Have you been struggling for months (or years) to figure out the cause of your digestive issues but instead finding yourself more and more frustrated? You are not alone!
I have personally struggled with this as well and witnessed countless friends and family members deal with the same. You might have tried various cleanses, detoxes, restrictive diets… and maybe these things help for a while, but you never can really figure out what helped the most. Ultimately, you end up right back where you were but feeling more defeated each time.
You end up dealing with the symptoms for years and even rationalize to yourself that they are “normal” or just part of getting older. After all, everyone belches and passes gas after meals, right? And having a bowel movement (BM) every 2-4 days is totally normal, right? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s NOT normal. You should be having 1-2 BMs DAILY and it should be an easy to pass smooth sausage shape with no cracks and have no foul odor. We rarely talk about the specifics of what a healthy bowel movement should be like, so I’m putting this out there for anyone who ever wondered ‘what is a normal BM?’!
Additionally, digestion should be a silent process if all of your digestive enzymes and bile are flowing properly. If you are belching or passing gas during or after meals or feel bloated after eating; it is very likely that you are not producing adequate stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes, and/or bile. But another common reason for any or all of these symptoms is a gut microbiome imbalance (dysbiosis). This could be in the form of a pathogen (bad bacteria), parasite, or even low good bacterial flora. And if your microbiome is out of balance for long enough, it can lead to a host of chronic diseases such as IBS, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease and hypertension just to name a few. Just search “gut dysbiosis and chronic disease” on pubmed.gov and it turns up over 1,000 results! We are learning more every day about how an unchecked unbalanced microbiome is linked to many chronic diseases. In fact, gut imbalances can also be closely tied to mental health conditions as well. Dysbiosis is often linked to anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. It is estimated that 60% of people with these conditions have some sort of dysbiosis. I have personally experienced this for myself when I had a yeast overgrowth.
So now you’re wondering how you find out if you have dysbiosis, right?! This is where stool testing comes in. The GI-MAP is a powerful tool that is very comprehensive. I use this functional lab with clients who want to identify the root cause of and support their bodies to find balance in their gut microbiota again! While functional labs are never cheap, tested and targeted protocols that are developed with the bio-individuality of each client in mind can really save clients time, frustration, and money in the long run!
While there are a number of stool tests available, the GI-MAP is more sensitive than a culturing or microscopy test since it identifies the DNA of the parts and pieces of all organisms present in the stool even if they are no longer able to grow in a culture. Additionally, it is quantitative versus qualitative so it is possible to determine how detrimental the levels of various organisms might be to your’e health!
The reason that other tests are sub-par is that culturing or microscopy can miss up to 50% of bacterial species due to the small sample size. Even for stool tests which require 3 samples, a small test sample is pulled from this and on such a small sample size, a parasite could easily be missed completely. Additionally, live yeast organisms are unlikely to survive all the way through the digestive tract so the likelihood of finding an active yeast culture in a traditional stool test is rare. While the GI-MAP only requires 1 sample, it provides more accuracy since it uses qPCR technology. This allows it to identify the tiny DNA SNPs present (even if the species is no longer alive) and also provides a list of prescription drugs that would most effectively treat each identified pathogen or parasite while considering the bio-individuality of the client (in the case that a client would want to have their doctor treat the pathogen via prescription antibiotics).
Only requiring 1 sample is helpful for clients who must discontinue medications or digestive supplements to take the test, minimizing their discomfort. The GI-MAPs ability to quantify the amount of each species found versus just providing a positive/negative result allows to really narrow in on the species that is likely causing the most disruption and suggest a targeted healing protocol that will be efficient and effective.
I had the privilege of being taught by practitioners from the Restorative Wellness Solutions program with over 20 years of experience on the best protocols to eradicate various pathogens, parasites, yeast, and fungi. These protocols typically include antimicrobial or antifungal herbs, biofilm disruptors, as well as functional supports of ‘northern’ digestive stress (such as bloating, gas, heartburn, etc.).
In addition to the GI-MAP, I always recommend an MRT (Mediator Release Test) as well which is a food sensitivity test. In a future post, Ill dig into that more, but I wanted to point out that this is typically part of a healing protocol as well. The MRT looks at which foods are causing an inflammatory response on a cellular level. This way, I can work with clients to temporarily pull out these foods to allow for quicker and more complete resolution of their dysbiosis.
If you suspect that dysbiosis is an issue for you and you are interested in determining the root cause once and for all, let’s talk!