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Many people are affected by food sensitivities, which are immune responses to specific foods that can worsen or trigger a wide range of symptoms (
Though many types of at-home tests claim to help identify food sensitivities, there can be big differences in the types of foods they test, their cost, the methods they use, their accuracy, and the support they provide for making dietary changes after you receive your results.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at a few of these tests and discuss how to figure out which one is best for you.
Though many people use the terms “food sensitivity,” “food allergy,” and “food intolerance” interchangeably, there are several important differences among them.
A food sensitivity occurs when your immune system reacts to a specific food, causing a variety of adverse symptoms.
Similar to food allergies, food sensitivities are believed to be caused by an immune reaction driven by antibodies such as immunoglobulin G (IgG), immunoglobulin M (IgM), and immunoglobulin A (IgA), along with other cell-mediated reactions in the body (
Unlike food allergies, food sensitivities are not life threatening, but they can cause unpleasant symptoms.
For example, non-celiac gluten sensitivity — a food sensitivity triggered by a type of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye — has been linked to symptoms such as bloating, stomach pain, brain fog, depression, and skin inflammation (
Though more studies are needed on food sensitivities, research suggests that some people may be sensitive to other foods, including nightshade vegetables and lectins — a type of proteins found in many plant foods, such as legumes (
A food allergy is a type of immune response triggered by the proteins found in a specific food (
Many food allergies are mediated by increased production of an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). However, some types of food allergies may be caused by other types of immune reactions as well (
Food allergies often cause symptoms such as digestive issues, hives, and swelling, which can occur within minutes of consuming an allergen (
Severe food allergies can also cause anaphylaxis, a very serious allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention (10).
- milk and other dairy products
- tree nuts
Unlike a food allergy or a food sensitivity, a food intolerance doesn’t involve the immune system.
Food intolerances affect up to 20% of the population and occur when your body cannot digest a specific food. This is often due to a lack of certain enzymes required to break it down (
For example, lactose intolerance is a common food intolerance characterized by the inability to digest milk or dairy products, resulting in digestive issues like gas and bloating (
This occurs when your body doesn’t make enough lactase, which is the enzyme used to break down lactose into the simple sugars glucose and galactose (
- fructose, a type of sugar found in fruits
- food additives, including certain preservatives and artificial colors
Food sensitivity tests typically check how your immune system responds to different types of food.
A food sensitivity is driven by cell-mediated reactions and antibodies such as IgG, IgM, and IgA. On the other hand, an allergic reaction is often caused by IgE (
While there are some at-home testing options for food allergies, many require a referral from a doctor or another medical professional. However, several at-home tests that claim to identify potential food sensitivities are available online.
Food sensitivity tests claim to help you discover which foods are triggering symptoms such as gas and bloating. Many of the testing companies offer actionable steps to help you reduce your symptoms.
Some tests can also help determine how your body may respond to certain ingredients or nutrients.
Though at-home tests cannot diagnose specific food sensitivities, they can be used alongside other testing methods administered by a medical professional to help you make adjustments to your diet.
The tests vary based on the following factors:
- Sample collection. Collections can come from hair strands, cheek swabs, breath tests, or blood samples.
- What they test. Tests offer a range of results, from food intolerances to your genetic response to food, exercise, and more.
- Type of support. Not all companies offer support for making changes, but many of them offer customized information to help you improve your health.
Many at-home food sensitivity tests measure your body’s immune response to a variety of foods by testing the levels of certain antibodies in your blood, such as IgG or IgG4, after you are exposed to various food antigens (
However, some studies suggest that the presence of these antibodies may not be an accurate or reliable marker of a food sensitivity, especially because many other antibodies and cell-mediated reactions may be involved in food sensitivities (
What’s more, multiple organizations have advised against the use of these tests to diagnose food sensitivities in past years, including the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (
That being said, some at-home tests can help you understand how your body may respond to certain foods based on factors such as your genetic background (
Other at-home tests can detect food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, by measuring the amount of hydrogen in your breath after you consume lactose. This can help determine whether your body has properly digested the lactose (
A note on at-home food sensitivity tests
It’s important to keep in mind that at-home food sensitivity tests cannot detect or diagnose a food sensitivity.
However, they can be used alongside other testing methods and treatments recommended by a doctor or dietitian to help make adjustments to your diet.
If you believe you have a food sensitivity or you have unexplained symptoms, it’s best to consult a doctor or dietitian.
