A food allergy is a medical condition in which exposure to a specific type of food will induce an adverse immune reaction.
When suffering from a food allergy, the normal immune system reaction of the immune system to the food proteins will trigger a negative immunological response, also known as an allergic reaction. Allergens are the proteins that induce an allergic reaction.
Numerous tests are currently available for at-home testing of both food allergies or food intolerances. Some make the most of the tight relationships between genetics and food allergies to offer genuinely personalized analyses.
In this article, we will go through the scientific basis of food allergy genetic testing. Then, we will introduce some of the at-home food allergy genetic tests available both for humans and dogs.
At first, we should define what food allergy is and why it should not be confused with food sensitivity or food intolerance.
Understanding the differences between Food Allergy and Food Sensitivity/Intolerance
Allergies and sensitivities to food are different in severity and must be understood to best select the type of at-home test needed.
What are food allergies?
Food Allergies are triggered by the immune system’s reaction with symptoms ranging from itchy lips or skin rashes up to life-threatening reactions, including throat constriction and having trouble breathing.
An anaphylactic shock can lead to death and is a real medical emergency.
Food allergies affect 32 million Americans, accounting for one in every ten adults and thirteen children. 5-8% of children and 1-5% of adults are affected by food allergies, primarily milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and soybeans. These eight types of food will be responsible for 90% of the overall food allergies.
Interestingly, the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergy among children in the United States appears to have more than doubled between 1997 and 2008.
Food Allergies will usually occur immediately after ingesting the culprit food due to a spike in the production of immunoglobin-E allergic antibodies (IgE). An IgE-mediated food allergy is the most prevalent form of an allergic response to food. The body will consider the food as an invader and will fight it, sometimes violently.
Patients suffering from food allergies must strictly avoid eating the food leading to the immune cascade. It is also always safe to have an EpiPen (a self-injectable dose of epinephrine) nearby if the adverse immunological response leads to a violent reaction.
What are food sensitivities?
Food Sensitivities relate to the inability of the body to digest certain types of food. For example, people suffering from lactose intolerance will struggle processing milk-based products resulting in diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease, bloating, or other digestive issues.
Food intolerance will not involve an immune reaction but the lack of enzymes to efficiently digest food or sensitivity to caffeine, sugar, or other substances.
Food Marble AIRE is a Medtech gadget that will analyze the amount of hydrogen produced during digestion and inform the users of the food they are likely hyper-sensitive to.
Food Allergy and Genetics
Genetic variables may have a role in Food Allergy, according to persuasive data.
Hereditary factors have a significant role in developing food allergies and are critical risk factors for their occurrence.
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) is essential in immunological control. As a result, it’s no surprise that the HLA genetic locus has been linked to various immunological illnesses, including allergy diseases.
In 1997, researchers discovered a link between HLA and food allergies.
Food Allergy is most likely the product of a complex interaction of genetic and environmental variables.
The study of the impact of food and dietary ingredients on gene expression and how genetic differences affect the nutritional environment is known as nutrigenomics.
It focuses on the molecular interactions of nutrients and other dietary bioactive substances with the genome to understand how certain nutrients or dietary regimens may impact human health.
How to test for Food Allergy?
Conventional Food Allergy Testing
Skin Scratch Allergy Testing has been used for over 100 years and is the gold standard in allergy diagnosis. Skin allergy testing is inexpensive, safe, and simple, and anybody in the office may be trained to do it. In addition, commercial allergens for inhalants are widely accessible, while dietary allergens are more difficult to get.
The fundamental issue with food allergies is that extracts are not stable. A few food allergens are stable, such as peanuts, hen’s eggs, wheat, soybeans, tree nuts, fish, and cocoa, and commercial allergens are accessible. On the other hand, fruit and vegetable allergens are very unstable and rapidly denature, making commercial extracts less dependable. Food allergies may be tested on the skin in infants as young as four months old.
Prick tests can also be used for fruit and vegetable. During this process, food is pricked, and the patient’s skin is gently scratched to analyze for a potential reaction.
Method for Evaluating Candidate Genes
Candidate gene assessment is one method for genetically testing a tendency to allergies. This strategy entails testing the relationship between a gene variation and a specific characteristic or condition, such as allergies, on many people.
Asthma research has shown a link between the development of the illness and the following genes: cytokine genes, cytokine receptor genes, HLA genes, and the CD14 gene.
A fundamental drawback of these investigations and an issue with genetic testing, in general, is the difficulty of replicating studies with a diverse sample of people while still obtaining statistically significant results. Furthermore, results should be viewed with caution due to the possibility that they are the product of a statistical mistake.
