Last week, I decided to take a food sensitivity test from Everlywell. I had been coaching a client and began to suspect he had some food sensitivities, so I told him about the test. I realized, at the time, that I didn’t have any working knowledge of the test, so I decided to order one for myself too.
You can watch me do the test in this video (it is a Facebook Live video). You can see how the Everlywell food sensitivity test kit looks, and how the at-home blood draw works, etc. I was a little squeamish having to prick my own finger, but I did it and it was all good in the end.
So I waited about five days for my test results to come back.
While I waited, I began to suspect certain foods were reacting negatively in my body such as corn, eggs and cheese. Corn is something I tested as an “allergy” for at the same time I found out I had celiac disease. (I need to do another IgE food allergy test to see if anything has changed now that I’ve got my celiac disease under control.)
Many experts believe food sensitivities tests are quite useful in understanding if specific foods are making a person sick. Foods that cause high food sensitivity reactivity in a person should be avoided through a controlled and purposeful elimination diet. There is a lot of research behind the validity of food sensitivity testing, but, with anything, you can find a study to showcase the pros just as easy as you can find a study to showcase the cons. One such con is that some experts believe food sensitivity tests only pick up foods that you consume most and therefore a high IgG reactivity means that you actually have a tolerance to a particular food.
The verdict is still out, however, and I believe the only way to know for sure is to do a test on yourself, eliminate the high reactivity foods, and see how you feel.
My Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test Results
The results of my test came to me in an email and were displayed on a beautiful dashboard on the Everlywell site. I opened the results with trepidation, as I, like many of you, were praying things like chocolate and rice didn’t show up at the top of my reactivity list.
For me, I was pleasantly surprised by the results… and I have a few theories about why my results are the way they are, and I think I might be able to unscientifically debunk one of the myths about food sensitivity tests too.
First, the results surprised me because guess what, there are no foods that cause high reactivity in me. Interesting, right? Many of you might think gluten or wheat would have been reactive in me, but I have completely eliminated those foods from my diet since I have celiac disease, so it’s difficult for my body to react to something it hasn’t had in a long time (and if I had an accidental gluten exposure, it would have been a small fragment of gluten vs. a full-blown glutenous meal!)
So I looked at the second tier of “moderate reactivity” foods and found only three culprits: Cottage cheese, almonds and watermelon. These three seemingly random foods might be causing inflammation in my body. Who knew?
I have to admit, I HATE cottage cheese and you couldn’t pay me to eat it. It might be mixed in something I eat, like on a frozen pizza, who knows, but I promise you, I cannot even look at cottage cheese without throwing up a little in my mouth. The idea that it’s a moderately reactive food in my body is so strange to me because I don’t eat it!
Watermelon, I love, but I can’t remember the last time I had a piece. It’s been at least a 2-3 months since I’ve had it, so again, so strange that my food sensitivity test picked it up.
Almonds, on the other hand, I eat every day. I bake with almond flour, and I snack on chocolate covered almonds daily (my guilty pleasure).
Here’s the issue – many people debunk food sensitivity tests like Everlywell because they say IgG antibodies pick up on foods you eat the most and therefore some say a high reactivity suggests a tolerance – not intolerance – to those foods. I don’t eat cottage cheese (YUK!) and I haven’t had watermelon in a long time… so it seems to me that you don’t have to be consuming a lot of a food for the Everlywell food sensitivity test to pick it up in your bloodstream.
The test then reported 22 foods that cause “mild reactivity” in my body. Here’s the list:
I’ve given a lot of thought to why I don’t have a lot of highly reactive foods or food sensitivities. I think it’s because I’ve taken the time to heal my body from the damages of celiac disease, and, in the process, I’ve repaired and restored my digestive track. My small intestine was severely damaged by gluten. There were holes in my small intestine (leaky gut) because I couldn’t digest gluten, and I was malnourished, unable to absorb nutrients from the foods I was eating. Today, I’ve not only removed the irritant (gluten) from my system, but I’ve also flooded my body with nutrient-dense foods and foods that have repaired my intestinal lining. Foods that used to leach out into my bloodstream no longer leach! My body is healthy from the inside out and I like to think I’ve nursed my gut back to health.
I suspect many people will have a list of highly reactive foods that they must eliminate from their diet. If this is the case, I highly recommend you start an elimination diet, starting by taking out the foods most reactive to you. On top of that, you need to not only remove the offending foods, but also you need to replace those foods with healthy, nutrient-dense foods, not junk. For example, if you’re highly reactive to gluten, you can’t just start eating gluten-free cookies and expect to be healed. I also believe you need to work hard to heal your gut to ensure foods are properly digested in your body. You can join my free Heal Your Gut Challenge if you’re up for doing the hard work to heal your body.
What I Learned from My Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test
In the end, I learned several things from my Everlywell food sensitivity test:
I’m in good health, inside out. No foods are highly reactive in me.
The foods I thought would be most reactive in me, corn, dairy and eggs, were not. This reminds me of before I knew I had celiac disease. I blamed every food on the planet for causing my painful bloating and gas… I blamed everything except gluten, that is. (In all fairness, I didn’t really know anything about gluten back then.)
I learned that if you put in the hard work to heal your body, you may lessen your chances of having a food sensitivity. While I can’t know for sure, I suspect if this Everlywell food sensitivity test was available six years ago, before I knew I had celiac disease, before I took out the gluten, and before I cleaned up my entire diet, I probably would have tested as reactive for many foods. This, again, is what I suspect (i.e., I don’t know for sure so don’t quote me on it).
I also learned that it’s important to understand that a food sensitivity is a very different test than a food allergy test or a celiac disease test. Just because you may not test as sensitive to gluten, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a wheat allergy or celiac disease. Get tested for everything if you suspect something like gluten is ailing you.
I learned that you can take control of your health – you have the power. The only way you used to be able to get this kind of test was through your doctor… and if your doctor didn’t “believe” in food sensitivities, he wouldn’t order the test and he’d disway you on the value and validity of it. So many people are asking their doctors for this kind of information, though. So many people! Doctors, while not trained in nutrition at all (I promise you, most docs have only taken one nutrition class, maybe two) should not be scared of these kinds of tests. They should get educated on what their consumers are demanding most of them and that is to treat food as thy medicine and medicine as they food as the great Hippocrates once said. Doctors can work in partnership with a health coach like me to help their patients facilitate an elimination diet and clean up their diets in general.
I learned that food sensitivity tests should be taken with a grain of salt. They are not meant to diagnose anything, they are only meant to be a starting point into what might be ailing you, and the catalyst for you to investigate future (usually via an elimination diet).
Finally, I learned that it can never hurt to get a peek inside of you. Food sensitivity tests, like Everlywell’s test, are one of many ways you can peek behind the curtain, so to speak. If I hadn’t taken this test, I would have gone on blaming corn, eggs and dairy – but now I won’t.
Please be sure to read this important article, The Truth About Food Sensitivity Testing and Elimination Diets, too. It provides all sorts of information about how food sensitivity tests works, how they are different from food allergy tests and more.
Do You Suspect a Food Sensitivity?
If you’d like to order your own food sensitivity test via Everlywell, please visit Everlywell and add the food sensitivity test to your cart. Enter the coupon code GFJenny to get 10% off your test. Please note this is my affiliate/partner link, so when you use the coupon, you get 10% off and I get a small revenue share.
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