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In Part 1 of this series, I touched upon the fact that there is a distinction between conventional (a.k.a. traditional) and functional medicine and their relations to testing. I mentioned content abou t what and when to test. It is true that, at some point and in many cases, testing may be necessary to uncover “what’s going on in there” (your body), yet I made it clear the importance of being wise about testing.
In Part 2 of this series, I focused on providing a list of tests that are helpful when investigating health problems and these tests are typically covered by insurance/a health share plan. I also indicated that sometimes you can save money by ordering testing directly online (and why) even if the claim for the test would be accepted by your insurance/health share plan.
In many cases, testing outside what your insurance/health share plan will cover is necessary if you really want to uncover and address the root causes of your health problems. A few issues, though, can be determined without spending money on testing. It is not necessary or even recommended to do all this type of testing at once. Testing and issues to be addressed can occur over a time span that works for you. In addition, a personalized approach should be taken to know what tests to do and when. I work with my clients based on the mindset they are each unique and individual and should be treated as special as they are.
The focus of this Part 3 and final article of this series will be on testing that is (most of the time) an out-of-pocket expense not covered by insurance/health share plan. As you may already be aware, traditional healthcare is not about determining root causes. Outside of acute or emergency situations where traditional healthcare is (absolutely) necessary, traditional medicine is about treating symptoms; it is not set up to handle chronic conditions in a way to reverse or overcome them. Therefore, you may already be aware that when dealing with a chronic condition (e.g. autoimmune, Type II Diabetes, etc.), investing in your health and being your own best advocate are key to reversing your symptoms and overcoming your chronic suffering and in many cases, reversing your need to ongoing medications.
This list of tests is certainly not exhaustive, and it may not even include certain tests needed to accommodate your specific predicament. These are some common testing choices that would apply to those dealing with chronic symptoms/conditions including autoimmune. These tests are listed based on the category they fall into and in no priority order.
Uncovering nutrient deficiencies is essential. To work optimally, our body was created to need and utilize a multitude of nutrients. I’d like to make a point that is a bit off tangent but important. Though it is always best to obtain all the nutrients we need from a clean, healthy, wholefood based diet, it is near impossible to do these days even if your diet is perfect. Even with organically grown food, much of our soil is depleted of nutrients and contaminated with harmful substances. In addition, our bodies are burdened now more than ever with toxic elements from our environment (inside our homes and outside), things we put on our skin, and more. If someone is already suffering with health issues, their body is already functioning far less than optimally. It is likely that the nutrients in the food being eaten, as healthy as it may be, is not being fully absorbed and utilized to its best.
- Omega-3 Index(also includes testing Vitamin D (25-hodroxy vitamin D):Having good omega-3 and vitamin D levels are incredibly important to having optimal health. Even though you can get a Vitamin D test done through your regular doctor, you won’t be able to get the Omega-3 test that way. This is a combination test with both and I provided the link because it is economical. For healthy individuals, if results are good, getting this done once per year is fine. If abnormalities exist or health conditions can trigger these results to be less than optimal, checking them more often may be necessary.
- RBC Magnesium:The typical serum/blood test done for magnesium (with traditional doctor ordered testing) is not accurate to uncover a magnesium deficiency. Though this is also a blood sample, this is intracellular level testing and much better to determine magnesium deficiency. It is incredibly important to have healthy magnesium levels and many folks are deficient. Magnesium influences hundreds of processes in the body. For healthy individuals, if results are good, getting this done once per year is fine. If you are not taking any magnesium supplementation, having this done is very important unless you determine to supplement and bypass the testing completely. If abnormalities exist in test results or health conditions/medications can trigger these results to be less than optimal, checking it more often may be necessary.
- Zinc:This is also another incredibly important nutrient to ensure you are not deficient or even have inadequate levels. Paying for testing may not be necessary. There is a rather accurate DIY way to determine if you should supplement with zinc and how much. Keep in mind, supplementing with zinc is important with many health conditions, and great to support your immune system when feeling a sickness coming on. Click here for a good article about zinc and this DIY test. You would have to purchase Liquid Zinc Assay to complete the test. However, you can also use this for anyone in your family and to supplement with. No money wasted or lost. In addition, the Alkaline Phosphatase level that is tested with the CMP (Comprehensive Metabolic Profile/Panel) that your regular doctor can order is also an indicator of zinc status.
- Vitamin B12 (MMA test): For this test, use the link and type “Methylmalonic Acid (MMA), Urine” in the search box. This test is much more accurate in uncovering a B12 deficiency. Also, a B12 deficiency can indirectly lead to a folate (see next) deficiency. Here is a great site on B12.
- Folic Acid/Folate (Folate RBC test): For this test, use the link and type “Folate, RBC” in the search box. Folate (a.k.a. Vitamin B9) and B12 work closely in various functions in the body. It is important that when supplementing with folic acid or folate (the better form of supplement to take is folate in the form of 5-MTHF), you know if you have adequate levels of B12. Heavy folate supplementation can mask symptoms of a B12 deficiency.
NUTRIENTS, DIGESTION, DETOXIFICATION, OXIDATIVE STRESS PLUS MORE
- Comprehensive Nutritional Evaluation & Lots More: For this test, use the link and type “NutrEval® FMV W/Nutrient & Toxic Elements Plasma-Genova Kit” in the search box. You cannot beat the value of this test and what you get. This is a very valuable test. This not only provides quite an extensive view of numerous nutrients and amino acids, but also markers that uncover any problems areas relating to your: microbiome, liver & detoxification, digestion & metabolism, inflammation, oxidative stress, cellular energy, neurotransmitters, and heavy metal exposure. If you choose this test, you would not need the following nutrient tests (as indicated separately herein) as this would include them: Omega-3 Index, Vitamin B12 MMA test, and Zinc test.
