Food Sensitivity Testing- what to know before you buy

I have been doing food sensitivity testing in my private practice for 11 years. I have used it for so long because it makes a difference. But, this testing is only one step of several steps that I take to help people feel better, as in; increasing energy, resolving gastrointestinal complaints, improve quality of sleep, enhance mood, reduce or stop medications (with their doctors approval), lose weight, reverse chronic conditions, etc. Food sensitivity testing (FST) is only one part of the healing process and if that is all you do, you won’t reach your full potential and you will not experience all the benefits listed above.

Food Sensitivities Change

In addition to understanding that there is more to healing than just cutting out food sensitivities, it’s also important to understand that your food sensitivities change over time. So re-testing is important. Some food sensitivities are from birth and those will never change. Those are the foods you will always need to avoid but others do resolve. It is very important to know which foods may change and which one will never come back into your diet as you don’t want to cut out foods unnecessarily. And you certainly do not want to eat the foods you have been sensitive to since birth since they can destroy your quality of life and cause disease.

No Standardization

Another key factor is, the lab that you use. There is no standardization when it comes to testing. Results will vary dramatically from lab to lab. I know this because I have sent my own blood to many of these labs only to find completely different results from each one of them. Some of the results looked like a food log of everything I had just eaten days before the test. None of them showed my food sensitivities that I have had since birth. None, except the lab that I use in my practice.

Direct-To-Consumer Testing

Recently, direct-to-consumer testing has flooded the online market. So of course, I wanted to see if these were something useful for my patients. I started looking at all the websites and found that they are not using what I, and the Institute For Functional Medicine, considers the gold standard in FST. Plus, they give you boiler plate plans to follow as if everyone can follow the same advice. I have never prescribe the same recommendations for more than two people. We are all individuals and we need advice that is specific to our conditions, symptoms, genetics, etc.

I found one direct-to-consumer test that uses hair analysis for FST. This is, in no way, an accurate test for food sensitivities. There are very few things you can test for using hair because there are so many limitations. Please don’t waste your money!

It makes me sad when I see so many people spending their money on poor quality testing when all their trying to do is find answers to why they don’t feel well.

Recently, one of my patients who is a doctor that I respect, asked me if I have seen a specific food sensitivity test ( I am not going to name the test). I said, yes, please don’t tell me you want to order it. He replied, no way, I saw someone’s results and they are a joke. People that understand testing know what a good quality test looks like and what is a joke.

The Best Approach

I highly recommend getting food sensitivity testing but you need to be smart about it. First, find a health care practitioner that orders the test. The quality of the test will be better and you will get the advice & guidance that is specific to your issues. A health care practitioner will:

  • Do a complete medical history on you.
  • Review your medications & supplements.
  • Advise you on which medications & supplements should be stopped prior to the blood draw. This is very important for correct food sensitivity results.
  • Guide you through the removal process.
  • Recommend the right time to re-test depending on your symptoms.
  • Take you through the additional steps to heal. Very important!
  • Recommend supplements that may be needed.
  • Recommend additional testing that may be required.

I am not telling you to see a health care practitioner because I am one. I am telling you because you will avoid; 

  • Wasting your money
  • Disappointment 
  • Wasting time in resolving your issues

Cost Of Food Sensitivity Testing

The cost of the testing that I do is equal to or less than the direct-to-consumer tests that I see online.

I personally do not make money on any tests that I order for my patients. I find that most health care practitioners do. They mark up the cost of the test. In my opinion, this is unethical but not everyone sees it that way. Some practitioners tell me they up-charge the tests for the time spent ordering and reviewing the results.

When I recommend a test, I want the patient to know its because I truly believe they need the test, not because it is an income stream.

Karen Graham, RDN- Functional Medicine Dietitian

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