Food Sensitivity Test: What Is It and Why Do I Need One?
Next Health Staff | | 0 comments
Growing dietary awareness has led many people to wonder about their own reactions to certain foods or food additives. While not everyone has a serious food allergy, many more people probably have one or more food sensitivities: conditions where certain foods cause certain negative symptoms or drawbacks.
To learn whether or not you have a sensitivity, you'll need to take a food sensitivity test. But what are these tests and do you really need them? Let's break down both of these questions now.
Food Sensitivity – What Is It?
More and more people are becoming aware of potential food sensitivities they might suffer from, like gluten. As opposed to an allergy or intolerance, “food sensitivity” is a broader and blanket term that can apply to any type of physiological reaction your body might have to a particular food or substance.
For instance, food sensitivity is not usually as bad as an allergic reaction. But food sensitivities can still result in a number of uncomfortable symptoms like:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Loose stools or diarrhea
- And other symptoms
Put another way, people may experience food sensitivity when a particular type of food doesn't "agree" with their system.
It's likely that a lot of people who are "mildly" allergic to things like dairy or cheese have a food sensitivity to those things, but don't have enough of an adverse reaction to qualify as truly allergic.
Since food sensitivity is almost always marked by discomfort, some are looking for ways to identify foods they may be sensitive to before they get an upset stomach when trying a new dish.
What is a Food Sensitivity Test?
A food sensitivity test is just what it sounds like: a blood test that can, through the use of biomarkers and other biological signals, help to determine which foods you may or may not be sensitive to.
A food sensitivity test can examine your blood for a variety of undetected or not yet experienced food sensitivities. Those sensitivities could, if not taken into account, lead to a variety of:
- Weight gain
- Digestive disorders
- Migraines and similar conditions
- Mood or attention deficit disorders
- Other chronic conditions, particularly those that include chronic inflammation
It may be that many people suffer from mild food sensitivity without even knowing it. This may contribute to a number of chronic illnesses that continue to affect individuals throughout their lives.
Is Food Sensitivity the Same as a Food Allergy?
No. A food sensitivity creates a number of biological disturbances that are not usually as immediate or noticeable as a true allergic reaction. This isn’t to say that they can’t be uncomfortable or overall negative to one’s daily experience and long-term health.
Food allergies result in a severe and usually immediate negative reaction to a particular food or substance. In many cases, allergic reactions can be very dangerous or lethal.
How Do These Tests Work?
Different food sensitivity tests will vary based on their provider and the type of blood work they can perform. For example, NEXT|HEALTH’s food sensitivity test examines how your immune system response to 96 different foods and additives. Furthermore, it measures certain biological reactions through the biomarkers IgA and IgG. These are types of antibodies produced after eating certain types of foods.
But all sensitivity tests rely on the same basic idea: blood work is performed in order to identify potential food sensitivities without an individual having to try out many different food items themselves.
Blood is typically drawn during these tests, then taken to a lab where different biomarkers are located and monitored. A “biomarker” is just a biological marker that can be anything from a protein to a type of cellular vesicle to any other compound that a biologist can identify and use as a metric during a test. Biomarkers are traditionally used in a variety of medical and wellness contexts for the purposes of identifying reactions to medication or to see how a new medication might work on a virus or cell.
The blood sample is then subjected to a number of different foods and compounds to simulate the absorption of food items through regular consumption.
As the blood reacts to the compounds, results are measured and recorded and conclusions are drawn based on the likely symptoms or experiences the owner of the sample might see if they were to consume the tested foods.
There are both home and clinical food sensitivity tests. However, many at-home food sensitivity tests are not proven to provide any real health benefits or actionable information. There simply aren't enough tools or precision instruments available in a standard home environment for the results of an at-home test to be relied upon.
Instead, food sensitivity tests at wellness or health optimization clinics like NEXT|HEALTH are a much better choice. These tests are administered by trained professionals who know what they’re doing and what to look for. Furthermore, the blood is subjected to more detailed tests and results can be analyzed with more accuracy and thoroughness than with an at-home test.
Why You Should Consider a Food Sensitivity Test
Ultimately, the benefits of learning of potential food sensitivities for your body could result in wide-ranging benefits based on how you use the information.
Knowing which foods to avoid and which foods your body will respond more agreeably to can help you craft a healthy and delicious diet that’s easier to maintain. For instance, some people try out diets and find them impossible to stick with since one or more of the food items just don’t agree with their systems.
But if you know what foods your body may be sensitive to, you can avoid those foods and only try out diets that don’t have foods on your “no-go” list. This, in turn, may help with your confidence as you maintain a diet over a longer timespan.
Fewer Adverse Reactions
By far the best potential benefit of a food sensitivity test is reduced adverse reactions or chronic inflammation. We'd all like to avoid having an upset stomach, especially when it's from a kind of food we can easily swap out for a similar choice in our diets.
Improved Performance and Energy
By eating foods that your body does well with and avoiding foods that cause your body pain or discomfort, you could experience increased energy and performance, especially for your physical activities. It’s difficult to feel like you’re at your peak when your body is having a hard time due to eating something that it has trouble digesting.
Your sleep might also benefit from food sensitivity awareness. That’s because your body will spend less time breaking down difficult foods (and you’ll spend less time feeling uncomfortable), and more time regenerating during a sleep cycle.
Similar to the above benefits, eating foods that your body can process and make the most use of and avoiding foods that are more difficult for your body to digest can result in better cognition and mental functionality. However, as with the other benefits, these benefits cannot be ascribed to food sensitivity awareness alone.
Indeed, each of these benefits are best thought of as potential boosts to health and performance when you use the information of a food sensitivity test in conjunction with proper dieting and exercise.
Who Can Give Out Food Sensitivity Tests?
While you can find at-home food sensitivity tests, it’s recommended that you only visit a qualified and well-prepared health optimization clinic like NEXT|HEALTH. In places like our clinic, you can benefit from the expertise and training of qualified professionals who know what to look for in a given food sensitivity blood test and who can provide you with actionable advice going forward once your results are received.
Are These Tests Accurate?
They can be – it all depends on where you get the test and who administers it. In general, food sensitivity tests that are administered by professionals, and who then take the blood sample to a regulated laboratory environment, are more accurate than at-home tests that don’t have the tools or precision required to discern real results.
However, keep in mind that many food sensitivity tests provide advice, not 100% definitive statements. A food sensitivity test is an approximation of what foods or food additives your body could have difficulty with. Your own experience may vary from a test's results, especially when you consider that bodies can acclimate or adjust to certain food items over time.
Food sensitivity testing is a secondary but still helpful wellness procedure that many would do well to sign up for. Learning about your body’s unique food sensitivities could help you enjoy your diet more and choose healthy foods a little more effectively. Plus, it’ll make sure that you eat fewer foods that give you cramps or an upset stomach, which is something we can all agree is a nice bonus.
Be sure to contact us today if you have questions about our food sensitivity test or if you want to sign up for an appointment!