
Have you taken an at-home food sensitivity test and were the results accurate? Tell us in the comments!
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