Biomarkers are one of the essential ways practitioners are able to assess the flora residing in the gastrointestinal tract. Although different lab companies provide their own research and tests to help practitioners discover their patient’s diverse microbial communities, a gold standard test by Genova Diagnostics has been developed.
Genova has made interpreting the results of patients unique bacterial communities easy to understand, ensuring that the patient is able to follow along with their own lab results. A healthy gut will house an abundance of diverse anaerobic bacteria. For patients to have optimal health, it is recommended to view results as an entire system of organisms rather than each individual species.
Genova breaks down lab results into a D.I.G. method, representing Digestion and Absorption, Inflammation and Immunology, and Gastrointestinal Microbiome. These are all key factors in determining, diagnosing, and treating leaky gut, intestinal permeability, and other health conditions.
D: The biomarkers being checked in “D” are secreted by the pancreas. Low levels have been associated with chronic pancreatitis, gallstones, diabetes, celiac disease, and irritable bowel disease. In addition, short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are also checked for here. Elevated levels of SCFA’s suggest bacterial overgrowth.
I: Inflammation is highly common yet detrimental when it comes to the gastrointestinal tract. Inflammation has been linked to leaky gut, the onset of chronic health conditions, and linked to autoimmune disorders. Identifying inflammation and the source determines the course of action warranted by the practitioner. One biomarker specifically looked for is fecal secretory IgA. This biomarker is produced across the mucosal surface and is the first line of defense when it comes to immunity.
G: Often times compared to a fingerprint, the gastrointestinal microbiome is unique to each individual. Several biomarkers are considered here, generating a report showing which specific microorganisms are overgrown or depressed. Considering that microbiomes are different across the globe, there is no “ideal” microbiome set in place. Two specific markers to pay attention to in this section are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. These are generally found in probiotics and if a patient is specifically low in these two factors, probiotics may be used as direct intervention.
Although this test provides a significant amount of information, it is recommended patients combine other tests with this one for optimal results and recovery. Other tests that are recommended include SIBO markers, an IgG and IgE food antibody test, celiac and gluten intolerance, and a general nutritional status test to ensure food is being properly digested and absorbed.
Lab testing is always recommended in my book. Without proper laboratory testing, patients’ treatment is not fully optimized. Lab work provides clinical data leading to a more educated and more concise treatment plan. -Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
Stubbe, Christine. “Advanced Stool Diagnostics: GI Effects and the Evolution of Gut Health Assessment.” 7 May 2020, www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/members/1054.cfm.
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