If you follow me on social media, you know I’m super passionate about gut health. I mean, your gut does influence the majority of your bodily processes! So today, I’m sharing the top gut health tests you could ask your Functional Medicine provider about.
If you normally get care from a conventional medicine doctor, they might not have mentioned these tests to you before. This is why I personally got into Functional Medicine- because the Functional Medicine approach teaches providers how to run functional lab testing to determine the underlying causes of your symptoms, rather than order a prescription to cover them up.
The state of your gut can tell you so much about your health. The key to optimal gut health is to have:
a balanced microbiome (beneficial and harmful bacteria make up your microbiome)
a strong gut lining
optimal intestinal permeability
If your gut is healthy, that means nutrients are being absorbed optimally, digestion is running smoothly, hormones are happier, skin is clear, and your immune system is responding appropriately.
But if your gut is working more like a bench player rather than a starter, then we’ve got problems. We start to see poor nutrient absorption (and therefore nutrient deficiencies), constipation or diarrhea, imbalanced hormones, skin issues, and a weakened immune system!
I have some patients who come to me who have had gut issues for 15 years and have never received a stool test from their conventional doctor. They are put on laxatives and then are upset that their gastro problems are still hanging around. This is why I’m so passionate about Functional Health because this approach lets us investigate why you are feeling the way you are, not just covering up your existing symptoms.
If the real issues are left untreated, gut issues can manifest into more severe health issues like autoimmune conditions, food intolerances, chronic fatigue, hormone issues, and more.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, I would suggest getting microbiome testing performed along with some other insightful testing.
Weight Loss Issues
These symptoms are red flags telling you to dig deeper! And in fact, a lot of them can be traced back to gut health or can be worsened/exacerbated by poor gut health.
Some of these aren’t specifically gut health tests, but they are needed to complete the whole picture of what’s going on in your body. These tests may be needed to complete the puzzle to figure out what’s truly causing your symptoms because it could just be one factor or, most of the time, it’s multiple factors that are interrelated.
This stool test is wonderful for detecting underlying parasites, bacteria, fungal overgrowth, digestion and more. This is vital to know because parasites, for example, can cause chronic inflammation in the body, contributing to your symptoms, and can even decrease your colonic motility, causing chronic constipation.
While you are healing your gut, it’s essential to know if any of the foods you are eating (healthy or not) are contributing to your gut flare-ups and hindering you from healing.
These tests can let us know what foods you should avoid and what foods you can have for the time being. These are really helpful, and I use them in my practice because it’s best, when healing the gut, that you avoid inflammatory foods (like those you are sensitive to and are reacting to).
But, even bigger picture, if you’re reacting to foods, it’s because you have that gut problem in the first place. Performing a stool test can be super helpful to identify what is causing your gut to be so reactive. You can start to see how all these issues are interconnected. When one isn’t optimal, it can impact another system or function and vice versa.
Genova Diagnostic nutrient testing can be extremely helpful to identify what people need to be eating more of or supplementing with. You could be eating a healthy diet full of a ton of plant-based antioxidants, really healthy, high-quality protein, and getting amino acids… but if you’re not absorbing those things, then you won’t be reaping those benefits you’re trying so hard to gain!
Doing this Genova Diagnostics nutrient test is helpful to make sure you’re digesting and absorbing nutrients but what I really love is that it helps to customize plans for what kind of foods you needed to incorporate more of and when oral and IV supplementation are needed.
Maybe you need more plant-based antioxidants or to add more omegas or more B vitamins. It can also tell when you’re really nutrient-depleted and what supplementation can be beneficial. What’s even more impressive is that it includes testing for toxic markers that can hint to you that you need to detox.
Small Intestinal bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) can manifest in different ways. Some people experience constipation, some diarrhea and others a combo presentation of both constipation and diarrhea. If. you have followed nutrition protocols, done stool testing and can’t seem to get your bloating and stomach issues under control it may be time to rule out SIBO. The gold standard SIBO test is a breath test.
While stool testing can provide you with H pylori markers. The gold standard test for diagnosing H pylori is a breath test. A lot of GI doctors and sometimes primary care providers will order this test through insurance. If you have a history of reflux and bloating it should be considered.
Until you get the top gut tests run and get the results back, here are some ways you can improve your gut health naturally, starting right now.
Clean up your diet. Try to consume as many whole organic and anti-inflammatory foods as possible and avoid processed foods that are high in sugars, additives, and chemicals.
Avoid antibiotics unless absolutely necessary
Reduce your stress. Practice breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and journaling.
Eat a variety of foods. Not only should you eat healthy foods, also aim to eat a variety of colorful foods at every meal. This helps feed all the different kinds of good gut bacteria!
Eat fermented food like kimchi, and sauerkraut as tolerated
You can read my previous blog for more in-depth information about the 5R protocol I use for some patients who need a gut overhaul.
It’s essential to test and not guess when trying to fix your gut issues. I use several tests with my clients to figure out exactly what is “off” in the body, leading to your handful of symptoms.
If you need access to a stool test, a gut health expert, and personalized protocols, the Get Your Gut Right program might be the right fit for you. This is a comprehensive health reset program that also focuses on nutrition, detox pathways, the nervous system, clean environment, and more. Click HERE to learn more.
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