What if there was a way to detect root causes of your gut issues (including a leaky gut!) or other chronic symptoms stemming from excess inflammation? There is… and you don’t have to fast, swallow strange dyes, or do invasive procedures in your intestines or colon.
You can do a “selfie” of your gut and microbiome… it’s simple, quick, and hands-down the best money you’ll spend on your health!
Remember, your gut is where the real action in the body takes place i.e., energy-in & energy-out, and within it lies the keys to your health. If you don’t have a healthy gut, including a microbiome, you can’t really be healthy overall. Even if you are currently not experiencing typical digestive or gut symptoms doesn’t mean that you don’t have long-standing issues going on, which could have origins in your gut.
We now know from so much new research that poor gut health and in particular a leaky gut, are triggers for other more serious conditions like autoimmune disease, heart conditions, cancer, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s.
Why Doesn’t My Regular Doctor Do These Tests?
Under the standard care model most doctors do minimal diagnostic testing in order to arrive at a conclusion about a patient’s illness. Often doctors wait until serious symptoms develop and then they offer up either drugs or surgery as possible interventions in a health crisis. Unfortunately, at this point a disease has become rooted in the body and most likely done irreversible damage to tissue and organs.
But there is a different health care model that uses testing as a tool to predict as well as get to the root cause of a person’s illness years before it becomes a chronic condition.
Advanced testing is an integral part of working with a person’s bio-individuality and identifying triggers and conditions unique to them. With a good profile of health bio-markers and data, customized therapies and nutritional protocols can be applied to bring the person to optimal health.
A good clinician won’t rely on lab testing alone… they’ll use a combination of their clinical experience, patient history, signs and symptoms to arrive at possible root causes and develop a diagnosis. I call this entire matrix a person’s “bio-map”.
In my mind, lab testing is a fantastic tool that let’s me look “inside” a person to get a different perspective on the body’s imbalances. For instance, it’s really hard to tell if your immune system is reacting say to an allergen like gluten without testing for antibodies (the immune system’s response to the protein).
At the end of the day, lab testing is just a snapshot in time and part of an all-important constellation of human data.
When Should You Get Tested?
If you are interested in staying healthy, then targeted testing for the gut can identify risk factors and help you and your medical professional make important diet and lifestyle changes and identify conditions before they get too serious.
More importantly, your tests can help establish a “baseline” for future monitoring and give you general information about your overall health. For instance, if you have made lifestyle changes to improve your health such as going on a gluten-free diet, it will be important to know if your efforts have been successful. This is where before/after testing can be beneficial in long-term recovery.
You should test for the gut and microbiome health particularly when you have symptoms like:
- Food allergies, chemical sensitivities, sinus conditions, asthma
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s, lupus, celiac disease or Crohn’s
- Poor digestion, nutritional deficiencies, malabsorption,
- Brain fog, depression, anxiety, insomnia, even Autism
- Skin problems, including eczema, psoriasis, rashes and acne
- Cravings for sugar or carbs, insulin resistance
- Pain Disorders like fibromyalgia, arthritis, headaches, migraines, joint pain
- Hormone Disorders including adrenal stress, menstrual, osteoporosis
The Best Gut Health Tests
There are many avenues you can pursue when diagnosing or problem solving for a particular health condition. For gut-related issues (including immune issues) there are 5 important areas to consider as foundational: blood test for antibodies to gluten (a common allergen), common food allergies and to investigate the health of the gut lining (in particular a leaky gut), stool test that looks at the composition of the flora in your microbiome and a urine organic acids profile that looks more deeply at underlying imbalances in key systems of your body.
Of course there are other tests I consider when problem-solving for complex or chronic health issues. My method for testing is like peeling an onion… you do this one layer at a time and go deeper as more is discovered. I consider these helpful functional tests for the gut (and beyond): SIBO (breath test), gluten cross-reactivity panel, tissue antibody tests (targeting specific body tissues when dealing with autoimmune disease), vitamin/mineral analysis, methylation, inflammatory markers, and blood sugar analysis.
There can be a good deal of confusion around testing. Here are some tips that may be helpful when you are considering or are taking advanced diagnostic testing:
- Some people can react severely to gluten and so it is NOT necessary to do a “gluten challenge” before a gluten/wheat reactivity test (be careful if you are a person who many not recover well from introducing any gluten into your system)
- If you insist on a gluten challenge, you should thoroughly chew a small amount of wheat per day for 2-weeks prior to testing; a small wheat cracker or piece of bread works best
- If you get a negative test result back and you suspect you still have an issue with a food, conduct an elimination diet for 30-days; if a food is still causing symptoms when it is introduced back into your diet, remove it and consider getting retested
- If you receive a test back and a good number of the markers are “within” range but you still have reactivity or other symptoms, it could that your immune system is compromised because of a sluggish immune system, history of frequent colds/flu, antibiotic use, steroids etc.)
Getting false-positives/negatives is something to be aware of with any testing that you do. It is always a good idea to discuss the accuracy of any test and specific details with your healthcare professional before you take it.
