Kristy is a licensed registered dietitian nutritionist and trained culinary professional. She has worked in a variety of settings, including the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Rouge Tomate.
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As more people increase their awareness about how food impacts health, they are paying attention to how certain foods make them feel. In some cases, individual symptoms of discomfort may be related to food intolerance or food sensitivity that would be resolved if they were eliminated from the diet. At-home food sensitivity tests are designed to be a simple test you can take to assess your body’s immune response to certain foods and determine if you have any food intolerances or sensitivities, or in some cases, food allergies.
There are many at-home food sensitivity tests on the market, many with lofty marketing claims that can be misleading. We’ve done the work for you and chosen the best at-home food sensitivity tests available today.
Why We Chose It: One of the only at-home tests for food allergens as well as celiac disease, Imaware provides accurate, science-backed tests for a variety of allergies and sensitivities.
What We Like
Tests for IgE response
Accepts FSA/HSA cards
Well-vetted by scientists and clinical experts
What We Don’t Like
One of the more expensive tests
Unlike most other home tests that only test for food sensitivities, Imaware offers testing for true food allergies, not just intolerances. Imaware provides an at-home kit for providing a blood sample with a simple finger prick, and results are available within seven days after the lab receives the sample. It was the first company to have its data and methods peer-reviewed by the scientific and medical community as part of a process to validate its claims.
Kits are available for the basic IgE Allergy Test, which screens for 28 food allergens and 40 respiratory allergens, as well as a Celiac Disease Screening Test, Thyroid Screening Test, and Vitamin D Deficiency Test. All tests use reliable, clinically approved biomarkers for diagnosis and are physician-reviewed. Once the results are in, you will receive access to a secure patient portal with the complete results and actionable reports for the following steps to properly manage your condition if the results showed any areas of concern. Pricing varies depending on the kit: The IgE Allergy Test is $299, whereas the Celiac Disease Screening costs $99.
Why We Chose It: Cerascreen provides home health test kits for detecting both allergies and sensitivities via a blood sample.
What We Like
Tests for IgE antibodies
What We Don’t Like
Nutrition education not provided by RDN
No scientific advisory board
The German-based health company Cerascreen provides home health tests to consumers in over 20 nations. Health test kits are available to detect both food allergies and sensitivities with a small blood sample. Using certified lab analysis, Cerescreen's tests will detect specific IgE and IgG4 antibodies associated with food allergies and sensitivities. Results are available within one or two days from the time the sample reaches the lab.
Cerescreen offers several levels of tests that range in the number of items each one can detect, including a test just for identifying allergies to 38 potential foods and one that claims to identify up to 208 food sensitivities in addition to the 44 allergens. After you receive your results, you can book a free call with a nutrition consultant to help guide you with recommendations. Cerescreen also offers supplemental nutrition and fitness courses for those interested in more education beyond the test results. Prices for home food sensitivity kits start at $149.
Food sensitivity tests are not meant to replace a medical diagnosis, and it's recommended that you discuss your test results with a doctor to verify their validity and determine the next steps.
Why We Chose It: Ombre Lab offers an at-home kit to assess an individual’s gut microbiome based on DNA sequencing and provides personalized recommendations.
What We Like
Simple at-home test
Personalized dietary recommendations
Detailed explanation of gut microbiome with supplemental education
What We Don’t Like
Shipping not included
Research indicates the gut microbiome is linked to more than just gut health and can affect nearly all body systems. Maintaining a balanced gut microbiome rich in diverse beneficial bacteria can be achieved through diet. But how do you know if your gut microbiome is optimal or not? Ombre Lab offers at-home gut microbiome testing with personalized dietary and probiotic recommendations. Based on DNA analysis of a fecal sample, Ombre Lab uses a wellness score algorithm to analyze amounts of probiotics, beneficial bacteria, and potentially harmful bacteria and compares it to the American Gut Project results. This comparison is used to calculate gut microbiome diversity and the percentage of beneficial bacteria in each individual.
The at-home kit is integrated with an app that provides a digital health report with recommended probiotic supplements and foods, including details on which strains of bacteria to increase and decrease—the goal being to optimize beneficial bacteria in the gut and reduce unwanted pathogenic bacteria. Customers can expect results from the test within two weeks of Ombre Lab receiving the sample. The at-home testing kit is priced at $99, with options to add a probiotic subscription.
Why We Chose It: FoodMarble uses advanced technology for at-home hydrogen breath testing to assess how well the body digests certain foods.
What We Like
Backed by science
Specific focus on FODMAPs
Ability to track changes over time
What We Don’t Like
Has to be used multiple times to get comprehensive results
FoodMarble has developed a unique personal device for hydrogen breath testings to identify how your body digests food in real-time. The hydrogen breath testing technology used to be available only in hospitals but is now accessible in your own home. The idea is that the breath test will pick up on hydrogen produced during the fermentation of poorly digested food as it remains in the large intestine. FoodMarble’s device has been researched and validated by leading scientists against the gold-standard clinical device.
Customers order the device and then download and install the FoodMarble app to track breath tests over time to identify trends and insights. The app is also integrated for logging food intake, symptoms, sleep, and stress to promote overall wellness. Also, FoodMarble offers a supplemental FODMAP Program, which tests for the body’s response to specific groups of carbohydrates known as FODMAPs, which in general are poorly digested. The device costs a one-time fee of $185 with free shipping. Using the app is free.