Furthermore, compared to the total number of genomes, the number of candidate genes connected to a specific phenotype, that is, the observable features arising from the interaction of its genotype with the environment, is relatively modest.
You may learn about your body’s sensitivity to meals and how your genetic predisposition affects your ability to digest specific foods by taking a DNA test. Using this knowledge, you may make dietary changes and live a better lifestyle.
Are DNA Food Sensitivity Tests accurate?
Commercially accessible DNA testing is gaining popularity. Only a mouse click separates you from learning about your ancestors, health, illness propensity, and so forth. However, concerns have been raised about the scientific trustworthiness of the results obtained by these tests.
Segregation analysis has been used to investigate family heredity to predict the development of allergies or other diseases. This is an analytical approach for fitting observed data to a predicted curve of data points. This implies that genetic testing functions by comparing an individual sample to a preselected pool of data and inferring a level of similarity in the genes: the greater the sample size, the more dependable the results. However, several problems remain, such as how large a sample should be and how to generalize over the entire globe.
Though genetic testing has given many scientists optimism in their quest to discover the etiology of numerous diseases, the findings of these tests should be interpreted with care. Simply because a test indicates that you are allergic to peanut butter does not ensure that this is the case. This is by no means why people should not use genetic tests to discover their possible allergy predisposition. It merely implies that other tests should be performed to corroborate the genetic results before you spend the rest of your life avoiding peanut butter.
What are the companies involved in DNA Food Sensitivity Testing?
All the at-home DNA tests below are more related to Food sensitivities than true Food allergies. These tests will not test for IGG and will concentrate on detecting the genes that are known to be involved in the body’s responses to certain types of foods.
The ultimate goal of these tests is to help users better balance their diet and improve lifestyle.
All these tests rely on the analysis of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms that represent DNA mutations known to be involved in food sensitivities.
The collection process is identical, and users will use a swab to collect some cells allowing them to extract the individual DNA and proceed to the analyses.
To avoid contamination, the main thing to remember is not to eat, drink, or chew gum for 30 minutes before collecting your saliva sample.
EasyDNA has been on the market for DNA testing for numerous years and offers a comprehensive panel of genetic tests for humans and pets.
Contrary to other companies, the DNA will be extracted from a hair sample. As a result, the test findings are unaffected by hair coloring or treatments.
More than 900 food and non-food items are tested, and the results are processed and uploaded in just five days.
Food intolerance testing examines regular meals and everyday refrigerator items, as well as non-food objects such as pets and pollens. A nutritional deficit, metal toxicity, gut biome, and hormonal balance analysis are also part of the testing.
Overall, the testing involves a thorough examination of the gut biome, digestive health, hormonal abnormalities, nutritional deficiencies, and common metal allergies, making it one of the best available.
The report is pervasive and includes actionable results to improve the diet and lifestyle. It includes information about:
- Food Sensitivity Analysis divided into Sensitive, Mild or No Reaction
- Non-Food Sensitivity Analysis
- Hormone Analysis
- Gut Biome Analysis
- Digestive Health and Metabolism Analysis
- Metal Sensitivities Analysis
- Mineral and Nutrients Analysis
- Vitamins Analysis
- Additives Analysis
With more than ten years of experience and 400,000 processed samples, EasyDNA is undoubtedly a strong choice.
Intolerance Test by EasyDNA
Price when reviewed: From $99.00
The test will offer a comprehensive report beyond the analyses of ALDH2 for alcohol tolerance, CYP1A2 for caffeine metabolism, HLA DQ8, and HLA DQ2.5 for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, and MCM6 for lactose intolerance.
The pricing is very reasonable, even though one of the drawbacks is that the samples are not processed in a CLIA-certified laboratory.
MightlyDNA has to be considered an entry-level test to know more about potential genes related to food sensitivities.
The results come as a 20-pages report that, despite being very scientifically orientated, can be a little bit overwhelming for some users.
Food Intolerance Test by Mighty DNA
Price when reviewed: From $79.95
HomeDNA will analyze over 30 genetic markers proven to be related to sensitivity.
HomeDNA Food & Pet Sensitivity is a DNA test that reveals how the genes may increase individual sensitivity in areas related to:
- Cow Milk Protein
- Other Foods
- Pet Dander
The report includes the analyzed genes used to compute the levels of sensitivities and actionable lifestyle and diet changes.
Food&Pet Sensitivity by HomeDNA
Price when reviewed: Check on Amazon
Food Allergies and food sensitivities should not be overlooked. A DNA food allergy test or food sensitivity test is the first step towards a better life. If knowledge is power, an At-Home food allergy DNA test is a simple way to know better the foods your diet should concentrate on.