We know that our digestive system’s primary job is to break down and absorb the food we eat to extract nutrients and energy to keep us alive. However, aside from its key task of digesting food and extracting nutrients, the gut has a crucial role to play in general wellbeing and is genuinely involved in almost every other function of our health.
THE KEY TO HEALTH IS A HEALTHY GUT
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, stated that “all disease begins in the gut.” And, indeed, I find that all clients need to build a healthy gut in order to achieve their desired level of health as it influences everything from mood and memory to immune function and weight. Did you know that approximately 80% of your immune system is in your gut? You can’t have a healthy immune system without a healthy gut. That fact alone, shows how super important it is to make sure it is healthy and functioning well.
Our digestive system contains trillions of microbes that are thought to outnumber human cells ten to one! Studies show that gut microbiota influence:
- Absorption of nutrients
- Blood sugar
- Hormone production
- Neurotransmitter levels
- Immune system activity
- And much more!
In other words, if there is something wrong with your microbiome, you want to get it fixed. But you can’t fix your gut if you don’t know what the issue is!
My preferred test to understand your gut health is the GI-MAP test by Nutripath.
WHAT DOES THE GI MAP TEST FOR?
- Parasite and worm infections
- Candida and yeast infections
- H. pylori infection
- Bacterial health and diversity in the large intestine
- Markers of pancreatic health (enzymes) and fat digestion
- Beta-glucuronidase (marker of estrogen and phase 2 liver detoxification)
- Zonulin (marker of leaky gut)
- Calprotectin (marker for gut inflammation)
- Anti-Gliadin IgA (marker for gluten sensitivity)
While the GI Map is an obvious choice of tests for those clients who are experiencing digestive symptoms such as gas/bloating, diarrhea, constipation, which they want to get to the bottom of (pun intended!), many other clients do not experience gut symptoms but would still benefit from looking into this important system of the body. Why? …… Several researchers have found evidence supporting the theory that some autoimmune diseases are correlated with specific types of bacterial overgrowths and/or infections so I also believe it is also hugely beneficial to assess gut function for anyone who has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease to see if and how this might be contributing to their symptoms.
In fact, studies show that most people diagnosed with the autoimmune thyroid condition, Hashimoto’s, are known to have a ‘leaky gut’ meaning the tight junctions that typically hold the cells in your gut lining together have become loose, allowing undigested food particles, microbes, toxins, and more to escape your gut and enter your bloodstream. These particles are recognised by your immune system as foreign invaders, sending your immune system into high alert and triggering a huge rise in inflammation. It is thought that this continual strain on your immune system eventually causes it to go haywire, and it ends up attacking your own tissues by mistake.
Whether leaky gut contributed to the development of their autoimmune disease or whether it developed as a consequence, is yet to be definitively determined, however it does demonstrate the importance of testing your gut function and rectifying any dysfunction or imbalances found, to remove any additional ‘stressors’ on your body and how it functions. This can involve elimination of any detected parasites, restoring your gut microbiome balance and healing and sealing your gut mucosal barrier as well as supporting your immune and detoxification systems.
WHAT CAUSES GUT INFECTIONS?
Disruptions in gut microbiota can vary from imbalances in normal bacteria to severe infections caused by parasites, abnormal bacteria, and/or overgrowth of yeasts and fungi. Gut microbiota also fluctuate with changes in diet and environment.
Pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, processed foods, chemical toxins, and stress all disrupt bacterial flora in the gut and can set the stage for inflammation, immune system dysregulation, and malabsorption of nutrients. When the overall ecology of the gut becomes damaged or unbalanced, its capacity to fight off infectious organisms gets compromised thereby leaving us susceptible to infection.
Knowing how your gut is functioning is the first step in correcting imbalances and restoring health.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN RUNNING THE GI-MAP?
The GI-MAP is a simple stool test that you can do at home and return directly to the lab in the mail. The lab sends the results to me and I interpret and then develop a personalised protocol for you to address any imbalances naturally.
As you have read above, this test gives us an incredible amount of information to be able to uncover some hidden stressors in your body which might be contributing to your symptoms and overall health.
The more information we have, the more I am able develop a protocol that actually works for you and your personal health circumstances! As you can see in these sample results, the GI-MAP seems fairly easy to interpret. But don’t be fooled! Although the basics may be simple to read, there are many nuances in this test. A skilled practitioner can detect patterns in the results that may be indiscernible to the layperson. I believe it is crucial for you to fully understand your test results in order to make informed decisions about supporting your health going forward. I am here to help you do that and to facilitate your path towards better health!
If you would like to find out more about running the GI Map test, book in for a free 15 min chat with me so we can discuss your personal situation and whether this might be a beneficial test for you and if we’re a good fit to work together.
I hope you’ve found this information helpful!