Are you feeling stumped by persistent gastrointestinal distress? Have elimination diets fallen short of addressing the underlying problem? Does it seem like you have to look forward to a lifetime of pain and inconvenience?
When it comes to GI issues, many of my patients seek naturopathic care for these exact reasons. We want to figure out why a symptom is occurring and get the the bottom of it! Tests that look at anatomical and structural issues include those offered by gastroenterologists like upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, ultrasounds, CT, etc. By digging deeper, we can see the function of those structures by looking at the microbiome and for food reactions. There are a few select functional wellness tests that I recommend on an individual basis in order to learn more about the underlying causes of faulty digestion. Let’s review the top three tests that allow us to dig deeper into the gut:
Microbiome Analysis: What if the problem isn’t the foods you eat, but the terrain of your gut, also known as the microbiome? For some patients, it’s critical to examine the entire ecosystem in the gut AKA the microbiome. The Gut Zoomer 3.0 from Vibrant America is the most comprehensive digestive health test on the market. This panel helps us to detect root causes of acute and chronic illnesses that stem from the gastrointestinal tract. The path from diagnosis to healing will look different for each patient, since so many different conditions can be associated with intestinal dysbiosis and microbiome imbalance.
The results from this test include insights and recommendations based on individual testing markers, giving patients a deeper understanding of their health in our work together.
This stool test analyzes your unique gut microbiome, including:
- 171 commensal microbes, AKA the “good” bacteria your gut microbiome needs
- 67 pathogenic bacteria, yeast, viruses, and parasites that are known to cause serious health concerns
- 35 functional markers of inflammation, pancreatic function, leaky gut, immune function and detoxification
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth – SIBO: Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth occurs when bacteria enter your normally sterile (or mostly sterile) small intestine and begin to colonize. Patients with bacterial overgrowth typically develop symptoms such as bloating (key phase I her from women is, “I look like I am pregnant by the end of the day!”), diarrhea, constipation or both (hello IBS diagnosis!), and malabsorption (nutrient deficiencies and feeling sick from food). When SIBO is suspected, we recommend a test like Aerodiagnostics’ closed capture alveolar air (breath) kit for at-home collection.
Food Sensitivity: It is estimated that 20% of the population have an adverse reaction to a food. Symptoms of a delayed food allergy, or food sensitivity, can take up to 72 hours to appear. I like to call these “background noise foods” because sometimes it’s hard to connect the dots between a food you eat on a daily or frequent basis and symptoms because the reaction is delayed, or going on in the background.
Food sensitivities may be caused by many factors such as stress, infections, overeating, artificial preservatives, additives, molds, pesticides, antibiotics, environmental pollutants, as well as microbiome imbalances.
We need to address underlying causes of food sensitivity, rather than simply avoid the offending food… forever!
The panel I recommend for patients who fit the criteria for food sensitivity is: 184-food IgG immunoglobulin blood spot test from Alletess Medical Laboratory.
Includes the 96 foods found in the typical Western diet, plus 88 additional foods for adventurous eaters and alternative diets. The results report the severity of individual food intolerances. We structure a customized elimination and reintroduction plan to help relieve symptoms while working to figure out what the most problematic foods are – for you!
Keep in mind… One size doesn’t fit all. There are other tests available for those whose symptoms and medical history don’t fit the criteria for SIBO, or food sensitivity, or the Gut Zoomer. I may recommend these tests on an individual basis for those with persistent, undiagnosed, or otherwise complex conditions.