At-Home DNA Test Can Determine Your Food Sensitivities
Start-up EverlyWell's has teamed up with Helix to check for gluten and lactose intolerance, among others.
You're probably familiar with at-home DNA testing. Several brands have emerged in recent years, allowing consumers to do everything from conduct paternity tests to check for devastating diseases—all without ever visiting your doctor's office. Now, a company wants to help you discover your food sensitivities so you'll know whether you really need to go gluten-free or if your favorite ice cream is causing you digestive discomfort.
EverlyWell, an at-home lab testing startup, offers a bevy of tests you can do at home with a simple prick of a your finger and a mail-in kit. But one of its newest offerings is its Helix-partnered food sensitivity test—not to be confused with a food allergy test—which tests a person's sensitivity to (and the impact your DNA has in processing) 96 foods to see how well you digest gluten, dairy, and wheat.
The test isn't necessary for everyone. But if you've ever wondered whether you can eat gluten, for example, or if the belly bloat you experience after noshing on cheese is all in your head or a really bad reaction in your body, the test might be for you.
Using the blood sample you provide, EverlyWell measures your immune response to those 96 foods and determines whether you really shouldn't be partaking in them. You'll get results of your own reactivity to the foods on a scale of zero to three, with a zero signaling you're good to eat on, and a three indicating you're going to have a bad reaction.
Based on our own research, very few other companies currently offer a such a test. 23andMe offers a wellness test that will analyze your risk of lactose intolerance. And some labs offer at-home kits to test for food allergies (not sensitivities), but those tests are not available for direct purchase, but can be bought at a doctor's office.
It's worth noting that these EverlyWell tests don't have FDA approval. Instead, they are considered laboratory-developed tests, and can operate without FDA guidance.
EverlyWell worked with Helix to develop the tests. Helix's labs are Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-certified under guidelines from the FDA and accredited by the College of American Pathologists, with tests validated in accordance with those organizations' requirements.