What Types of Food Sensitivity Tests are Available and Which are the Most Accurate
Most people confuse food sensitivity or intolerance with food allergies. A food allergy is an immune system reaction to eating a particular food or foods. The reaction to a food allergy can cause hives, closed airways and digestive issues.
If you have a food sensitivity, your body is not able to digest a particular food properly. This can lead to symptoms such as bloating, intestinal gas or diarrhea. These symptoms are an inflammatory response to the particular food. A good example would be someone who is lactose intolerant.
This can have a big impact on someone’s life, especially if they don’t know the food that is causing the problem. Food sensitivity testing has been gaining momentum in the health industry.
There are a number of tests that are now available to help detect which food is causing the undesirable symptoms.
If you are trying to decide which test will give you the most accurate results, you’re not alone. It can be confusing trying to figure out what types of tests are out there and which ones are the most accurate.
We are going to look at the different methods of testing and their accuracy starting with the least effective methods, to the ones that produce accurate results so you can make a more informed decision about which test to choose.
There are several companies that offer hair tests to measure food sensitivity. Some hair tests only read the immunoglobulin (IgG) antibodies. Hair samples do not contain immunoglobulin E (IgE) which are antibodies produced by the immune system. There is no evidence that hair tests can detect food intolerance. It is best to use a more accurate method of testing such as the MicroARRAY ELISA.
Leukocytotoxic Testing (Cell Testing, Bryan’s test, Cytotoxic) and Mediator Release Tests (MRT)
This is the original food sensitivity test, developed many years ago, in the 1950s. This test became popular in the 1980’s for helping people identify foods they were sensitive to. The suspected food is added to a blood sample and examined periodically under a microscope to look for damage in the white blood cells.
Studies have shown it to be an ineffective method for diagnosing food sensitivity and allergies.
This test requires a full blood draw from the patient. It is different from the other cell-based tests because it measures the change ratio from solid (White Blood Cell) to liquid (Plasma) in each individual suspect food.
Somewhat more reliable then Cytotoxic Testing, MRT has not had enough studies done on it to confirm accuracy.
Alcat and Leap MRT are much older methods of testing that came out in the 1980s. The technology is outdated and it can take months to complete the test. The test checks for the reaction of white blood cells when they are introduced to individual molecules. There are much more sophisticated and accurate tests available.
The elimination diet is one of the more well-known tests for food allergies and sensitivity. It works by eliminating certain foods from your diet that people are commonly allergic to. This includes milk, nuts, soy, eggs, shellfish, and wheat.
Your doctor will have you stop eating these specific foods for several weeks, then you will introduce each of these foods back into your diet one at a time to see which food gives you a reaction. Both during the elimination period and the reintroduction period, you need to have a food diary and write down everything you eat.
In your food diary, you will document any symptoms you get as you add each food back in.
Keep in mind there is a difference between food sensitivity and food allergies. This type of test may not account for the digestion of the food or if the sensitivity is caused by a combination of foods eaten together. The elimination diet takes over 6 weeks to complete and should be done under the supervision of a physician.
Muscle Response Testing
Muscle Testing is a form of alternative medicine that uses a Kinesiologist to determine which foods a person shows sensitivity to. This form of testing has been around for a long time.
The patient holds one arm out with the hand extended. On the other hand, he or she holds the food that might be the cause of the sensitivity. It is thought that by holding the offending food that the muscle will become weaker. This is done while standing. The tester places their hand on the shoulder of the arm holding the food item. The tester then places two fingers on the extended wrist and presses down firmly. It is believed that if the person is sensitive to a food, the muscles in the body will become weaker and that pushing down on an outstretched hand could indicate food sensitivity.
The test is simple and can be performed in the patient’s home, or by a practitioner.
This method may not be as accurate as others to measure food sensitivity due to the fact it does not address any immune responses, which is a key factor in food sensitivity.
The basis of this test is a reaction from the sympathetic system in the body. It is believed that after eating the suspect food, an increase in pulse and blood pressure, results from the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, showing that a person is sensitive to that food.
A baseline pulse is taken. A small amount of the suspected food is placed on the tongue but not chewed or swallowed. Your pulse is recorded after 20 seconds.
There are several methods used for pulse testing including the Coca Method, which takes the pulse throughout the day.
There are some factors that can impact the results of this type of testing causing it to affect the accuracy:
- Heart medications such as beta-blockers
- Anxiety can make the pulse more rapid
This test is very popular and used by many different food sensitivity websites and labs. ELISA stands for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay. This method has been well researched and has often proven to be an effective method for detecting HIV and other conditions such as Lyme Disease.
In order to do this test, a blood sample collected at home is sent to the lab. At the lab, the blood is tested to see how it reacts to different foods. The immunoglobulin (IgG) levels are measured. The higher the IgG levels are, the more likely there is a sensitivity to that food. A report is sent to the person being tested so they know which foods to stay away from.
This test has a much higher rate of reproducibility than the previous tests, and the results are more precise when compared to Alcat and some of the other methods.
MicroARRAY IgG ELISA Test
Although this method of testing sounds close to the ELISA testing, it is quite different. MicroARRAY uses highly advanced technology. to analyze Antigens in the blood. It is used to determine the degree of food sensitivity. In other words, how much is this particular food is affecting you. This test uses highly advanced software, to analyze the resulting positive reactions to certain foods with a higher degree of accuracy than other methods.
There is no fasting required for this test and the results are very easy to read and understand. The blood draw only requires a finger prick.
The MicroARRAY IgG is more affordable than other tests and much more accurate. When compared to cytotoxic tests, the reproducibility rate is extremely high. Scientists consider this method the most reliable for testing food sensitivity.
Top Companies that Offer Testing
Yorktest, Imupro and Everlywell (ELISA)
- Yorktest has been around for 35 years. Its headquarters are located in the UK. Yorktest is a premier European company, however, their testing technology appears to be outdated. The method they are using is pretty old and may be linked to false positives.
- Everylywell is a U.S. based company. Tests are priced reasonably at $159, but the only test for 96 foods which is much less than most competitors. They also use older ELISA technology for testing.
- Imupro is a German company that has been around as long as Yorktest. They have partner labs globally including the United States. Imupro is more expensive than Yorktest (around $500) and appears to use the same outdated technology as Yorktest.
Cambridge (MicroARRAY ELISA)
Cambridge, a subsidiary of Omega Diagnostic, is one of the first companies that started to perform Microarray Elisa food intolerance tests in the 2000s. They are located in the U.K. and it is not clear if they ship test kits to the U.S.
Pinnertest (MicroARRAY ELISA)
Pinnertest tests for food sensitivity using MicroARRAY. Tests are priced at approximately $280 after discounts. Offices are located in the United States. The blood sample requires a simple finger prick. The results are easy to understand and Microarray testing is the most recommended and reliable method for most practitioners. They test for 200 foods.
There are hundreds of companies on the Internet that offer to test for food sensitivity. We were able to verify some of them from ordering and contacting customer service. There were many of them that did not reply to our inquiry.
When you are trying to decide on what company and testing method to choose when trying to diagnose a food sensitivity, make sure you find a reliable company that has responsive customer service. With the understanding of which methods are the most accurate for finding particular food sensitivity you on your way to finding the foods you should not eat and a happy, healthier lifestyle.