There’s nothing worse than eating something, and then hours later you’ve never felt worse, whether it’s from an upset stomach or migraine-like symptoms. If you’ve ever experienced a familiar situation, you may have a food sensitivity.
After avoiding food allergies my whole life, the saying, “You are what you eat,” has never been more true for me now. Within the past few years, I’ve had at least four bad reactions to shellfish dishes. At first I thought it was a bad case of food poisoning, but after the third time, it felt like more, so I always assumed I had developed a sensitivity to shellfish. When I learned my sister was taking an at-home food sensitivity test from the company EverlyWell to test her sensitivity to gluten, I knew I’d finally found an easy way to figure out what might be going on without the hassle of going to a specialist.
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EverlyWell is similar to companies like Ancestry and 23andMe in the way that the test is ordered online, and your sample is collected at home and sent back to be evaluated by a lab. But while Ancestry and 23andMe use a sample of spit to test your DNA for genes and ancestry information, EverlyWell uses a blood sample for its 31 different types of at-home tests, including a food sensitivity test, a sleep and stress test, a heart health test, and seven women-specific tests including a breast milk DHA test and a women’s fertility test. If you’ve ever felt like something isn’t totally in-sync with your body or have had new symptoms appear such as weight gain, lethargy, migraines, bloating, or adult acne, the EverlyWell food sensitivity test—which has more than 2,000 five-star reviews—could be an easier and more affordable option for you, especially if you’ve already seen a doctor, and they can’t seem to tell you what’s wrong.
During my experience with EverlyWell, I learned the difference between a food sensitivity and a food allergy, which surprisingly, yes, are two different things. It’s important to know the difference before ordering a test because if you’ve recently had an immediate reaction to a specific food, it’s advised to consult an allergist first.
So what’s the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity?
EverlyWell included the following explanation with my results: “A food sensitivity is different than an immediately life-threatening food allergy. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody, the most abundant circulating antibody in our immune system, can cause a delayed immune reaction, and they are never life-threatening. IgG reactivities may play a role in food sensitivities. Studies suggest that an IgG immune response may contribute to headaches, joint pain, eczema, gut malabsorption, and other chronic conditions. Identifying your sensitivity to certain foods can be difficult since you probably eat many different types of food every single day. While reactivity does not always correlate with symptoms, it serves as a tool to help you assess your food intake, guide an elimination diet, and hopefully get you to feeling your best.”
How does the EverlyWell food sensitivity test work?
EverlyWell states that the food sensitivity test “measures the IgG reactivity levels against foods that you have consumed in the past four weeks, since after 28 days our bodies begin to break down IgG molecules that are not being actively used. It takes on average six to 12 months to completely remove a certain class of IgG molecules (for some people it may be longer). Therefore, if you have already identified a symptom causing food and removed it from your diet, you would expect to not see very high reactivity levels against that eliminated food item.” So if you really want to test your sensitivity to a particular food, it’s best to have eaten that food recently.
To finally get to the bottom of my possible shellfish sensitivity, I roped in two other editors to experience the test with me. When you order the test online, you receive everything you need to complete the test in a kit that’s delivered straight to your mailbox, but first don’t forget to register your test kit’s number online. The kit includes detailed instructions on how to collect your blood sample, two single-use lancets for pricking your finger, an alcohol pad, gauze and bandages, a blood card for collecting your sample, and a prepaid shipping label to send back the card once you’ve finishing collecting.
After receiving the kit and clenching my teeth through the finger prick (it only hurts for a second!), I sent the box back and within three days I had received an email confirmation that the kit was received and was being sent off to the lab for testing. After waiting only eight more days, I received my results, which you can easily export to a PDF for yourself or for your doctor.
When looking at my results, I was surprised to see that I had a mild reactivity to 23 foods and a low reactivity to 73 foods, which all ranged across several different food groups including seafood, dairy, meat, spice, grains, vegetables, fruits, and seeds and nuts. EverlyWell’s reactivity scale divides the foods you may be sensitive to in four tiers: Class 3 (High Reactivity), Class 2 (Moderate Reactivity), Class 1 (Mild Reactivity), and Class 0 (Low Reactivity).
It seemed pretty crazy to me at first to have 95 different foods on my list of possible minor reactions, especially foods that I eat all the time like broccoli, wheat, and chicken, but knowing this list will make me more mindful to pay attention to my body’s reactions when eating these foods. My ultimate goal was to test for all possible shellfish, yet only crab showed up under “mild reactivity,” and then clam, shrimp, and scallop only showed up under “low reactivity,” but this is most likely due to not eating any shellfish within the last four weeks. Unfortunately, since I had been avoiding shellfish, that’s probably why it didn’t show up with a higher reactivity for me, so the information still feels pretty vague.
Ultimately, I might take my results to a doctor or allergist for follow-up testing. While I definitely expected those shellfish foods to show a higher reactivity (after my four bad reactions), I’ll continue listening to my body because ultimately, it knows best. But if you do tend to have foods listed with higher levels of reactivity, EverlyWell provides a few easy steps on how to address major food sensitivities by starting an elimination diet or checking hidden ingredient sources in pre-packaged food or supplements.
EverlyWell food sensitivity test reviews:
Since everyone’s body and food reactions are unique, we wanted a few people to test out EverlyWell for a full review—read more about my colleagues’ experiences below.
“I had been dealing with bloating and stomach issues for a while now and suspected the cause was due to food intolerances, so when I was given the opportunity to try EverlyWell’s food sensitivity test I jumped at the chance. The kit itself was super easy to use, though I must admit the finger prick hurt more than I expected it to. It took about three weeks for me to get my results and was surprised to see that the ingredient I had the biggest reaction to was Brewer’s Yeast—a by-product of the beer and wine making process. I was less surprised that I also had sensitivities to certain cheeses, but I’m happy that I now know which options to avoid adding to my cheese plates. Taking the test has definitely made me re-think my drink and food choices, and I think it’s definitely helping. It’s only been a few weeks since I’ve been adapting my diet to the results, but I’m already starting to see a change and feel much better.”
—Rebecca Carhart, Ecommerce Reviews Writer
“I like the idea behind the EverlyWell food sensitivity test and think it has the ability to help many people understand their bodies and potential food sensitivities better, but unfortunately, I personally don’t feel like I gained any special insights or learned more about my body through the test. I like that the test was easy to use, included clear instructions, was pretty customizable, and the fact that they made it easy to send it in and sent results to you via email, as well as text updates. But do I think it’s worth the hefty price tag? Probably not, at least for me—it told me that I had a ‘mild’ or ‘low’ sensitivity to literally every food in their test, which I can’t imagine is completely true. So unfortunately, I didn’t learn anything new about my body through the test. I think it’s a smart concept but I wish it had helped me learn more about my body.”
—Chelsey Hamilton, Ecommerce Associate Editor
While all three of us had different experiences, I couldn’t help but love the ease of an at-home test—no appointments had to be made, the test came directly to me, and the entire process was super simple and fast. I would definitely use EverlyWell again for some of company's other tests. To try it out for yourself, head to everlywell.com to choose the test that’s best for you.
EverlyWell Food Sensitivity Test
To buy: $159; everlywell.com.
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