ST. LOUIS ( -- Meg Pfeuffer is a mom of three young boys.

In the midst of her family's busy schedule, she's tired of struggling with stomach pain.

"I am always the one with the stomach ache, always the one with the food bothering me," she said.

Pete Jones also has three children.

He's focused on food right now as he works to lose more than 50 pounds.

"I want to be good, healthy dad for them, who enjoys playing with them," Jones said.

Jones and Pfeuffer were both eager to take the EverlyWell Food Sensitivity Test to see if eliminating certain foods would make them feel better and improve their health.

For $159, the company's website states the at-home test measures a person’s immune  to nearly 100 foods; everything from dairy to produce and protein to grains and spices.

Then it groups them in categories based on how a body reacts to the item.

The kit comes with a needle to prick a finger for a blood sample.

Then users mail it off and are promised physician-reviewed results in days.

EverlyWell says those results will help users target the food causing symptoms like bloating, fatigue, headaches, and stomach pain.

Pfeuffer and Jones got their results back in a little over a week.

Scrolling through his results, Jones expected to hear that he was sensitive to gluten and wheat and had already eliminated those foods from his diet.

But he had a number of surprises.

“Almond and cashews are new, I didn't know I had a reaction to those," he said.

Pfeuffer was also shocked by her lengthy list.

She said “It looks like I have some type of reaction to just about every possible vegetable on here. I expected to see a group of foods or category, not a whole list of things."

While she figured barley, malt and oat would be on her list as they cause her stomach pain, she wasn't expecting to see so many fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

"Things I thought were everyday foods I eat and that didn't seem to bother me or have an effect on me," said Pfeuffer.

Dr. Josie Vitale of Allergy, Asthma & Food Allergy Centers of St. Louis says her office has seen a growing number of patients doing at-home food sensitivity tests.

"When you hear there could be a solution, it's appealing to try to isolate those" said Dr. Vitale.

But she cautions how you incorporate the results into your everyday eating.

"The most important thing is to understand the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance" she explained.

An allergic reaction to food, like hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, or vomiting, happens quickly and can be life-threatening.

Dr. Vitale also says allergists can test for food allergies.

Food intolerances, referred to as food sensitivities in these kits, are different.

Vitale explained, “symptoms can be a little more vague and subtle, such as abdominal pain, headache, and brain fog. Unfortunately we just don't understand yet the mechanisms behind these sorts of reactions and because of that we don't have reliable tools, tests to evaluate for them."

Given that, she says allergists don't understand how such at-home kits are testing the body’s reactions to certain foods.

But if you decide to do one, Dr. Vitale offers this advice:

"If there is a food that could be causing problems, do a brief avoidance diet and keep a food journal, if you feel better off that food, reasonable to continue to be off of it, but if you don't see a difference, we typically recommend the food be reintroduced," she said.

And she recommended keeping those trial periods somewhere between two to four weeks, but no longer than four to six weeks.

Pfeuffer said doesn't see herself making big changes after reading her results.

"It definitely makes you think about what you're eating but because I said I would consult with my doctor anyway, I almost wonder if [you could] skip this step and just go straight to the doctor," she said.

Jones has a different approach, as he is going to try to eliminate, one by one, the foods that ranked highest on his sensitivity list.

“I would recommend it for someone trying to improve health, figure out a place to start," he said.

EveryWell is just one of many companies offering this type of food sensitivity testing, but News 4 viewers noticed it because of recent sponsored ads on social media.

But according to The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology:

“It's important to understand these types of food sensitivity tests have never been scientifically proven to be able to accomplish what they report to do.”

To speak toward their process and results, EverlyWell gave News 4 the following statement:

EverlyWell offers more than 30 physician-approved lab tests with fast and easy-to-read results, all from the comfort of your home. The majority of tests offered through EverlyWell’s platform are basic health and wellness tests. We do not create new tests or novel biomarkers -- we simply offer access to already-validated and available tests that are used by clinicians, but with price transparency that is generally more affordable than the traditional order process.

The Food Sensitivity Test measures IgG reactivity in the bloodstream to 96 foods common in the Western diet. IgG food sensitivity testing has been and continues to be offered by thousands of health care professionals throughout the U.S. for nearly two decades. IgG should not be considered a substitute for Food Allergy testing, which is done by measuring IgE reactivity levels, or intolerance, which is a digestive issue, not an immune system reaction.

Copyright 2019 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved


News 4 Anchor

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