There are many home health tests that make unregulated claims for identifying food sensitivities and intolerances and it can be challenging to find the right fit for you. If you are interested in a kit to either identify a potential food allergy or help you narrow down a selection of foods prior to starting an elimination diet, Cerascreen is a good choice. If you suspect you may have some food intolerances, specifically to FODMAPs, FoodMarble’s easy home breath device can help you determine how you digest certain foods over time. If you are interested in learning more about your gut health and how to optimize your microbiome through probiotic supplements and foods, Ombre Lab is the best fit. Iamaware is our pick for best overall because of its commitment to using evidence-based science and cutting-edge tests that assess numerous areas of well-being, including food allergies, celiac disease, vitamin D deficiency, and more.
What Is the Difference Between a Food Allergy, a Food Intolerance, and a Food Sensitivity?
There are important distinctions between a food allergy, intolerance, and sensitivity. The primary difference is that a food allergy is an immune response triggered by a particular protein in a specific food, whereas a food sensitivity or intolerance is a digestive response to a food that is not life-threatening. There are eight foods identified in the U.S. as being responsible for the majority of food allergies: cow’s milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and wheat. And in 2020, the FDA started encouraging voluntary labeling of sesame on ingredient lists (for example, if the sesame paste tahini is used, the label should say “sesame” and not just “tahini”) due to rising reports of sesame allergies.
Severe food allergies are most accurately diagnosed from a skin prick test or blood test that will measure the body’s production of antibodies, known as Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which the body produces as a way of protecting itself. Some people with food allergies cannot even consume trace amounts of the food without experiencing serious or even potentially life-threatening reactions. Therefore, those with food allergies need to be hypervigilant about cross-contamination during meal preparation with utensils, cutting boards, serve-ware, and cooking equipment.
Food intolerances and sensitivities, on the other hand, will vary in severity based on the amount of the trigger food that is consumed. For example, those with lactose intolerance, which is classified as an intolerance and not an allergy, may be able to tolerate a small piece of hard cheese but would have severe discomfort after drinking a whole glass of milk. Similarly, those with intolerance to a group of fermentable carbohydrates called FODMAPS (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) can also tolerate small amounts but will experience digestive discomfort with increased intake. A food sensitivity is not a clinically defined term but is used commonly to describe any type of discomfort or negative symptom that occurs after eating specific foods; food sensitivities may or may not include a food intolerance but should not be used interchangeably with a food allergy. Food intolerances can often be diagnosed with the hydrogen breath test but for other food sensitivities, an elimination diet is an effective tool to identifying trigger foods. Some of the tests highlighted here may help narrow down a selection of foods to use as a starting point prior to elimination.
What Are the Symptoms of a Food Sensitivity vs. a Food Allergy?
Symptoms of a food sensitivity are commonly linked to the digestive system and can include diarrhea, bloating, nausea, reflux, and/or abdominal pain, but they also may include skin rashes, headaches, and fatigue. Symptoms may present themselves within a few hours of eating the food or be delayed by up to 48 hours, making it difficult to diagnose the trigger food. Symptoms can also vary based on the amount of trigger food ingested.
Food allergies, on the other hand, can cause digestive problems but also hives, swollen airways, and even life-threatening anaphylaxis. Researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under age 18 (that’s 1 in 10 adults and 1 in 13 children). Some children outgrow their food allergy as they get older, particularly allergies to milk, eggs, wheat, and soy, but allergies to tree nuts, peanuts, fish, and shellfish are usually lifelong. It is also common for children with a food allergy to be allergic to more than one food.
A food allergy can produce life-threatening symptoms, even when a trigger food is ingested in trace amounts.
Are Results of At-Home Tests Accurate?
The options in our list use the most scientifically backed tests available for home use, but there may still be some limitations. The best way to confirm a food sensitivity is to follow up with an elimination diet that removes a set of potential trigger foods and, if symptoms resolve, adds them back one by one to narrow down the foods causing the symptoms.
Using the hydrogen breath test is an approved method of diagnosing certain food intolerances, but it is still recommended to follow up with a physician after taking the home test to officially diagnose and manage your intolerance. Similarly, for any IgE tests that aim to identify allergens, individuals should speak with a doctor to discuss their results to rule out any potential false positives.
IgE vs. IgG Tests
Allergen-specific IgE tests measure your antibody response to specific foods. The IgE test also focuses on the specific types of antibodies that are directly associated with allergic reactions. On the other hand, the IgG tests commonly used in some food sensitivity testing platforms can be misleading because higher levels of IgG may also be a normal response to increased or repeated exposure to a certain food and actually indicate the body’s tolerance to that food rather than correlate with a sensitivity or intolerance. The risk of IgG tests is that they may prompt people to eliminate too many foods unnecessarily because of misleading positive results.
IgG tests are not endorsed by the medical community or organizations such as the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Over a dozen at-home tests were considered when researching for this article. Factors taken into consideration for the final list were the method of testing, use of certified labs, the company’s support in the clinical and scientific community, customer reviews, and pricing. Cerascreen, for example, was chosen because of its ability to test for both IgE and IgG if the consumer wants both options. We selected FoodMarble because of its focus on food intolerances that affect the digestive system in real-time.
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.