Got food sensitivities? There are food sensitivity tests for that!
Food sensitivity tests are a wild, Wild West! With so many DIY and at-home options on Dr. Google, it can be overwhelming!
So what is the best food sensitivity test?
Read on to make an informed decision on the best food sensitivity test for your (PLUS: Learn my 7 steps to reverse food sensitivity test results for more food freedom too).
Food Sensitivity Tests: The Worst Options
Ironically, I use very few food sensitivity tests in my clinical practice with my clients!
As a functional medicine practitioner and clinical nutritionist with over 10 years of experience to help clients overcome food sensitivities and food fears, I actually believe many food sensitivity tests can create MORE food rules, fears and FALSE beliefs about what their body can and cannot tolerate.
This is because MOST food sensitivity tests on the market are not 100% accurate at detecting food sensitivities. These 5 “Cons” of Food Sensitivity Testing back it up:
Con #1: NOT Comprehensive
Food sensitivity tests should be comprehensive and test for both IgA and IgG antibody sensitivity responses. Testing BOTH IgA and IgG antibodies provides additional information to foods that may be causing mucosal damage (leaky gut).
Generally speaking, IgA food sensitivity is typically the type of sensitivities that are experienced shortly after consuming a food and that “go away” within 24-48 of that food clearing your system.
IgG food sensitivity is a measure of longer-lasting sensitivities (that may be a bigger hint at a lingering gut issue—like leaky gut or an autoimmune condition).
If a food sensitivity test only measures one of these OR does NOT evaluate them at all (like MRT or Leap), stay away. In addition, many food sensitivity tests out there only measure the “big key players”—like gluten (gliadin), wheat, dairy, peanuts, soy, and shellfish.
As a result, these tests miss other gluten cross-contaminating foods that you actually may be more sensitive to. For example, there are 20 shades of gluten! So if a test only tests for “gliadin” but misses the 20 other shades of gluten, you may miss some key information. And no test actually tests for mycotoxins and pesticides – the real reason why you may still not feel great if you do go gluten free since contaminants remain on most grains, beans, and corn, etc.
Lastly, the majority of food sensitivity tests on the market do not consider this and test your sensitivity to foods in the raw (versus cooked) state.
Do you eat raw chicken? Or raw eggs? Didn’t think so! Your food sensitivity levels will change depending on if a food is cooked or raw.
Con #2: Miss Out on Food Sensitivities
Contrary to popular belief, food sensitivities are different than food intolerances and food allergies which means the testing is different as well! The collection of these three all fall under the umbrella term of an adverse food reaction. Here’s a quick overview each:
- Immune mediated reaction that is generally immediate. Within 30 minutes of food consumption.
- Diagnosed by a blood test or skin prick test.
- Symptoms most often impact the skin, lungs, throat, and GI tract. Anaphylaxis is the most severe reaction of a food allergy.
- No immune reaction, simply due to a lack of an enzyme. For example, lactose intolerance, fructose intolerance, gluten intolerance.
- Experience symptoms generally within a couple of hours.
- Diagnosed by a breath test (lactose, fructose), blood test (gluten intolerance) or signs/symptoms (ie. Reactions to histamine foods)
- Symptoms primarily impact only the digestive tract. For example, IBS, gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, constipation.
- Immune driven reaction that can be immediate or delayed up to 72 hours which makes identifying them difficult.
- Diagnosed by blood test.
- Symptoms can impact any body system—gut, skin, respiratory, sinuses, brain/neurological
Con #3: Not Validated
Research is not always the “end all be all,” but many of the most popular food tests out there (ALCAT test, MRT test, LRA, or ELISA/ACT) unfortunately have very little—if any—research to back their accuracy. Basically these tests work by a machine analyzing your white blood cells in a petri dish when exposed to food antigens in a lab.
Dr. Aristo Vojdani (pioneer of food sensitivity testing, the inventor of IgG food allergy testing itself and an advisor of Cyrex-Labs food testing) has published over 120 peer-reviewed research reports on food sensitivity testing, and said, in his 40-plus years of clinical research he has yet to read a single article to support any of the these methodologies with clinical significance in the literature.
In short: If it’s called ALCAT, MRT, Leap, LRA, or ELISA/ACT, don’t fall for it.
Con #4: Do NOT Give You a Full Picture of Your Gut Microbiome
Although you may come out with a long list of 10-100 foods you are “sensitive to” the bigger question here is WHY ARE YOU SENSITIVE to these foods in the first place?
Often times, the BIGGER reason behind any food intolerance on your report is in your gut—something impeding your digestion or absorption. Do you have a leaky gut? Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth? A fungal overgrowth? Acid imbalances? Slowed gut motility? An autoimmune condition?
While some gut-irritating foods (like conventional gluten, conventional dairy, rancid nuts, and other packaged, processed or chemical-laden foods) CAN equally cause underlying gut issues, often times the reason why you are sensitive to a random assortment of foods (like sweet potatoes, cherries or black pepper) is actually because you have some sort of gut dysfunction going on which REDUCES YOUR ORAL TOLERANCE—not because you are sensitive to the food itself.
In addition, fun fact: did you know that you can often crave foods you are Intolerant to?
This is because the bacteria in your gut are hungry for more of the foods that actually make you more sick in the long run (i.e. brain fog, constipation, bloating, etc.). Since gut bacteria feed off of fermented, rotting, undigested foods, they have a hey-day when you eat foods that you know don’t make you feel great, but for some reason, can’t help yourself from eating them anyway.
Con #5. DON’T Tell You What to “Do Next” (after you get results)
Lastly, an issue most people run into with Food Intolerance testing is that there are no play-by-plays on what to “do next” once you get back your results.
