Well, 2020 turned out a bit different than I was expecting when I first wrote this blog! I’ve now updated it to only include tests that you do in the privacy and safety of your own home, and mail into the lab yourself.
You may or may not have done functional testing before. If you have, you know that it is radically different than getting your bloodwork when you go in for your annual physical – that’s meant to diagnose disease and help your doctor determine a course of treatment. If you’ve ever heard the term “pre-diabetic” or “sub-clinical hypothyroid” – that’s more in the realm of functional testing. However, when you see a true “functional practitioner” (like yours truly), we aren’t looking for disease, we’re looking for – you guessed it – FUNCTION. Assessing function and course-correcting before you ever develop a disease or chronic condition is a more proactive and honestly much easier plan of action than waiting for a doctor to diagnose you with something and dealing with it then.
Also, because of the type of training I’ve had, I’ve been able to help many clients – through functional testing that I’ve run or that I’ve had them ask their doctor to run – get a diagnosis that was very important in directing their lifestyle and health care decisions going forward. You don’t always need a diagnosis in order to get started, but in many cases you do. A diagnosis is simply a description of a collection of symptoms – it often doesn’t tell you anything about the root cause (Fibromyalgia and IBS are two great examples of this).
I’m trained to look underneath all of those labels and find what’s out of balance in your body – and help you get it back into balance!
One way I do that is with functional testing.
Let me introduce you to My *Updated* Top Five Tests for 2020!!
The OAT, and the GPL-TOX
- Great Plains Organic Acids Test (OAT) (urine)
The “OAT” is one of the most reliable and comprehensive on the market. It looks at gut health, metabolic function, brain health, detox capacity, and so much more.
Organic acids are chemical compounds excreted in the urine of mammals that are products of metabolism. The OAT looks at the function of 76 different enzymes.
WHO SHOULD TAKE THIS TEST?
Anyone with health complaints, but especially those with:
- Resistance to Weight Loss
- ADD / ADHD
- Cognitive issues
- Gastro-Intestinal Complaints
- Psychiatric complaints
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (this is like when you can’t tolerate perfumes, cleaning products, or other strong smells)
- Chronic Fatigue
- Autoimmune Disease
- Neurodegenerative Disease
- Chronic Pain
- Chronic Yeast and / or Fungal issues
- Kidney stones
Also: if you suspect you’ve been exposed to mold, but you’re not 100% sure this is a good place to start!
Primary areas tested include:
- Yeast and bacteria
- Antioxidant Status
- Fatty Acid Metabolism
- Mitochondrial function
- Inborn errors of metabolism (genetics)
- Detoxification and Oxidative Stress
- Great Plains GPL-Tox (urine)
This is a test I would run as an add-on to the OAT – especially if you are struggling to lose weight or have chronic fatigue – OR if you know you have had toxic exposure in the past. It tests 173 different environmental pollutants – all of which are known to cause different health problems, hinder our ability to detoxify, and therefore lose body fat. These types of chemicals can disrupt our hormones, damage our mitochondria (the energy-producing powerhouses of the cells), cause nutrient deficiencies, and at a more extreme level, have been linked to multiple types of cancers. Knowing if these chemical pollutants are causing your health problems helps us understand how to solve them!
Learn more about running this test!
- Vibrant Wellness’s Gut Zoomer (stool)
The gut zoomer is my new favorite stool test! (Am I the only person you know who would ever type those words?! Sorry not sorry.)
It uses the same technology (DNA Polymerase Chain Reaction) as the GI-Map (my previous favorite stool test), but includes several more infection markers, AND more digestive markers to ensure that you’re absorbing your food!
I appreciate stool testing so much because if your gut is unhealthy, the rest of you will follow. Also – and this is kinda gross – because most of us have had WAY TOO MANY rounds of antibiotics in our lifetimes we tend to have a serious good-guy-bacteria deficiency – which leads to bad guys being able to take hold. And by bad guys I mean bacteria, but also yeasts, fungi and parasites. These stool tests are super sensitive and specific and can help us connect the dots between whatever “guys” are in your gut and whatever symptoms you’re experiencing.