They can help rule out other potential causes of symptoms and determine whether you may have a food allergy or food intolerance.
Because this diet can be restrictive, time consuming, and difficult to follow, it should be done only under the supervision of a registered dietitian or another medical professional.
While at-home food sensitivity tests are not recommended for diagnosing food sensitivities, they may help narrow down potential trigger foods, especially when used alongside other treatments and testing methods such as an elimination diet.
Potential adverse reactions to foods include (22):
- bloating and excess gas
- stomach pain and cramps
- acid reflux or heartburn
- migraine episodes and headaches
- runny nose or sinus congestion
In addition to the science behind the test, we also considered the following factors:
- Comprehensive testing. We looked for companies that offer comprehensive testing and considered what support the company offers after you receive your results.
- Result speed. We selected tests that deliver results in a reasonable amount of time.
- Reputation. We chose products based on customer reviews and experience.
- Cost. We considered the pricing for the initial test and any ongoing fees or upsells.
Why you should trust us
We vetted more than 10 of the most popular at-home food sensitivity, allergy, and intolerance tests and updated our list to reflect what we believe to be a better solution set for our audience.
The products listed below have all passed our vetting process and been approved by Healthline’s team of medical experts.
As part of the vetting process, Healthline’s experts looked at the methodology behind each test. Several tests failed our vetting process and were removed from our list because they rely on IgG responses to foods.
While at-home food sensitivity tests are not recommended to diagnose a food sensitivity, some types of tests can help you understand how your body may respond to certain foods so you can make changes to your diet, especially when used alongside other testing methods.
The following tests may be worth considering as one component of a comprehensive nutrition care plan.
- Price: $149
- Sample type: finger prick
- Results time frame: 2–5 business days
The Food Sensitivity Test from myLAB Box is designed to identify immune reactions to 96 common foods and provide fast, lab-certified results within 2–5 days.
The test measures levels of several antibodies in your blood to determine how your immune system reacts to certain foods or ingredients.
Though it doesn’t test for all the antibodies or cell-mediated reactions that can be used to diagnose a food sensitivity, it can offer valuable insights to help you make changes to your diet.
After submitting your testing kit, you can view your lab-certified results digitally in a matter of days.
However, your purchase does not include any follow-up counseling, so be sure to bring your results to a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or dietitian, for additional guidance.
- provides results very quickly
- identifies reactions to 96 common foods
- easy to take
- can’t definitively identify food sensitivities
- doesn’t offer follow-up counseling with a healthcare professional
Best if you already took a DNA test
- Price: $149
- Sample type: cheek swab
- Results time frame: 4–6 weeks
The Health + Ancestry Report by Vitagene tests your DNA to see how your genetics influence your health. It provides information on how your body may respond to gluten, lactose, caffeine, alcohol, carbs, fat, and sodium.
While the test includes an ancestry report, you can also use raw data from a previous DNA test from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, or MyHeritage for your health report.
Once you receive your results, Vitagene sets you up with a personal online coach to help you work on changes based on the information obtained from your test.
While this type of test can be useful, keep in mind that it is not possible to identify food sensitivities based on your genetics.
Further research is needed on the accuracy and reliability of this type of test, and it should be used only in conjunction with other testing methods.
Additionally, note that the company may try to upsell supplements to you based on the results of your DNA test.
- easy to take
- can’t definitively identify food sensitivities
- provides a less comprehensive health report than some competitors
- may take several weeks for results to come back
Best for meal planning assistance
- Price: $189
- Sample type: saliva swab
- Results time frame: 10–15 business days
The Diet Fit plan from DNAfit includes reports with information on how your genetics may affect the way your body responds to certain foods, nutrients, and diet types.
Though this test doesn’t identify specific food sensitivities, it can offer valuable insights to help you make adjustments to your diet.
Your purchase includes access to a personalized meal plan and recipe platform based on your food preferences and genetics.
The company offers a 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee. Plus, DNAfit offers additional options for working with dietitians and fitness professionals.
23andMe users can use the raw DNA file from a previous DNA test with the DNAfit system.
- personalized meal plans based on your results
- provides results fairly quickly
- can’t definitively identify food sensitivities
If you suspect you may have a food sensitivity, it’s important to talk with a healthcare professional to rule out other causes, such as a food intolerance.
Food intolerances are generally caused by an inability to digest a specific food due to a lack of certain digestive enzymes (
Common food intolerances include lactose and fructose, both of which are generally diagnosed using a breath test.
