Don’t Expect Mail-Order Tests to Diagnose Food Allergies
“You are what you eat. What is holding you back?” Reads the EverlyWell Food Alert Test Sales page (from $ 199). next meal. ”Too bad it’s not.
The first problem is that “sensitivity” to food doesn’t matter. AC Shilton reports in Outside that the term was coined for people who did not have celiac disease, but believed that they felt sick when they ate food with gluten. Since then, other types of sensitivity have been proposed, but there is no clear definition of what sensitivity is and how it might work.
Allergies, on the other hand, are better understood. We don’t always know why some people get them and others don’t, but at least doctors and researchers can explain what happens in your body during an allergic reaction . A key part of this reaction is antibodies, which recognize substances in your body. There are different types of antibodies, and allergies are related to a type called IgE.
But tests done directly to the consumer, such as EverlyWell, usually check for IgG antibodies that are different. If you have IgG antibodies in your blood that react to wheat proteins, this does not mean that you are allergic to wheat. It simply means that your body saw wheat at some point. But even IgE tests are not accurate enough to be used by allergists.
The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology published a statement in 2008 stating that IgG4 tests should not be used to diagnose food sensitivities . The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology then issued a statement in which it fully agreed and noted that no serum antibody test, not even the sometimes beneficial IgE, can diagnose allergies. They directly say: “The presence of antibodies does not indicate disease.” In addition, an antibody that is undetectable in testing may be at an undetectable level, but that does not mean it is not; you may still be allergic to this food.
The Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology conducted its research several years later, in particular, stating that tests conducted directly by the consumer are a waste of money . They spared no words:
Results [P] of positive food-specific IgG tests are expected in normal, healthy adults and children. In addition, misuse of this test only increases the likelihood of a false diagnosis, resulting in unnecessary dietary restrictions and reduced quality of life.
These organizations not only annoy the uselessness of tests. They point out that the next step after taking the test should be to eliminate certain foods from your diet, and if you test positive on a bunch of different foods, you may be left with very little of what constitutes a healthy diet. Dr. Robert Wood, an allergist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, told STAT that IgG tests are “completely useless and very harmful.”
EverlyWell optionally packs its blood test with a DNA test, which seems to provide you with more information, but according to their website, it looks like the additional tests are for some simple traits that you don’t really need a test for. Do you have a genetic predisposition to lactose intolerance, high caffeine exposure, or B12 or magnesium deficiency?
You probably already know how you react to dairy products and caffeine. And if you want to know if you are deficient in any vitamin or mineral, you should get tested for the deficiency itself, and not for a genetic predisposition to this deficiency.
So what’s holding you back? I don’t know, but I doubt the people from these testing services do either.