Stool testing is a must – not just for people with GI symptoms, but for anyone who has traveled internationally and now has uncomfortable chronic symptoms like joint pain or skin issues; people with hard-to-explain nutrient deficiencies like anemia that is resistant to iron supplementation; and those with chronic illnesses like any of the following:
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Rheumatoid – or other – Arthritis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Grave’s Disease
- Food Allergies
- Vibrant America’s Micronutrient Panel (blood, fingerstick)
Micronutrients tested include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants.
From Vibrant America’s website:
ROLE OF MICRONUTRIENTS
Almost every physiological function in your body requires micronutrients to function optimally. Vitamin, minerals and antioxidants play a key role in:
- Producing and releasing energy.
- Strengthening the immune system.
- Reducing systemic inflammation.
- Protecting against free radical damage.
- Maintaining a healthy hormonal balance (i.e. thyroid, sex hormones, adrenal hormones, neurotransmitters/brain hormones, etc.).
- Maintaining insulin sensitivity.
- Slowing down cellular aging.
- Promoting the health of all tissues: skin, bone, brain, breast, gut, prostate, heart, muscle, organs, etc.
- Protecting against the development, progression, and recurrence of cancer.
This helps us understand what specific foods your diet should include, and obviously helps to more intelligently select supplements.
WHO SHOULD RUN THE VIBRANT MICRONUTRIENTS TEST?
This testing would be most beneficial if you:
- Suffer from
- Chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and/or arthritis.
- Skin problems.
- Numbness/tingling in your hands or feet.
- Weakened Immune system.
- Digestive issues/disorders like celiac, wheat sensitivity, IBS, IBD, and SIBO.
- Are experiencing
- Advanced aging.
- Stress, feeling tired, or chronic fatigue.
- Have a history of
- Long-term use of prescription medications.
- Poor diet.
- Are Someone who is a
- Athletic competitor/exercise regularly.
- Vegan or Vegetarian or have a history of vegan or vegetarian diet.
- DUTCH hormone panels (urine)
DUTCH stands for Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones and it’s just that – it’s a very comprehensive set of answers for not only hormones but also hormone metabolites. If you have estrogen dominance, you may be experiencing related symptoms (PMS, weight gain, abnormal cycles), but is that because you’re actually manufacturing too much estrogen, you’re not detoxifying it well, or because you’re being exposed to estrogenic chemicals in your environment? Each of those different scenarios requires a totally different approach clinically.
If you don’t have enough testosterone you will experience a lack of energy, motivation and libido, as well as a much harder time building muscle. Low testosterone is also linked to depression.
The DUTCH panels tell us not only about the sex hormones and their metabolites, but also give us insight into adrenal function by testing cortisol and DHEA. With an addition of a saliva sample in the DUTCH Plus™, we can also see what’s happening with your Cortisol Awakening Response or CAR. If you have issues with energy throughout the day, finding out what’s happening with your adrenal hormones is a huge piece of the puzzle! It’s #5 on my list is that all of the issues that we learn about with the above tests actually impact our ability to make healthy hormones and keep them in balance. I have resolved many a client’s hormone imbalance with stool testing and re-balancing their gut!
However, this is a very useful test, and if you are dealing with any kind of hormone-related issue, and can do it, you’ll get some great actionable data!!
WHO SHOULD TAKE THIS TEST:
- Irregular periods
- Loss of libido
- PMS / PMDD
- Peri- or pre-menopause
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Poor recovery from exercise
- Fertility planning
- Poor stress response
- Hair loss
- Excess body hair
- Suspected adrenal fatigue
- Hormone-related cancers or cancer risk
If none of those sound like the test you’re after, or if you need someone to interpret your bloodwork from a functional perspective, feel free to email me at [email protected] with the subject line “functional testing” and myself or my team will let you know next steps!