6 Essential Functional Medicine Laboratory Tests That Your Doctor Should Be Running, but Is Probably Not
planning the appropriate treatment plan. Comprehensive testing provides our patients with information and knowledge about the function of their body that they typically do not receive from their conventional doctor visits. These tests are performed to get to the root cause of the symptoms or disease.
In addition to helping resolve health issues, we also have testing to optimize health. Perhaps you are feeling good but you want to feel and function even better. We have testing that analyzes the factors of aging and then allows us to modify these factors. The goal is to Function Optimally and to Thrive, not to merely ‘not be sick’.
Here are the top 7 Functional Medicine Tests that your doctor should be ordering for you to be optimally healthy. (The tests are listed in no particular order)
1. Comprehensive Functional Blood Testing
Comprehensive functional blood testing measures your blood sugar level, electrolyte balance, kidneys, thyroid, liver and many more areas. This test will provide important information regarding type 2 diabetes and metabolic disorders, thyroid and liver and kidney function, inflammation, neuropathy as well as key vitamin and mineral levels. It can also be customized to include additional markers that are specific to your individual health issues.
2. Micronutrient Testing
Are vitamin, mineral, antioxidant or fat and protein deficiencies underlying your health condition? Are the vitamins and supplements you’re taking working or are they even necessary? If you have asked yourself these questions then micronutrient testing is the test for you. How much of anything do I really need and how much actually gets into my cells? Micronutrient testing measures the functional levels and deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fatty acids and amino acids. We can use these results to determine if there are deficiencies in your body, or if you are over-supplementing in an area.
When it comes to health issues, there is no one size fits all. At Living Health Integrative Medicine, comprehensive blood panels are one way to catch any underlying causes of health problems a patient might have that are overlooked in a more conventional medical practice. These tests ultimately provide information on your body’s chemical stability and metabolism.
3. Food and Chemical Sensitivity Testing: Are the foods and chemicals you are exposed to making you sick?
What is food sensitivity testing?
Food sensitivity testing is a laboratory method that identifies cellular immune reactions to foods, chemicals and other substances. There are many labs that perform food sensitivity testing and among these labs there are various testing methods. We perform tests that examine the IgG and IgA immune response.
One function of the immune system is to protect the body from foreign invaders. But due to various reasons, such as medications, environmental toxins, stress etc., the immune system can lose tolerance and react in an abnormal manner. The immune systems’ reactions can range from mild to severe. When the immune system reacts to a food in the gut or food proteins that have entered the body, this is a common but abnormal reaction. This reaction can lead to many different symptoms and conditions. These potential food and chemical triggers have been linked to health issues such as type 1 and 2 diabetes, neuropathy, gastrointestinal problems, hyperactivity/ADD, obesity, eczema, migraines, joint pain, auto immune conditions, depression and lethargy.
One of the food sensitivity tests that we conduct is a gluten sensitivity and cross-reactivity test, which reveals if your immune system will respond to the ingestion of typical gluten-free foods as though they are actually gluten-containing. It will reflect the sensitivity or intolerance on a cellular level.
Other food testing that we do tests for hyper immune reactions to almost 200 common foods, as well as many common environmental toxins, heavy metals, etc.
4. Advanced Hormone and Adrenal Gland Testing
Do you have Adrenal Gland Fatigue or Dysfunction? Do you feel like your hormones are out of whack, but blood tests keep coming back saying you’re ‘normal’? Are you dragging all day, but then can’t sleep at night?
Saliva testing is a risk-free, convenient and precise method utilized to access a person’s stress level (Adrenal glands) and hormone- related issues. The tests are conducted with a 92-96% accuracy rate.
In contrast to blood tests that can only examine the level of hormones in a person’s tissue, saliva testing examines “unbound, or ‘free’ hormone levels.” Unbound hormone levels are the hormone levels that are available to be used by body tissue, active and ready for action. This gives the examiner a clearer idea of the levels of hormones that are influencing the tissues as opposed to just the level of hormones in the tissues.
Why Test Adrenal Gland Function?
You may have heard of your Adrenal Glands referred to as the “stress glands”. The adrenal gland function determines and is affected by your exposure to chemical, emotional and physical stress.
Some of the common symptoms of Adrenal Dysfunction include:
Depression or Anxiety
Weight gain or inability to lose weight despite dieting
Low blood sugar (shakiness between meals)
Low blood pressure
Prolonged stress can not only stress the adrenal glands, but over time can result in deficiencies of other key hormones, such as progesterone, estrogen and testosterone.
5. Stool Testing for Optimal Gastrointestinal Health
Keeping your intestinal tract functioning correctly is imperative for your overall health. Your intestinal tract has specific amount and types of “good” bacteria. When that bacterium becomes unbalanced, a condition called dysbiosis, there are many common illnesses that can ensue. This includes but is not limited to Diabetes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Cardiovascular Disease and Autoimmune Disorders.
Gut dysbiosis also affects your body’s ability to absorb and digest food and nutrients. You could be eating all the right foods and taking the right supplements but what good are they if your body is not utilizing these nutrients.
The health of your intestinal tract is important in overall health. Research is revealing the intimate connection between your gut health and your brain health. If you are concerned about your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia or other age-related cognitive decline then keeping your gut healthy is one factor to consider. Other brain related issues include depression, ADD/ADHD.
6. Organic Acids Test
The Organic Acids Test (OAT) is a functional urine test that provides a comprehensive look at the overall metabolic health of the individual. There are over 70 individual markers that show signs of oxidative stress, neurotransmitter levels, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and intestinal yeast and bacteria infections.
The OAT is a great test to evaluate the intestinal yeast and bacteria in the body. Abnormally high levels of intestinal yeast and bacteria can worsen behavior and mood disorders as well as immune function. People with these disorders emit several irregular organic acids. The root of these high levels of intestinal yeast and bacteria are often due to oral antibiotic use, high sugar diets, contaminated foods, immune deficiencies and genetics.
If the Organic Acid Test indicates abnormalities, treatments could include taking supplements or a dietary adjustment. Upon further measure patients and practitioners have reported more energy and alertness, bowel regularity, decreased hyperactivity and decreased abdominal pain.
The proper diagnosis is essential for putting together the right treatment plan for a patient. Choosing the correct laboratory tests are essential for the right diagnosis and optimal function. Is your doctor running these tests on you?