You might wind up with more questions than answers, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
For as long as I can remember, my stomach has just felt off. Random foods gave me an upset stomach. I’d experience the occasional bout of acid reflux and heartburn—and then some other less-than-pleasant symptoms. Nothing ever seemed severe enough to see a doctor, just enough of a nuisance to wonder if there was something I could easily change at home.
Enter food sensitivity kits: “Food sensitivity tests can give clarity and a starting point in finding answers to challenging symptoms and dietary concerns,” says Lisa Richards, nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet. The most well-known kit on the market, Everlywell, is an at-home test that uses a finger prick blood sample to measure your body’s immune response to 96 or 204 common markers, depending on the test, including gluten, soy, milk and nuts."
Food sensitivity is very different than a food allergy or food intolerance, although the three are often confused. Food allergies are immediate and can range from minor to life-threatening (like a deadly peanut allergy). Food intolerance can occur if you don’t have enough specific enzymes to break down a food (like lactose intolerance). So what are food sensitivities? They contribute to uncomfortable symptoms like stomach issues, acne, headaches, bloating and fatigue.
Everlywell recommends using the results to help you start an elimination diet. That way, you have a good starting point to pinpoint foods that may be giving you trouble. “Elimination diets can be burdensome, especially for those who do not have an actual sensitivity or allergy,” says Richards. “Putting in the work to end with no results can be frustrating, but starting with a sensitivity kit can give those interested in doing an elimination diet a great starting point and help them avoid pointless steps.” Everlywell includes a group or solo discussion with a healthcare professional with the cost of every kit. It's important to keep in mind that a food sensitivity test can’t (and shouldn’t) replace a medical diagnosis.