Food sensitivities and allergies are increasingly common in the modern world. Up to 10% of children have food allergies. This figure dips to about adulthood. However, the rate of food sensitivity and intolerance among people is considered by the medical community to be significantly higher. According to research, for instance, 65% of teenagers and adults deal with a degree of lactose intolerance.
Thankfully testing techniques are making it easier than ever to identify foods that affect the quality of our lives. We examined all of the direct-to-consumer food-related tests currently on the market in 2020 and two companies rose to the top: Everlywell and Personalabs.
We’ll dive into the various tests offered by these companies and provide recommendations as to which of the tests could be a good choice for you. Along the way, we’ll also help you understand the differences between food sensitivity, allergy and intolerance.
Before we dive deeper, here are the pros and cons and top-level conclusions about investing in at-home food sensitivity tests. We recommend Everlywell for food sensitivity tests and Personalabs for food allergy testing.
- Convenience - Take the test easily at home.
- Painless - A simple finger-prick is all it requires.
- Extensive - You can check for sensitivity to nearly either 100 or 200 foods.
- Accuracy - Our top pick (spoiler: Everlywell) boasts 90-95% accuracy with certified 3rd party lab partners.
- Discounts - Everlywell offers our visitors a 20% discount with the promo code REFER20
- Insurance may not cover any cost from the testing .
- You should still consult with your primary care provider about results.
- Tests not available in NY, NJ or RI.
Diagnosing food sensitivities has traditionally been a time-consuming challenge, but this testing can streamline the process considerably. These tests aren’t meant to replace your primary care provider. But if you suspect you may have a food sensitivity or intolerance, there isn’t an easier way to start learning valuable information than to order a good test kit from Everlywell. Think of this as the start of your journey toward a solution, rather than the end of the journey. The test results provide excellent starting points for eliminating foods and reintroducing them later to verify that you’ve identified all of your problem foods. And if you’re wondering whether you have a food allergy - which is potentially much more severe, even life-threatening - you could do yourself a favor and kick off this exploration by buying a food allergy test from Personalabs. These two types of tests measure different immune reactions in the body. Read on for more information.
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This guide, like all medical-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for medical accuracy. Additionally, we extensively analyze each health service we review. We evaluate the entire experience from signing up to receiving the health test in the mail and then offer unbiased, marketing-jargon-free analysis based on the latest scientific evidence and medical standards. Our testing team has purchased and compared over 500 health-related tests to date, and we are constantly updating our reviews based on the latest test advances.
Headache… Problems with digestion… Pain in your joints… Skin rashes and breakouts… Cough and chest tightness… Did you know that what you’re eating could be responsible for these symptoms and others?
You may think you’re eating a healthy diet - and you very well might be. But even healthy foods can trigger a response in our bodies. The nature of the response is where we draw distinctions between food allergies, food sensitivity and food intolerance.
Food allergy, sensitivity and intolerance are three terms used to describe problems in our reaction to certain foods. We often don’t properly distinguish between them, even though are very different issues.
Food allergies are severe and can be life-threatening. You may have heard stories about a child becoming fatally ill after mistakenly eating something that contained peanuts. That is an allergy. In response to food allergies, the body produces IgE antibodies to fight off the antigens. IgE stands for immunoglobulin E. The symptoms of an allergic reaction usually present themselves within minutes of eating the food. Symptoms vary but might include hives, difficulty breathing or anaphylactic shock (in which your blood pressure plummets and you can’t breathe).
Food sensitivity isn’t life-threatening, but can be quite serious or just make you feel very uncomfortable and unwell. Symptoms of food sensitivity - including things like nausea, hives, headache, and joint pain - can appear hours or even a few days after eating the food. When you’ve got a food sensitivity, your body’s immune system responds to the offending food by producing IgG antibodies, in addition to other possible responses. This is a different response than how our bodies react when we’re allergic to a food.
In contrast to the two others, food intolerance doesn’t trigger an immune response. Intolerance describes a situation in which our body lacks a certain digestive enzyme, for instance, or for some reason doesn’t absorb certain nutrients as it should. Symptoms of food intolerance can be disruptive and make you feel unwell, also. The most common intolerance is lactose intolerance, which often results in heartburn, gas, bloating and/or diarrhea after eating dairy products. Sometimes these symptoms occur within an hour of eating the substance, but other times they could be delayed (up to two days).
Here’s a handy chart for reference, breaking down the differences between the three.
|Test available||Personalab||Everlywell||Breath test|
|How long until symptoms?||Often just minutes later||Anywhere from a half hour to days later||Anywhere from less than an hour to 2 days later|
|Severity?||Severe - possibly life-threatening||Not life-threatening, but significant||Unpleasant but not life-threatening|
|What kind of response triggered?||Immune - IgE||Immune - IgG and more||No immune response|
|How common is it?||5-10% of children; 3-4% adults||Unknown but very common||Possibly 65% of people|
IgG food sensitivity tests are best for those who are looking for recommendations on how they can change their diets to improve their health and well-being. Common symptoms of food sensitivity include headaches, fatigue, stomach pain, indigestion, skin issues, joint pain, and sometimes just a feeling of being unwell.
One of the first of its kind, this at-home test assesses IgG reactivity levels for nearly 100 different foods.
Everlywell is one of the largest and most respected at-home health and wellness testing companies. The company receives high ratings in terms of Value, Accuracy, Privacy, and Customer Support.
Current Deals: Save 20% with coupon code: REFER20
Our top pick for food sensitivity testing is Everlywell’s Food Sensitivity Test [See latest price]. Currently, Everlywell is offering our readers 20% off all tests. Just use the coupon code: REFER20 upon checkout.
