Heal Your Gut With These Important Tests

I’d like to finish out my series on functional lab testing today with gut function tests. As you all know, one of my favorite sayings is “heal your gut, heal your body!” So you can imagine how important understanding what’s really going on in the digestive system would be to me! 

Sadly, this is an area that is still unrecognized by many traditional doctors, so if you go to your gastroenterologist and ask for one of these tests, they may raise an eyebrow and tell you you’re wasting your money. Let me just say this: you would not be wasting your money. Assessing gut function with the following tests can help determine the underlying contributors to chronic disease and silent inflammation.

Lactulose-mannitol intestinal permeability test: This test is done by drinking two sugars—lactulose, which is normally not absorbed unless there’s damage to the intestinal lining, and mannitol, which is easily absorbed under all conditions. Then a urine sample is obtained and sent to a laboratory. The relative amount of the two sugars in the urine is measured and determines the extent of intestinal permeability, or leaky gut.

Gluten and food sensitivity test: This test has been a blessing to many people, including myself. Underlying food sensitivities—especially to gluten and/or dairy–are much more common than most people realize and the general lack of awareness of these issues cause an incredible amount of suffering and misery. There is a stool test available from EnteroLab that can be done from your home, with specimens sent via mail. It’s often helpful to add the gene panel that will reveal your genetic predisposition to various sensitivities, which can help to understand not only your own issues but those of your family members as well.

Comprehensive Stool Analysis (CSA) with parasitology: This just might be my favorite gut function test! It’s the one I’ve recommended and used successfully with hundreds of people through the years to learn about their bacterial and yeast populations and digestive functions. I like to include a screen for parasites as well. This stool test can also be done in the privacy of your own home and is offered by different laboratories. See one explanation here. The report that is generated gives great insight into exactly what may be needed to repopulate good bacteria and support and repair a leaky gut.

Heidelberg pH Diagnostic Test: This unique non-invasive test measures pH levels in the gut using a capsule instead of the traditional nasal-gastric tube or standard endoscopic procedure to determine acidity. Many people who have been prescribed acid-reducing medications for years without a reduction in symptoms find out that they weren’t producing too much acid, rather too little. You can see how important this test would be if your symptoms point to gastritis or GERD. To find a doctor who can perform this test and to learn more about it, visit www.phcapsule.com.

Always remember, up to 80 percent of the immune system resides in the gut. Don’t you think it might be a good idea to find out what’s happening in there?

I’d like to wind up this series with this tip: If your physician isn’t aware of the tests I’ve mentioned, perhaps you’ll consider finding an integrative doctor who may have studied functional testing. Here are two websites to help you locate someone near you: http://www.acam.org and http://www.functionalmedicine.org. Another option is to contact Phyllis at EnteroLab – (972) 686-6869. She keeps a national database of practitioners who have greater insight into gut issues, and she is happy to look up someone in your area. Also, there are now companies like LabTestingDirect that offer many of these tests without a doctor’s appointment.

As Dr. Leonard Smith shares “One of the hallmarks of integrative medicine (also known as preventative or functional medicine) is that we are doing functional testing long before diseases develop.” Let’s work together to stop silent inflammation in its early stages so we might look forward to a happy and healthy future. 


Yours in Great Heart Health,

Brenda Watson, C.N.C.