Here are some factors that can skew test results:
- A suppressed immune system that is fighting hard to keep the body healthy (recovering from cancer, infections, or other serious conditions can tax the immune system significantly)
- Immune suppressant drugs
- Heavy metals and some toxic chemicals
- A “sluggish” or “non-responsive” immune system that is unable to raise an adequate response to be captured in testing.
How Often Should I Get Tested?
If you have current health risks, a history of gut-related issues, or suffer from chronic health conditions like autoimmune disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and so forth, testing should be part of your on-going wellness program. So just as it is routine to do an annual check-up with your doctor, you should also be including some beneficial diagnostic tests.
Here are some suggestions:
- If you have Celiac disease, gluten reactivity, food intolerances, or other gut health issues, you should retest every 12 months or so to ensure that dietary and other protocols are working as expected
- People who test positive for DQ2 or DQ8 genotype (celiac and gluten sensitivity) should consider being tested for antibodies to gluten (and related proteins) every two or three years to double-check reactivity, or immediately if symptoms start to develop
- If you’ve been on a gluten-free diet for a length of time greater than 3-6 months and still have symptoms, then test for more specific food allergies, cross-reactivity, bacterial overgrowth, etc.
- If gut health or autoimmune conditions worsen, then look into some other tests to probe for infections, neurological, hormonal and other imbalances
- To preserve your long-term health, inquire about testing if you start experiencing symptoms that don’t seem to go away or seem to be causing “other” conditions.
If you are following a strict gluten-free diet but you are still suffering from symptoms 6-12 months later, you could be getting exposed to hidden sources of gluten and other related allergens. The cross-contamination can be coming from processed foods, airborne contamination, cosmetics, and more. It is really hard living in a modern world to escape the infiltration of gluten and toxins in our daily life, but with vigilance, you can be assured of less.
Infections, viruses, and bacterial overgrowth can lead to imbalances in the microbiome and a host of other seemingly “unrelated” health conditions. This is why it is important to stay on top of these issues by following up with a stool analysis when you suspect health conditions or just do one regularly every year as a preventative measure.
Be aware of the clues your body is sending you when it is off-balance. Remember, your body never lies and it will subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) give you signs and signals alerting you to potential issues. The body is even smart enough to alert you to health issues years in advance. For instance, if you eat a particular food or get triggered by something occurring in your daily routine (like having abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, mood changes, skin rashes, etc.), you should take note and quickly remove it. This is what is called doing an “elimination” protocol... you eliminate a food or other trigger for 30-days then slowly add it back taking note of how you feel or any reactions.
What Comes After You Do Testing
Testing alone will not repair or nourish what ails your gut. That’s why you should use testing in conjunction with a personalized wellness program that can address your specific gut health issues long-term.
There’s no miracle cure for treating chronic gut issues or even leaky gut, BUT there are things you can do if you’re suffering from symptoms that can help reduce inflammation, repair damaged gut lining, and restore your vitality.
Treatment for gut issues and leaky gut involves:
- Finding your triggers and removing them
- Getting the right tests and diagnostics done to assess severity of the problem
- Introducing good bacteria to support the microbiome
- Replenishing your body with nutrient-rich foods, good fats, prebiotics, and fibers
- Creating a plan for long-term wellness.
When you gradually reduce the amount of inflammatory foods in your diet, manage both physical and emotional stress, introduce some kind of movement each day, create a healthy sleep routine, take nutritionals that support gut healing, AND put more joy and fun back in your life, your gut health (including leaky gut), will quickly improve so you can start to thrive instead of simply survive.
Just to Recap the Importance of Gut Health Testing
- Most doctors do not do the right functional tests to properly evaluate gluten issues or leaky gut… and health conditions go untreated for years
- Despite the research, most doctors have never heard of leaky gut or don’t believe that it (or even gluten issues) even exist, which is unfortunate for patients seeking help
- Taking a microbiome “selfie” can help you identify infections, bacteria overgrowth, parasites, and imbalances in your gut flora
- Testing should be part of any food-related, gut health (including leaky gut) or autoimmune program!
Have YOU been looking for the right gut health testing that looks at leaky gut and microbiome health? Here’s the remedy: Gut Health Secrets 8-Week Boot Camp. This program not only uncovers the root causes of why your not feeling well and performs diagnostic tests to evaluate key systems like the gut, brain, nervous… it ALSO provides a step-by-step 90-day action plan to jump start your journey back to optimal health.
Disclaimer: the views and nutritional advice expressed in this publication are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical advice. No information provided should be interpreted as a diagnosis of any disease, nor an attempt to treat or prevent or cure any disease or condition. All information in this publication is for educational purposes only and Aine-Marie and Advesta Health encourages its clients and members to continue to work in a partnership with qualified medical professional. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider or seek medical assistance. Reading, sharing, or downloading this publication does not establish a doctor patient relationship with Aine-Marie or any Advesta Health employee or consultant including any of our licensed health practitioners, coaches, dieticians or nutritionists.