Everlywell Food Sensitivity Testing – Are Food Sensitivity Tests Legit?
Everlywell must have quite the ad campaign going, because I’d never heard of this brand until the other day, but I keep getting followers sliding into my DMs, asking if their food sensitivity testing is legit.
So, I figured that a post on Everlywell was in order. You know, to answer allll of your questions in one place. I’m efficient like that.
What is Everlywell?
Everlywell is a company that offers home-testing kits for food sensitivities, covid-19, thyroid function, heavy metals, lyme disease, and a lot of other things. They also offer a metabolism test, which measured cortisol, TSH, and free testosterone. Everlywell claims that these hormones ‘can influence your metabolism.’
All of Everlywell’s tests are between $49 and $259 each, which includes the test kit and return postage. They also offer a membership, should you be inclined to obsessively test yourself for everything, all. of. the. time. This week, cholesterol, next week, syphilis!
I don’t really want to speak to the validity of all the tests Everlywell has to offer; it’s enough for me to say that I don’t support at-home testing for things that you should be seeing a doctor for.
For example, if you think you have lyme disease, you need to be treated right away. See your doctor; don’t sit around your house, doing an Everlywell Lyme Test.
If you think you have Covid, don’t do an Everlywell Covid test. There is some controversy anyhow around home Covid-19 tests, in that they’re more likely to give a false negative. Don’t bother. You don’t want to mess around with that stuff – get it professionally done.
Some..okay, many, of the tests offered by Everlywell are total money grabs.
The Everlywell Metabolism Test measures cortisol, free testosterone, and TSH. It will tell you nothing about your actual metabolism, which most people don’t understand anyhow.
Hormone tests, like Everlywell’s Menopause Test, are difficult to interpret. Hormones tend to bounce around all over the place, and having numbers without interpretation – meaning, more than just the ranges that you get back with your results – can be confusing and inaccurate.
The Everlywell Heavy Metals test is just another wellness industry BS dumpster fire made to scare people into believing that they’re walking around with a body full of ‘toxins’ and mercury poisoning. Unless you live and work in a hazardous situation that exposes you to heavy metals, save your money.
Everlywell Food Sensitivity Testing (and Food Sensitivity Testing in General).
Let’s get to why we’re really here, which is Everlywell’s Food Sensitivity tests. And all food sensitivity tests, actually.
Everlywell offers two food sensitivity testing options:
The regular test, for $159 USD, which has a panel of 96 foods.
The comprehensive test, for $259 USD, which has a panel of 204 foods.
Food sensitivities – otherwise known as food intolerances, aren’t allergies, which are mediated by the immune system and therefore completely different.
Food intolerances usually present with gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, or gas. Think, lactose intolerance.
I think because symptoms can be vague, and also because there isn’t really a valid test to diagnose them, the term ‘sensitivity’ is overused, usually used by alternative medicine providers and wellness gurus who want to convince people to adopt a certain diet.
Everlywell’s Food Sensitivity tests measure IgG, which is the most abundant immunoglobulin we have. IgG protects us against pathogens and viruses, which it neutralizes to stop them from attaching to host cells in our bodies.
IgG food sensitivity tests assume that the presence of IgG in relation to a food, means that we are having a ‘reaction’ to that food.
So, if you show high IgG levels to, say, tomatoes, these tests assume that you’re having an immune response to tomatoes.
Having been presented with the results of IgG food sensitivity tests many times in my practice, I can tell you that they’re a sheet of paper with sometimes hundreds of foods, some of which are checked off to indicate the person is ‘sensitive’ to them and should stop consuming them.
I’ve had a lot of people be extremely upset, confused, and anxious as a result of these tests, and needlessly so. They wonder why they’re suddenly ‘sensitive’ to what’s often a significant number of random foods that they’ve always enjoyed without symptoms, and they’re afraid that they’re hurting themselves by continuing to eat those foods.
Fear sells: buy our test, so you can see if you’re secretly hurting yourself with food. Just like everything in the wellness space, it’s the ‘I’m going to convince you that you have a problem, then I’m going to sell you a solution’ BS.
But the truth is, that even if a person has symptoms of an intolerance, they probably aren’t going to find relief with an IgG test.
Because IgG food sensitivity tests are complete garbage.
In fact, IgG food sensitivity tests aren’t accepted as an efficacious diagnostic tool by any – and I mean, ANY – allergy and immunology society in the developed world.
In Everlywell’s FAQs about the test, there’s the question, ‘how accurate is the food sensitivity test?’
Everlywell is clever in answering this. They first talk about how great their labs are and how reliable the results are.
That doesn’t actually answer the question though. Nice try.
They then offer this completely nebulous sentence: “IgG antibody reactivity is based on exposure to the food or foods; therefore, individuals who have since eliminated “problematic” foods from their diet may see a lower reactivity than expected.”
They got one thing right: IgG antibody reactivity IS based on exposure to foods. But they left out some very important information:
IgG is an immune response, whereas food sensitivities have nothing to do with immunity. IgG reactivity is a normal reaction to eating a food – it indicates exposure, not a sensitivity – and may even indicate a tolerance to that food, according to the American Association of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
That’s why so many of my clients were confused about why they were ‘intolerant’ to foods that they’ve eaten without issues for decades. They weren’t all of a suddenly sensitive to oregano and oats; they had recently eaten them, which caused them to be reactive to them in the test.
In fact, studies show that in food allergy desensitizations such as in peanut allergy challenges, IgG levels go up as allergic reactions lessen. Peanut allergy slows goes away, IgG reactivity for peanuts go up.
That doesn’t mean you’re intolerant to peanuts; it means that your body is producing antibodies to them. That’s a good thing.
Even if someone has not recently eaten a food, it can still show up on the IgG sensitivity panel as reactive. When you take one of these tests, you’re not getting a diagnosis of anything.
The IgG food sensitivity test is “inappropriate,” says the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and “positive test results for food-specific IgG are to be expected in normal, healthy adults and children.”
The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy calls IgG tests ‘useless,’ and the Allergy Society of South Africa says, ‘To date…IgG has (not) been shown to have any predictive value in the diagnosis of allergy or intolerances.”
I can’t understand why labs and companies like Everlywell continue to offer them. Okay, I guess I can: $$$$$$.
Everlywell says all of its tests are ‘physician reviewed’ by doctors in each state, but apparently there’s a loophole – because any actual doctor would hopefully be aware of what a scam these tests are.
If you’re having issues that you suspect may be caused by your diet, the best – and really, only – way to determine if you have a food sensitivity, is with an elimination diet.
Removing foods out of your diet, and adding them back one by one, while keeping a food and symptom diary.
Do not waste your money on Everlywell’s IgG test, or any IgG food sensitivity test.
Does ‘natural’ always equal better? Nope! Read why not, here.