Food Intolerance Tests Are a Thing—So Should You Take One?

Have GI problems? Well, a few companies are offering a simple way to self-diagnose any intolerances you may have toward certain foods. How’s that?

The Claim:

These take-at-home tests assess the immunoglobulin in your blood to measure if you are intolerant of certain foods. If you’re “intolerant” of a certain food, that food may cause bloating, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, gas, and fun stuff like that. They also known as “IgG” tests and some can cost up to $700.

Who Sells Them:

Everlywell, IdentAllergy, Allergix, Pinnertest

What the Experts Say:

First know that food allergies and food intolerances aren’t the same thing.

Allergies trigger an immune system reaction to fight off a perceived threat. In the case of food, that threat is protein your genetic code doesn’t recognize.

Food intolerances, however, is your body’s inability to properly digest a food due a lack of enzyme. Allergies can be life threatening. Intolerances are inconvenient.

But can a home test pinpoint intolerances? The IgG test “has never been scientifically proven to be able to accomplish what it reports to do,” according to The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. They go on to say that any scientific studies used to sell these products are out-of-date and appear in bunk journals. Cold.

The Verdict:

Skip them. “IgG testing for adverse reactions to foods has not been validated and is not recommended,” says Zainab Abdurrahman, M.D., pediatric and adult allergist and assistant clinical professor at McMaster University. If you’re suffering from gastrointestinal problems, see a licensed gastroenterologist.

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