Evaluate the amount and types of “good” and “bad” bacteria that make up your gut microbiome.
Good flora in your digestive system are responsible for producing short-chain fatty acids and other metabolic factors which protect your intestinal lining and provide fuel for cells in your colon. A microbiome test will look at these metabolites & SCFAs which make up a healthy gut.
Harmful bacteria, such as parasites and viruses, contribute to inflammatory activity that may lead to a leaky gut, hormone imbalance, or autoimmune disease. Microbiome tests using a stool sample determine how much and what types of potentially pathogenic bacteria reside in your gut. Examples of potentially harmful bacteria include H. pylori, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and E. coli.
Defend a healthy microbiome with a pre- or probiotic.
Digestive health testing
Ever wondered how well your gut is able to break down and absorb different nutrients, vitamins, or minerals? Stool tests can help provide insight into digestive function that may impact nutrient deficiencies, food intolerances, and malabsorption.
This involves measuring pancreatic enzymes, undigested protein in the colon, and how much fat is present in stool.
Stool testing also gives insight into how well you tolerate certain foods and may help identify food sensitivities or intolerances.
Read: Tips to Increase Nutrient & Vitamin Absorption
Multiple technologies identify which microbes reside in your GI tract
Genova’s GI Effects test uses a combination of PCR, culture, and microscopic methods to identify specific strains of microbes. Since a single technology cannot fully capture the dynamics of a constantly changing microbiome, this tests combines:
- 16S rRNA gene polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification technique for anaerobic commensal bacteria
- Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) technology for bacterial and fungal species identification via culture
- Microscopic ova & parasites (O&P) detection
- Real-time PCR for the identification of 6 common parasites
Learn more about this test when you speak with a functional medicine provider.
Identify the root cause of digestive issues & disease
GI testing can look for various biomarkers associated with diseases that begin in the digestive system.
Stool samples are used to check for signs of digestive tract diseases like bile acid malabsorption and pancreatic insufficiency (1).
IBS & IBD
One biomarker, calprotectin, has been proven clinically useful in differentiating between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (2).
Allergies & intolerance
Eosinophil Protein X is a marker of inflammation and allergic response (3).
Fecal Secretory IgA is a marker of gut immunity and the health of the intestinal lining (4).
Some stool tests may also provide clinically relevant information to screen for signs of colon cancer (5).
Dealing with digestive issues, or symptoms of chronic inflammation? Find answers when you evaluate your gut health.
What happens during tests for gut health?
Most gut health tests require a sample of your stool, which is usually collected during an appointment with your healthcare provider. The sample is then sent to a laboratory for processing and analysis. There are at-home microbiome testing kits available, but they may not be as comprehensive or accurate as one ordered by your functional medicine practitioner.
Results will be returned to your doctor in the form of a report that outlines any bacterial overgrowth or imbalances in gut bacteria, as well as any infectious agents present, such as parasites and viruses.
Should you test your gut health?
Test results can help your healthcare provider develop a personalized treatment plan based on your unique gut microbiome, and how your gut is functioning.
Symptoms often improve as functional imbalances become normalized through diet, lifestyle, nutraceutical and/or pharmaceutical supplementation. Recommended interventions may include:
- Antibiotic therapy
- Anti-inflammatory protocols
- Pancreatic/digestive enzyme therapy
- Prebiotic and probiotics
- Dietary changes
- Herbal or natural therapies or supplements
Heal a leaky gut with functional medicine>>
Gut health testing and functional medicine
Understanding the vital role your digestive system plays in your overall health is key to improving quality of life and longevity. Testing is the first step in gaining insight into the health of your gut microbiome, and gives your healthcare provider an inside look at how to best support you. A functional approach that focuses on optimizing gut function rather than just symptom management creates lasting changes.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re interested in learning more about gut health testing.