Gut health is the missing link to reaching your physical and mental potential.
Over the past few years, there has been an increasing awareness around the fundamental role that gut health plays in achieving optimal health. This is a bit of a “hallelujah!” moment for a lot of the scientific health community as it’s something that has, in fact, been very much on our radar for quite some time.
If you talk to any naturopath, nutritionist, gastroenterologist, holistic dietitian, or integrative doctor alike, I have no doubt that they will have a seemingly strange fascination with your number two’s. This is perfectly normal, valid and necessary. In fact, any practitioner that does not query your bowel movements is doing you a disfavour. No shit, I promise.
There is an incredibly strong link between gut health and a person’s physical and emotional wellbeing. There aren’t too many conditions that don’t have a gut component to their pathophysiology. In fact, I’m struggling to come up with any! Examples of issues or conditions in which gut health needs to be a primary treatment target include (but are not limited to) the following;
- Weight Loss
- Depression & Anxiety
- Arthritis & other inflammatory conditions
- IBS & IBD
- Skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis
- Hormonal Imbalances e.g. PCOS, Endometriosis, Infertility, PMS, Menopause
- Thyroid Conditions e.g. Hashimoto’s
- ADHD and Autism
That all might make a bit more sense if I point out a few fun facts for you to help connect the dots…
- Approximately 80% of your immune system lies in your gut.
- Up to 90% of your serotonin (‘feel good’ hormone) is produced in your gut.
- You require a healthy amount of stomach acid to ward off bad bacteria and to activate certain vitamins which allow them to be used effectively in your body.
- There is a strong link between the health of your gut and the condition of your skin.
- 20% of thyroid hormone production happens in your gut. This effects your ability to lose and maintain your weight.
- Leaky gut is a precursor to food sensitivities. Fix your gut and many of your food sensitivities will be gone.
- As you can see I have an unhealthy fascination with one’s gut. Poo talk is a standard everyday topic for me. Not surprisingly a client’s digestion is a key component in the treatment protocols I develop for them.
However, getting to the root cause of digestive conditions or accurately assessing the state of your gut health isn’t always as easy as it seems. That’s where functional testing comes into play. This is something that has added incredible value to my practice and produced significant results for several of my clients and myself.
What is functional gut testing, is it appropriate for you and where do you go to get it done?
Good functional gut testing is a comprehensive analysis of your G.I. system performed using high sensitivity and specificity stool analysis techniques (MALDI-TOF Proteomic Analysis to be precise). It can include testing for the following:
- Beneficial Flora, Commensal Flora, & Dysbiotic Flora
- Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate Digestion
- Secretory IgA (your first line of immune defense in your gut)
- Intestinal Bleeding
- Markers for Inflammation indicative of IBD and/or IBS
- Short Chain Fatty Acid status
Indications for testing (signs/symptoms that you have suboptimal gut function):
- Persistent loose stools/diarrhoea
- Bloating and/or Gas
- Bad Breath
- Food Sensitivities
- Skin Conditions
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Poor detoxification
- Carbohydrate Sensitivity (e.g. FODMAPs)
Where do you get it done?
I order all of my gut testing (as well as several other functional tests) through an evidenced-based healthcare company called Research Nutrition. Why? Because these guys use the high-quality testing technique mentioned above and are constantly seeking out the latest scientific evidence to support the distribution of optimal testing, products and education possible.
You cannot order these tests yourself as it’s important to be under the guidance of a practitioner registered with the company and trained in interpreting the results, however, myself and several other nutritionists, chiropractors, dietitians, naturopaths, integrative doctors, and herbalists are able to help you out. If you would like to find out more information please jump over to their website and contact them for your nearest registered practitioner.
You can find Natalie’s original post at Health by Whole Foods