Data about oneself has become a hot commodity, and, also, one that I cherish. This feeble realization did not just occur to me, but I think about it now as I have recently received my results from the Everlywell Food Sensitivity test. As the name implies, the test measures one’s immune response (more specifically, antibody reactivity) to a small battery of foods. (Note that Everlywell also has a separate test that measures allergic reactions to foods).
Although I generally find more empirical evidence to explain my body functions to be a good thing, I did not front the 100-plus dollars out of pure curiosity. Rather, this summer I have been feeling quite out of sorts (though this was most likely due to a suspected case of Lyme’s disease), so, I thought that now would be a good time to figure out whether everything was a’ight food-sensitivity-wise to rule out my diet as a possible culprit.
Taking the food sensitivity test was simple. After paying, I received the small testing kit in the mail. There were written instructions in the box, as well as a website link to a video showing how to take the test. Unlike other at-home tests, which require the collection of saliva (gross), the food sensitivity test requires a blood sample (eek!). Although the video instructions made the blood collection look one-two-and-done simple, I admittingly found this to be a daunting task (even though I have never suffered any discomfort from blood).
Blood would be collected from the tip of one’s finger. In the kit, there was a small plastic container with a cap on top. Upon removing the cap, a narrow white tube is exposed (note that the needle is not visible). Jabbing the tube into the tip of the finger would quickly and efficiently launch the needle through the skin and initiate the thin trickle of blood (in theory). As easy as this sounds, there was a lot of prep work involved, as the instructions advised that one perform light cardiovascular activity (like jumping jacks) and wash one’s hands with warm water beforehand to get the blood flowing.
My circulation must be poor because it took forever to collect the blood onto the paper collection card. At one point, I felt as though I was milking my finger like an udder, stroking it top down and squeezing it gingerly to encourage the flow. In the end, I did not even fully fill up the five printed circles with blood (but my sample was still accepted all the same — phew!).
After sealing the kit with my sample, I loaded everything into the supplied box and affixed the prepaid shipping label onto the package to be sent off to a local laboratory. Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised at the speed with which everything was processed and my results were received in the app.
One reason I was eager to take the test was because I have heard “success” stories from others who had underwent the process. For example, one friend complained of chronic fatigue and brain fog until she submitted to testing and found that she had a gluten sensitivity. For me, I had no such grand revelation.
The results were as follows — each of the 96 foods tested were grouped into reactivity categories: normal, mild, moderate, and high reactivity. My results were unremarkable as far as food sensitivities go. Out of the 96 foods tested all but seven were ranked as “normal reactivity.” The seven remaining foods all ranked in the “mild’ category. One food was chicken (which I do not eat) and another was winter squash, which looks too waxy and decorative to be eaten anyway. My highest-ranking reactive food was egg whites (not the yolks, just the healthy, wholeswome white part), which was a 46 on the reactivity scale (where 17 and 58 are the low-high mild reactivity cutoffs). I found this to be odd, as I eat eggs (both whites and yolks, I don’t discriminate) semi regularly and have felt zero discomfort with their ingestion. However, there was one nut on my list of mildly reactive foods (which scored a 29) that has made my mouth tingle in the past, which was a small ah-ha to me, I suppose. Two vegetables also popped up as mildly reactive, but again, I have never noticed anything out of the ordinary digestion-wise with these foods.
I grew up thinking that I had a number of inconvenient food allergies (this is a long story), but as I grew older, I began to experiment more with my diet and found that the avoidance of certain foods was totally unwarranted. I’m pretty happy to now have a test to confirm that my body is more-or-less accepting of all foods (another pleasant surprise).
I do not know how accurate these food tests are. Some people that I have talked to have discredited this sort of testing for their lack of scientific rigor, regardless, if you are seeking answers to your questions about your food sensitivity health, Everywell just may be a good place to start.
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