At-home Food Sensitivity Tests

Written by UConn Dietetics Masters student Olivia Routhier.

In recent years, people have become increasingly aware of the impact their diet has on their overall well-being. An important aspect to consider when evaluating your diet is that diet is never a one-size-fits-all. Each person has their own food preferences that are formed by a variety of influences. Food intolerances, more commonly known as food sensitivities, are defined as the inability to process or digest certain foods.1 Some people have difficulty digesting and absorbing certain nutrients, which can cause symptoms like bloating, abdominal cramping, skin issues, and irregular bowel movements. An essential piece of maintaining overall wellness is identifying and managing these intolerances to minimize the undesirable symptoms that are associated with them.

The methods traditionally used to diagnose food sensitivities require appointments with healthcare professionals, laboratory tests, and elimination diets. These techniques are expensive and time-consuming, which become barriers that prevent the public from using these resources. To combat the inaccessibility, companies have developed at-home food sensitivity tests that are inexpensive and easily purchased online. At home food sensitivity tests require the individual to submit a sample, usually blood, strand of hair, or mouth swab, to the company for laboratory testing.2 The labs then test for levels of antigens—specifically allergens— in the patients’ samples that can vary after the consumption of certain foods.2

Performing one of these tests at home is convenient and affordable while also providing quick results. Despite how beneficial this technology seems, a critical issue discussed among professionals in the nutrition field are the accuracy and validity of these tests.

There is, unfortunately, not enough research to come to a definitive conclusion about the reliability of these tests. Companies that sell these tests claim that removing foods that cause someone’s IgG (specific antibodies) levels to rise can help minimize symptoms. However, there is no reputable scientific evidence to support this claim. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) reports that the studies aimed at researching the validity of the methods used by food sensitivity tests are outdated or from unreliable sources.3 Because of this, the AAAAI does not advise patients to use these types of tests to self-diagnose their food intolerances or sensitivities. Instead, the AAAAI recommends that people see a medical doctor with a specialization in allergies or immunity before making severe changes to their diet based on the at-home test results. Specialized assistance from a professional in this field would provide the maximum benefits with regard to understanding and then managing symptoms of food intolerances.






This material is funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.