Medically reviewed by Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD
Can A Nutritional DNA Test Diagnose Food Allergies?
Nutritional DNA tests are an incredible tool that can tell us many things about how our bodies process and react to specific foods. However, one of the things it can’t do is tell us what foods may cause allergic reactions. Food allergies are related to the immune system and should be diagnosed with an allergy test from your physician. In this article, we’ll explain the difference between a medical food allergy, a food sensitivity, and how your body reacts to both. We’ll also discuss how a nutritional DNA test can help identify your food sensitivities.
Food Allergies vs. Food Sensitivities
What is a food allergy?
Food allergies occur when your immune system considers certain foods as harmful. This causes an allergic reaction, as your body attempts to fight the substance. There are two types of food allergies:
Immunoglobulin E (IgE): The body’s immune system produces antibodies called IgE, triggering anaphylaxis or other life-threatening allergic reactions. This is a common response to those allergic to nuts and seeds, shellfish, and bee stings.
Non-IgE: The body’s immune system reacts to the food, causing non-life-threatening symptoms. This type of reaction commonly affects the gastrointestinal and digestive tract, and often presents itself in the form of vomiting or diarrhea. This allergic reaction is often mistaken for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
Food allergies can be life threatening. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a food allergy, please consult your physician. A nutritional DNA test can not diagnose food allergies.
What is a food sensitivity?
Food sensitivities are often misdiagnosed as Non-IgE food allergies. That’s because the body’s response can appear similar. However, the main difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity is which system reacts. Food allergies affect the immune system, whereas food sensitivities affect the digestive system.
Food sensitivities are quite common and cause non-life-threatening symptoms in the digestive tract. This is the body’s natural response to food when it’s unable to process or digest properly. An example of a common food sensitivity is lactose intolerance - a disorder caused by the body’s inability to break down sugar in dairy products.
Food sensitivities are non-life-threatening, but can be rather uncomfortable. They can also affect your overall health and wellness. If you’d like to learn more about your food sensitivities, we recommend taking a nutritional DNA test.
Immune System vs. Digestive System
The immune system and the digestive system work together within the body to maintain your health. Although they do so behind-the-scenes, these two systems are strongly interconnected, and rely on each other to function.
What is the immune system?
The immune system is a network of tissues and cells that protect the body from infection. This system keeps track of each germ (microbe) it has encountered in order to fight it more effectively in the future. When your body suffers from a food allergy, the immune system deems the microbes within that food harmful. Therefore, it reacts in an attempt to protect your body.
What is the digestive system?
The digestive system is made of the gastrointestinal tract and accessory organs of digestion. These organs are used to break down food particles into smaller pieces until their nutrients can be absorbed into the body. The digestive system is quite long, extending from one end of your body to the other. This system is responsible for absorbing essential nutrients and aiding your immune system in protecting your body.
When you have a food sensitivity, your digestive tract is unable to properly break down or absorb the nutrients in a given food. This causes gastrointestinal upset, like diarrhea, bloating and other symptoms. Although these sensitivities do not directly affect your immune system, you can compromise your overall health by consuming foods that your body is unable to digest.
Common Food Sensitivities
Some of the most common food sensitivities include:
- Lactose Intolerance: sensitivity to the sugar found in dairy products.
- Gluten Intolerance: sensitivity to proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. Not to be confused with celiac disease (gluten allergy).
- Caffeine Intolerance: hypersensitivity to the caffeine chemical, causing rapid heartbeat, anxiety, jitters, etc.
- Fructose Intolerance: difficulty absorbing fructose into the bloodstream, causing it to travel to the large intestine.
There are dozens of known food sensitivities. Some people suffer from multiple. It’s also possible to experience food sensitivities and food allergies at the same time.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of a food sensitivity, consider taking a nutritional DNA test. Using the science of nutrigenomics, our nutritional DNA test may be able to identify possible food sensitivities. With this knowledge in hand, we can create a personalized nutrition plan for your body’s best health.