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The Limits of Food Sensitivity Testing in Optimizing Gut Health

In the realm of holistic health, food sensitivity testing has gained significant traction, with companies like Everlywell making these tests directly accessible to consumers. Many functional medicine practitioners also utilize these tests frequently. As a functionally trained practitioner, my own training included learning the Mediator Release Test, and I occasionally use Vibrant’s Zoomers to look at peptide level food reactions.

While these tests undeniably have their value, relying solely on food sensitivity testing as the primary method for addressing gut issues is a flawed strategy. Often, the approach stops at identifying foods to avoid, providing a list to the client, and sending them on their way. This, in my view, does little to help clients understand their dietary triggers or manage their symptoms effectively.

The Bigger Picture: Beyond Food Sensitivity

From my extensive experience with clients, I have observed that many struggle with layers of hidden stressors, including toxicity, which can be significant root causes of chronic illnesses and gut symptoms. When deciding how to allocate resources for functional testing, I often find more value in tests that examine these root causes—like toxins or hidden infections—rather than just food sensitivities.

I have consistently seen better results using elimination diets compared to food sensitivity testing. This approach not only identifies triggers but also educates clients about their diets, helping them make more informed food choices and understand the reasoning behind them.

The Limitations of Food Sensitivity Testing

Food sensitivity tests, such as IgG tests, don't capture all potential irritants in food, such as FODMAPs, fiber content, or various plant toxins like lectins and phytates. These components can be especially problematic for those with weakened digestive systems and can contribute significantly to gut issues. Thus, food sensitivity tests are not considered the gold standard for identifying all potential food reactions.

Moreover, my personal and professional experience has shown that food sensitivity tests often lead to a never-ending cycle of new foods to avoid. This cycle can become frustrating and counterproductive, as it doesn't address the underlying causes of the sensitivities.

A More Sustainable Approach

In my practice, I emphasize the importance of understanding and addressing the root causes of gut symptoms. This involves a comprehensive approach that includes dietary adjustments, identification of stressors, and other functional tests that provide a broader picture of a client's health.

The ultimate goal is to empower clients to achieve sustainable gut health, which often involves a long-term commitment to avoiding certain trigger foods. However, this is a personal choice that clients can make based on how they feel during and after the dietary changes.


Food sensitivity testing has its place in a holistic approach to health, but it should not be the sole focus. A comprehensive strategy that includes dietary changes, education, and root cause analysis is often more effective in managing gut health and achieving long-term wellness.

For those ready to explore a more comprehensive approach to improving gut health, embracing an elimination diet and investigating deeper causes of symptoms might be the key to finding relief and restoring balance.

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