What Are Functional Tests?
Functional Tests focus on markers for healthy function, rather than markers for disease as used by the medical establishment. The benefit of using functional tests is that we can identify areas that are functioning out of the normal healthy range long before these imbalances can contribute to disease. Functional testing can also be used to help identify the true, underlying causes of chronic disease. By pinpointing areas of dysfunction and imbalances in the body, strategies can be put in place to provide what is lacking, or remove what is in excess, to promote optimal health and wellness. These tests can be used to help put together a personalized therapeutic programme that is focused completely on your unique needs.
I work with the following established laboratories and may suggest functional tests if I think they will be helpful in assessing your symptoms and blocks to well-being:
Functional Tests focus on markers for healthy function, rather than markers for disease as used by the medical establishment. The benefit of using functional tests is that we can identify areas that are functioning out of the normal healthy range long before these imbalances can contribute to disease.
Functional testing can also be used to help identify the true, underlying causes of chronic disease. By pinpointing areas of dysfunction and imbalances in the body, strategies can be put in place to provide what is lacking, or remove what is in excess, to promote optimal health and wellness. These tests can be used to help put together a personalized therapeutic programme that is focused completely on your unique needs. They can also be used as a way of monitoring your progress.
Functional Tests I may recommend include:
Problems with digestive function or bowel habit are problems I commonly see in my practice. In fact, digestive health is a key foundation for health and well-being. You need to digest & absorb your food and have regular bowel movements to eliminate waste products for your body’s cells to function efficiently. Stool and saliva samples can be used to assess the presence of fungi (such as candida) and various parasites, bacterial content of stool (good and bad), identify Helicobacter Pylori, measure intestinal SigA (key immune marker), inflammatory markers, digestive enzyme levels; they also look for the presence of blood and check for IgA reactions to gluten dairy, soy and egg.
GI Comprehensive Profile Stool
The GI Effects Comprehensive Stool Profile can reveal important information about the root cause of many common gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, bloating, indigestion, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and constipation. This stool analysis utilizes biomarkers such as faecal calprotectin to differentiate between Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In addition, Genova’s GI Effects test can be used to evaluate patients with a clinical history that suggests a gastrointestinal infection or dysbiosis.
Gut microbes are codependent with one another and with their human host, and the health of one affects the other. A sizeable volume of research associates a dysbiotic, or imbalanced gut microbiome with multiple disease states both within and outside of the GI tract. The diverse metabolic activities of the microbiome ultimately impact the human host, and the activities of the human host ultimately affect the health of their microbiome.
This stool analysis evaluates:
Immunology / Inflammation Markers
Bacterial & Mycology Sensitivities
Immune and Intolerance Panels
Problems with food intolerances are commonly seen by Nutritional Therapists. There are a number of different antibodies profiles which can be used to assess your body’s tolerance to commonly eaten foods.
Cambridge Nutritional Sciences FoodPrint Indicator is a useful starter test. This only costs £15 and checks whether IgG food intolerance reactions are present. If you get a positive test, you know then that it is worthwhile paying for the more expensive panel which tests individual foods. IgG food intolerances indicate that leaky gut is an issue and once foods have been eliminated and healing of the leaky gut has taken place, tolerance for these foods may well improve.
IgG are not the only antibodies which can be involved in food intolerances. IgA intolerances are more permanent reactions and IgE are the classic allergy reaction where you get an immediate response after being exposed to the allergen. I use Genova panels to look at IgA and IgE reactions.
Relatively new laboratory tests in the UK are Cyrex’s panels for gluten intolerance, gluten cross reactivity and autoimmunity screens. Cyrex’s gluten tests are ground breaking and the most comprehensive tests available to assess gluten intolerance. There are over 60 peptides (mini proteins in wheat) and most tests only look at ONE peptide. Cyrex’s panel tests 12 of these gluten peptides making it the most accurate way of determining gluten intolerance.
Patients with gluten sensitivity or coeliac disease are often sensitised to a wide range of dietary proteins. Even minute traces of wheat or the cross reactive foods are capable of triggering a state of heightened immunological activity in gluten sensitive people. This means that even though they have excluded gluten from their diet, their bodies are still reacting to foods in their diet as though they are eating wheat. It is essential to identify food antigens with cross reactivity to gluten peptides.
If these foods are not excluded, then it is likely additional autoimmunity will continue to develop – i.e. the allergic process and ensuing inflammation will continue to cause damage to the body and compromise long term health.
Endocrine Tests: hormone profiles
Hormones are chemical messengers which control just about every system in the body. The glands which are involved in the production of these hormones can be disrupted by many factors, including poor diet, stress and exposure to toxins may disrupt hormonal levels. This can have profound effects on health, well-being, energy levels and mood.
A range of functional tests are available to evaluate different hormones to see if imbalances are playing a role in health symptoms. These include: Adrenal Stress Test, Thyroid Hormone Profiles and Sex Hormone Profiles.
The Dutch complete is an extremely comprehensive test which looks in detail at your hormonal health and those factors which contribute to hormonal imbalances.
The beauty of the Dutch Test is not only in the information it provides, but it is relatively easy to collect samples and return to the lab using the dry urine method.
As discussed above, specific nutrients are required as co-factors for many enzymes and biochemical processes. Nutrients are commonly depleted in today’s diets and this has a negative impact on health. Assessing levels of nutrients can be useful in helping to prepare a programme to support optimum health.
The Metabolomix test is a unique combination of nutritional tests that provides an analysis of key nutritional biomarkers in one convenient urine collection. Requiring only a first-morning void urine collection, this test is a convenient and easy way for you to assess the functional need for antioxidants, B-vitamins, minerals, digestive support, and amino acids. This test gives me a really good overview of your current health status, with biomarkers which indicate current digestive and bowel health, detoxification ability, ability to make energy and the status of key neurotransmitters which impact on mood and nutrient levels which help vital processes of your body to function. Basically this information helps me to guide you to implement a tailored plan to optimise your health.
NutrEval (Genova Diagnostics)
The NutrEval is a more in depth test than the ONE test. It includes assessment of essential fatty acids, identifying toxic metals, cellular levels of CoQ10. This profile is recommended and particularly useful where there are chronic underlying health issues. Please note the samples required include urine and blood (saliva if you want the Snp add-on). Some of the blood needs to be centrifuged within 15 minutes of being drawn.
Please check that the phlebotomy service you use is able to provide this eservice. I can send you a list of clinics where this service is provided.
Toxicity and Environmental Issues
We live in a toxic world and some of us are more efficient than others at eliminating the toxicity we are exposed to. Heavy metals or chemicals commonly used in agriculture for instance can play havoc in the body as they interrupt essential biochemical processes. We can arrange tests for heavy metal toxicity (urine and / or blood), mitochondrial function (blood), CFS profiles (blood), Lymphocyte sensitivity (blood) are available from Acumen laboratory.
These tests are all explained on Dr Sarah Myhill’s website.