December 22, 2022
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Is DNA Testing for Food Sensitivity Accurate?

DNA tests offer great ways to learn about our ancestry, heritage, sociology in the olden days, and medical predispositions. But what about food sensitivity?
Tomohiro Takano

With coronavirus putting Americans on edge and scrambling to live a healthier lifestyle, many people are looking toward their specific body composition. Many different factors are at play in terms of health, predispositions, and lifestyle choices.

DNA tests offer great ways to learn about our ancestry, heritage, sociology in the olden days, and medical predispositions. But what about food sensitivity?

Here is everything you need to know about DNA testing for food sensitivity—and is it accurate?:

What is DNA Testing?

DNA testing is when you provide a sample specimen for lab analysis. The specimen can include:

·       Blood

·       Spit

·       Semen

·       Urine

·       Hair

Your unique genetic composition will be revealed based on the DNA findings and DNA matching to others who share your DNA. This can also include medical history and potential medical issues in the future.

What is Food Sensitivity?

Some people believe that food sensitivities are developing from genetically modified food. What do the doctors say? British Allergy Foundation shared that food sensitivities and intolerances may be more common than food allergies, and neither involve the immune system.

Specific foods can trigger a negative response the moment they reach your digestive tract. Symptoms can include:

·       gas

·       bloating

·       nausea

·       constipation

·       cramping

·       diarrhea

·       and more

Rarely are food sensitivities life-threatening. Food allergies tell a different story and can be life-threatening.

Since the immune system is not involved, food sensitivities have more to do with the inability to digest and process specific food. Your body will not be able to properly break it down and will therefore react.

What Makes You Sensitive to Certain Foods?

There are a variety of factors that lead to food sensitivities. The most common involve:

·       not having the right enzymes to properly break down and digest certain foods

·       reactions to preservatives and food additives i.e. artificial colors, MSG, sulfites

·       naturally occurring sugars in certain foods i.e. Brussels sprouts, onions, broccoli

·       pharmacological factors i.e. caffeine

DNA Testing and Food Sensitivity

DNA testing now offers food sensitivity results. Eight key areas are tested including:

·       egg

·       gluten

·       lactose

·       peanut

·       additional foods

·       histamine

·       pet dander

·       cow milk protein

The results are assessed by analysis of sensitivity-specific DNA markers. You can then take the results to your physician and adjust your habits and lifestyle accordingly…but how accurate are these tests?

How Accurate are Food Sensitivity Tests?

Currently, there are no DNA tests available that detect true food allergies. However, the DNA at-home tests do claim to provide the information that distinguishes what foods you could be sensitive to based on genetics.

You will also note that websites for these DNA tests offering food sensitivity information detail that they are not to be used for diagnostic purposes. They concurrently do not provide any true medical information. Food sensitivities can be caused by a combination of genetic factors and environmental factors; therefore, the usefulness remains inconclusive.

DNA tests offer a window onto the diet of our ancestors and the optimal nutrition for our genetic makeup.  Are these tests accurate enough to reveal food sensitivities?

Scientists have established the genetic basis of certain food allergies through studies of identical twins.  DNA tests can now identify specific genes which are linked to immunological reactions to gluten and dairy, as well as to suggest possible interactions with eggs, peanuts, histamines, and pets. 

On the other hand, DNA testing for food sensitivities is a more generalized approach that involves looking at one’s nutritional genome for clues as to which foods are best for one’s metabolism based on genetics.  Because food sensitivities are largely driven by environmental factors, DNA tests cannot “prove” that a genetic marker will necessarily cause a given food sensitivity.

The Genomelink Nutrition Report generates a metabolic profile based on how your ancestors subsisted and combines it with the most current nutritional science to help you optimize your food choices based on your DNA.

The Difference Between Food Allergies and Sensitivities 

Food allergies and food sensitivities refer to two different health conditions.

Food allergies are caused by a reaction of an individual’s immune system to a particular food.  Food allergies can be dangerous.  In the most acute instances, they can result in anaphylactic shock and even death.  (This is why airlines sometimes serve pretzels when a passenger has a peanut allergy.) 

Food sensitivities (also sometimes referred to as food intolerances) refer to negative reactions of one’s digestive system to certain foods.  Food sensitivities may be uncomfortable but are not life-threatening.  They typically involve gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, nausea, constipation, cramping and diarrhea.   


What Causes Food Sensitivities?

Food sensitivities occur when the body is unable to properly digest specific foods. Food sensitivities are typically linked to environmental conditions (such as lifestyle, bacteria, chemicals, malnutrition, substance abuse, etc.)

Some of the more common factors involved in food sensitivities include:

·           Absence of the certain enzymes to properly break down and digest certain foods

·           Preservatives and food additives (i.e., artificial colors, MSG, sulfites)

·           Sugars in certain foods (i.e., Brussels sprouts, onions, broccoli)

·           Pharmacological factors (i.e., caffeine, alcohol)


Other Testing for Food Sensitivities and Allergies

While DNA tests can identify markers for food allergies to gluten, dairy, eggs, and histamines, traditional doctor-administered tests are still the most accurate.  These tests include antibody skin prick tests and blood panels. 

The best method for identifying food sensitivities is to use dietary restrictions, such as eliminating foods and/or a provocation test (re-introducing small amounts of the food in a controlled setting to test for a negative reaction).  The Genomelink Nutrition Report can help by providing a nutritional analysis and food recommendations based on our genetics.

Tomohiro Takano
Tomohiro Takano
Co-Founder and CEO