Do you cut out the foods forever? Do results mean there’s no point of return to bananas or sweet potatoes or almonds? Are you one and done—never sensitive to anything else again?
No. No. And no.
Many nutritionists or doctors may help you interpret results and come back with the answer: “Just cut out these foods”—while still missing the issue that we made in point number one—you have an underlying gut issue.
Deeper digging for “underlying imbalances” (like SIBO, intestinal permeability, parasitic or fungal overgrowth, or autoimmunity) may be warranted.
In addition, the response you have on a food sensitivity test may also simply indicate that you are “overdoing” it on a particular food (if you eat the same foods over and over, you can also develop “sensitivities”), and thus, mixing up your diet may help.
Lastly, just because a particular food shows up as a sensitivity does not mean necessarily it’s banned forever (especially if you follow my 3 steps for healing food sensitivities below).
Food Sensitivity Tests: Top Picks
So, with all those cons, are there any “good” food sensitivity tests on the market?
To date, the top 2 clinical food sensitivity tests that I recommend are:
- Cyrex Labs Array 3X, Array 4 and Array 10
- Vibrant America Food Sensitivity Test & Zoomer Tests (Wheat Zoomer, Corn Zoomer, Peanut Zoomer, Dairy Zoomer, etc.)
Both of these reputable companies test for IgG and IgA food sensitivities, evaluate foods in both the cooked and raw state and offer a comprehensive report for consumers.
The best part? They are easy to do! To help clients get the answers they need, I offer 50% off lab testing within my custom programs for my clients. Book a health strategy call today if you are committed to getting answers and solutions fast for you food sensitivities.
The #1 Food Sensitivity Test to Do at Home
And, of course, there is ALWAYS a DIY option at home.
My absolute favorite challenge to test food sensitivities is the “Food Swap Challenge”, followed by the Coca’s Pulse test.
Here’s how it works:
Food Swap Challenge Directions
Step 1: Make a list of your top five foods or meals you eat every day (keep a food log for a day or two if you need to identify these)
Step 2: Replace your top five listed foods or meals for the next 3 days
Step 3: Observe how you feel using a 3-day food log once more.
Step 4: Reintroduce your old favorite foods at the end of 3 days, one by one, to see if you discover any new revelations
Note: The top 5 foods or meals you eat daily are not “bad”…they may just be keeping you stuck from getting more variety into your diet, as well as preventing your from figuring out whether or not you may be intolerant to those foods.
The Top 5 Foods I Eat (Most) Every Day Replacement Foods
- Sweet potato Butternut squash, roasted carrots
- Avocado Coconut butter, avocado mayo, extra virgin olive oil
- Eggs every morning for breakfast Chicken sausage, pastured scrambled egg yolks
- Spinach salad w/ chicken breast & Romaine lettuce wrap w/ fat free dressing chicken thighs & paleo mayo (instead of plain chicken breast)
- Broccoli Roasted zucchini, cauliflower, sautéed chard, kale
Coca’s Pulse Test
The Coca’s Pulse Test is a nutritional therapy evaluation that helps determine any “stress reaction” or imbalances an individual may have. Here’s how to do it.
- Collect a small piece of food you’d like to test for possible food intolerances and/or blood sugar sensitivities (ex. Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, nuts, cheese, rice, tomato, apples, eggs, etc.).
- Take your resting pulse x 1 minute while seated and relaxed.
- Then place the test food in your mouth.
- Salivate it for 30 seconds.
- Retake your resting pulse x 1 minute while seated and relaxed.
If your pulse change by 6 beats or more, it is indicative of a “stress reaction.” You can perform this for as many suspected foods as you like.
Spit out the food you first tested, rinse your mouth with water and spit it out. Always wait until your pulse has returned to your normal or “before” rate before testing another food, drink or supplement. This can take up to several minutes depending on the severity of your reaction. You can test as many foods this way as you like or have time for. Keep in mind that if you smoke or are taking a beta-blocker, calcium-channel blocker or other medication that controls heart rate, you will not get accurate results from this test.
Other Markers of Food Sensitivity & Blood Sugar Imbalance
Beyond a change in pulse, some other markers of food sensitivity that often show up anywhere from 24 to 72 hours include:
- Brain fog or difficulty concentrating
- Bloating and constipation
- Shaky, weakness or lightheadedness
- Skin breakouts or flares
- Shortness of breath
- Broken sleep
- Watery eyes or sinus congestion
- Feeling itchy
- Ringing in ears
Food sensitivities and blood sugar imbalances don’t need to be permanent.
Food sensitivities and blood sugar imbalances can heal with time and a nourishing, gut loving diet. Food sensitivities and blood sugar imbalances often occur because the lining of our intestine is permeated with small holes, allowing undigested proteins or partially-digested food particles to escape into the bloodstream.
This triggers antibodies to attack the foreign particles in the blood. This is called leaky gut. In other cases, a person may have low stomach acid, decreased enzymes, gallbladder congestion, yeast or bacterial overgrowth, or simply a lack of healthy gut bacteria, inhibiting proper digestion altogether.
Sometimes when addressing a food sensitivity and blood sugar imbalances, all it requires is temporarily eliminating the foods in question for 1 to 3 months and rebuilding the gut biome.
When you re-test a food and no longer have an increased pulse, you can safely reintroduce it, but you will need to test it again after one month. If you experience an increased pulse again you have probably added in too much of that food, so swap it out for another month and then try again, eating smaller quantities of that food less frequently.
Let me know how they go!!
5 Strategies to Heal Food Sensitivities Naturally
Ok, phew! We’ve covered A LOT of information here. Book a health strategy call today if you are committed to getting answers and solutions fast for you food sensitivities.
And, check out the next post for my top 7 Strategies to Heal Food Sensitivities Naturally.