Everlywell’s Food Sensitivity Test assesses IgG reactivity levels to 96 different foods commonly found in Western diets. For each food, you will get a 0 to 3 rating, with 0 being the lowest reactivity and 3 the highest reactivity.
All your food ratings are analyzed together to create a thorough report that will give you tailored suggestions for next steps and help in creating a trial elimination diet.
Everlywell’s test is perhaps the most convenient food sensitivity test available–the entire test can be taken without leaving your home. Here are the four easy steps:
1) Order your test from the Everlywell.com website. The test kit will be delivered to your door. [Don’t forget to use promo code: REFER20 to save 20% off your test.]
2) Enter your testing kit’s unique barcode at Everlywell.com.
3) Complete the simple finger prick collection and return the kit via the prepaid shipping box included.
4) After your results are ready, a board-certified physician will review your results. The verified results will be made available online within 5-10 days.
Larger test option
Everlywell also offers its new Comprehensive Test for not quite double the price of its more affordable, standard food sensitivity test recommended above. The comprehensive test checks twice as many foods (a total of 204 foods).
In the past, we also recommended Wellnicity as a runner-up to Everlywell, because they offered a large test of nearly 200 foods, for double the price of Everlywell’s standard test. But now that Everlywell offers a larger test as well, and our testers had difficulties ordering from Wellnicity this year, we no longer recommend them. We advise sticking to the more established company - Everlywell.
Everlywell’s comprehensive test includes all foods in the lower-priced standard test as well as the additional 100+ other foods listed alphabetically below. Take a look at that list; we don’t recommend this test over the standard test unless some of the foods below are a part of your diet (in which case, you might want to opt for this test instead of the other).
Foods included in the comprehensive but not the standard test:
Aloe vera, Anchovy, Anise, Apricot, Artichoke, Arugula, Baking powder, Bamboo shoots, Beet, Black currant, Blackberry, Branzino, Brazil nut, Brussels sprout, Buckwheat, Butter, Butter lettuce, Caper, Carob, Carp, Casein, Cayenne pepper, Chamomile, Chard, Cherry, Chestnut, Chickpea, Chicory, Chili pepper, Chive, Cilantro, Cloves, Cranberry, Crayfish, Cumin, Curry, Date, Duck, Eel, Emmental cheese, Fava bean, Fennel, Fig, Flaxseed, Goat cheese, Goat milk, Gooseberry, Grape leaf, Hazelnut, Herring, Honeydew melon, Hops, Horseradish, Jerusalem artichoke, Kefir, Key lime, Kidney bean, Kiwi, Leek, Lentil, Licorice root, Lychee, Macadamia, Mackerel, Mango, Marjoram, Millet, Mint, Mung bean, Navy bean, Nectarine, Nutmeg, Octopus, Pacific oyster, Papaya, Parsley, Peppermint, Perch, Pike, Pine nut, Pistachio, Plum, Pomegranate, Poppy seed, Prawn, Processed cheese, Quail, Radish, Raisin, Rapeseed, Raspberry, Red cabbage, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Shallot, Sheep cheese, Sheep milk, Shiitake mushroom, Snow pea, Spelt, Squid, Thyme, Trout, Turnip, Vanilla, Whey, and Zucchini.
IgE food allergy tests are for those looking to diagnose or confirm a specific allergy, or those who have a family history of allergic reactions. Allergic symptoms vary significantly from person to person but can include nausea, hives, trouble breathing or swallowing, and vomiting.
The most common foods that cause allergic reactions are tree nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, soy, fish, wheat, and shellfish.
This blood test helps diagnose allergies to the most common allergenic foods, including tree nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, soy, fish, and wheat.
Personalabs specializes in comprehensive blood tests and partners with over 2,300 labs nationwide. Chances are there is a partner lab convenient to where you live.
Personalabs’ Food Allergen Profile (Basic) Blood Test [see latest price]
This fairly comprehensive test checks for allergic reactions to most common allergenic foods, including codfish, cow’s milk, egg whites, peanut, soybean, and wheat.
Personalabs also offers a more comprehensive test confusingly named the Allergen Profile Food Blood Test [see latest price]. It tests for everything the “Basic” test does, but adds almond, cashew nut, hazelnut, salmon, scallop, sesame seed, shrimp, tuna, and walnut. In general, we believe that the Basic test is the best starting point, unless you don’t want to leave any stone left unturned (and don’t mind paying more).
While it’s not quite as convenient as Everlywell’s, Personalabs’ testing process is still very easy and works very well. Here are the four steps in the process:
1) Select and order your test from the Personalabs.com website.
2) Print out your order form.
3) Bring your order form to one of Personalabs’ 2,300 lab testing locations. Appointments are not necessary but are recommended. The testing process usually takes less than 10 minutes. To confirm that there is a convenient testing location near you, check here.
4) Wait for your results to be posted online. This is usually done within 48 hours after testing. You will have access to a free doctor’s consultation if you have any questions about your results.
Another thing we like about Personalabs is that it offers less expensive tests that only test for specific types of food. These tests are great if you already have an idea about which specific food you are most likely allergic to. Examples of such tests include the Allergen Profile - Milk Blood Test, the Allergen Profile - Grain Blood Test, and the Allergen Profile - Shellfish Blood Test. A list of all tests offered can be found here.
We customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the test. For most health-related tests, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:
Accuracy: Do the testing companies use the latest and most accurate testing technologies available? How accurate are the tests compared to alternatives?
Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the test provider offer discounts to our readers?
Customer Support: How well does the testing company help you choose the best test? How clearly are the results presented? How well does the testing company help you understand results and get treatment if necessary?
Privacy: Are all test kits sent in discreet packaging? Will your data be stored securely? Could your data ever be shared without your permission?
Test Results Speed: How fast will you receive your test results from the moment you click “buy?” Are the waiting times stated by the testing companies accurate and consistent?