While food intolerances are typically diagnosed by a healthcare professional, there is now a home-based option that you can try as well.
Healthline’s pick of the best at-home food intolerance test
- Price: $179
- Sample type: breath test
- Results time frame: immediate (but requires consistent tracking)
The FoodMarble AIRE device is the first personal breath test device.
This test requires more work than other types of tests — you’ll need to consistently use the device and track food and health behaviors in the app.
As long as you use the app consistently, FoodMarble makes it easy to track trends over time to better understand how your body responds to certain foods.
Using the data from the test, along with the help of a qualified healthcare professional, you can start to make adjustments to your diet.
- provides immediate results
- helps track trends over time to better identify potential food intolerances
- requires greater time commitment than other tests, as you need to take multiple readings and use the app consistently to monitor trends
It’s also important to rule out food allergies, which can be more severe than a food sensitivity or intolerance.
Food allergies can cause several serious symptoms, including hives, itching, swelling, and digestive issues (
In some cases, food allergies may also lead to anaphylaxis, which can be life threatening (10).
When testing for food allergies, a doctor will likely collect information about your symptoms, diet, and medical history.
- Skin tests. This type of test involves pricking your skin with a probe that contains a small amount of food allergen and monitoring your reaction.
- Blood tests. This test helps determine whether you are allergic to specific foods by measuring the amounts of certain antibodies in your blood.
- Oral food challenge. This procedure involves consuming small amounts of a suspected allergen under the supervision of a doctor. Emergency equipment and medication must be kept on hand in case of a severe reaction.
Though at-home food allergy tests are also available, some may require a referral from a doctor.
You can also order certain food allergy tests online from companies like Labcorp, which allows you to view your results online after providing a blood sample at a location near you.
Healthline’s pick of the best at-home food allergy test
- Price: $199
- Sample type: blood sample
- Results time frame: not disclosed online
This food allergy test from Labcorp measures IgE antibody levels in your blood to test for 16 common allergens.
Once you buy the test on the company’s website, you receive a requisition number, which you can bring to any Labcorp location to provide a blood sample.
You can view your test results on the Labcorp patient portal and download an official report, which you can bring to a healthcare professional for further guidance.
- results easily viewed online
- downloadable report for sharing results with a healthcare professional
- relatively expensive
- requires blood sample at a Labcorp location
Interested in other options for at-home testing?
Our reviews and brand comparisons cover top at-home testing kits, so you can feel confident in your decision to manage your health from home.
Here’s a quick look at how our top picks compare:
|Type||Cost||Sample collection||Results time frame|
|DNAfit||food sensitivity test||$189||saliva swab||10–15 business days|
|FoodMarble AIRE||food intolerance test||$179||breath test||immediate (requires consistent tracking)|
|Labcorp Food Allergy Test||food allergy test||$199||blood sample||not disclosed online|
|myLAB Box||food sensitivity test||$149||finger prick||2–5 business days|
|Vitagene||food sensitivity test||$149||cheek swab||4–6 weeks|
While some at-home testing kits can provide valuable insights to help you make adjustments to your diet, there are many cases in which you may need to see a doctor or another healthcare professional instead.
In particular, if you experience adverse symptoms after eating certain foods and suspect you may have a food allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance, it’s best to consult a doctor or dietitian to determine the cause and the best course of treatment.
Potential adverse reactions to foods include (
- stomach pain
- diarrhea or constipation
Additionally, if you experience serious symptoms of an allergic reaction — such as swelling of the throat, tingling of the mouth, dizziness, or difficulty breathing — you should seek immediate medical attention (
Are food sensitivity tests covered by insurance?
No. Most at-home food sensitivity tests are not covered by insurance.
Your insurance may cover food sensitivity tests ordered through your doctor, but that’s not guaranteed.
How often should you get tested?
It’s common for food sensitivities to change over time. You can be tested for food sensitivities every 1–2 years, or sooner if you notice changes in symptoms.
Can an at-home food sensitivity test diagnose a food allergy?
While some at-home testing kits can measure levels of IgE antibodies in your blood, you still need to review your results with a healthcare professional to receive a diagnosis for a food allergy.
Many at-home testing kits are available to help evaluate how your body may respond to certain foods based on factors such as genetics.
Still, if you suspect you may have a food sensitivity, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional like a doctor or dietitian.
In addition to ruling out other possible causes of your symptoms, such as food allergies or intolerances, a professional can determine the best course of treatment and provide guidance on necessary dietary changes.