I have personally dealt with and overcome many food sensitivities so besides formal training, I am definitely an expert in this. Though some have allergies to foods, more common are sensitivities. Here are a couple articles that provide more understanding about food allergies and food sensitivities. You can have food allergy testing (measures IgEantibodies associated with allergies) done through your regular doctor. Food sensitivity testing (measures IgGantibodies associated with sensitivities) can also be done through your regular doctor. However, there are limitations to it. Let’s look at IgG food sensitivity testing compared to the one I use for myself and also recommend for many of my clients. Note that you can also uncover food sensitivities using the elimination diet as explained in this article. Depending on your timing (elimination diet may take longer) and complexity of issues, having testing done can be a very wise choice. It is important to know there is no food sensitivity test that is foolproof and being very observant of your diet and symptoms (delayed ones especially) is essential.
- IgG Food Sensitivity Test: This test is based upon measurement of IgG antibody (immunoglobulin) levels. It is imperative this immune reaction mechanism is working optimally in your body for this test to be accurate. For many suffering with chronic health problems and autoimmune conditions, this may not be the case. The other challenge with having this test done by your doctor is that it may not test as many foods & food additives that are tests do. If you do want to have the IgG food sensitivity test done by your doctor so it can be claimed with your insurance/health share plan, your best bet is to first have your antibody levels checked. Click here for the test (Total IgA, IgG, IgE, IgM Antibodies) for that, although you can also see if your regular doctor can run it. This is a great test to see how your immune system is functioning. If you have low levels (immunoglobulin deficiencies), results from tests that measure your immune reaction such as the IgG food sensitivity test will not be accurate.
- MRT (Mediator Release Test) Food Sensitivity Test: One of the benefits of this test is that it tests a large number of food and food additive items in addition to advising the severity of sensitivity. This is the test that I now use and recommend because it is based on
- There are more specific sensitivity testing, such as for gluten and cross-reactive foods to gluten. Some foods can have a gluten cross-reactivity reaction in our body and it means that when we eat certain foods, it mimics the reaction we have when we eat gluten. Reach out to me if you have questions about this testing. It can get complicated so working with a good practitioner is always best.
- DUTCH Test: Numerous hormone testing is available (thyroid, female and male sex hormones, cortisol, DHEA, etc.), yet it doesn’t mean it is all as accurate as we want it to be or it shows us the full picture. Besides blood testing for Thyroid hormones and antibodies (more details in Part 2 of this article series) that your regular doctor can order, the DUTCH Comprehensive test is by far the best test to measure everything else. It provides insight into not only the hormone levels, but also their metabolites. Some hormones can be accurately evaluated when measured in blood, some with saliva, and some with urine. The DUTCH dried urine test is accurate for all the hormones (as mentioned above it does include thyroid hormones). For my clients, I am able to offer $100 discount for this test. It also measures some neurotransmitters and nutrients. You cannot beat the value you get for the price of this test. If you get this test, there would be no need to get the Vitamin B12 MMA test.
First, gut testing (utilizing stool specimen) is critical if, at the very least, you have flares from your autoimmune conditions, are suffering from chronic conditions, and/or have ongoing or frequent GI/gut symptoms.
Quality GUT/GI testing includes measuring beneficial bacteria, opportunistic organism and pathogens, inflammatory and absorption markers, gut permeability, and immunology. There are a few comprehensive GI/Gut tests that I think are great and I’ve had most of them. There are many similarities among them. There are also some differences and those differences will mean more to some folks than others. Rather than get into all that fancy detail, I will mention one of my favorites. It is the GI-MAP (Microbial Assay Plus) by Diagnostic Solutions. In some cases, your regular doctor may be able to order this and it may be accepted as “out-of-network” by some PPO plans. It is always worth a try. If not, at least you are aware of this and other comprehensive gut/GI testing that is available.
- GI-MAP test with add-on: Add-on mean that for the same specimen to be utilized, you can pay a smaller additional charge for testing of additional items that are not included in the original test. The Add-on recommended for the GI-MAP test is Zonulin. Zonulin, along with other substances, help to measure intestinal permeability, a.k.a. leaky gut.
– Main GI-MAP Test: For this test, use the link and type “GI MAP (GI Microbial Assay Plus-Diagnostic Solutions Kit”in the search box.
– Zonulin Add-On to GI Map: For this test, use the link and type “Zonulin (Add-On Only)-Diagnostic Solutions Kit” in the search box.
- Most quality gut/GI testing utilizes stool specimen. However, another quite common condition that can cause many health issues is SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). This is measured from a breath test. This test is quite expensive considering it only measures one element. It is possible for you to treat this condition and spend less on the treatment than the test itself. Thus, you have to determine if you believe it would be best to purchase the test and discussing this with a practitioner like myself would be helpful. Even if you did not have SIBO, the natural treatment is not something that would harm you and would provide other benefits as well. Use this link for SIBO test and type “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) 3-Hr Glucose/Lactulose Combo-BioHealth Kit” in the search box.
Other important testing includes the following and of course, this is not exhaustive. Because these situations can be complex, you want to be sure you are working with a good practitioner who can guide you through testing recommendations, interpretation, and treatment options. I can certainly help you. The most important thing is that as you learn and grow in your knowledge, and then take wise positive action with it.
- Epstein Barr Virus (EBV): Many of you are probably familiar with the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). What some don’t realize and many doctors do not test for or understand is that EBV can cause chronic problems. Many know EBV based on the term “mono,” (short for mononucleosis) which is caused by this virus. Mono is an acute reaction to the virus and easily tested for. However, regardless whether you’ve had mono, most have been exposed to EBV (about 95% of the population) and it can cause a chronic active infection. More and more research is showing that “stealth” viruses like EBV can be a cause or trigger to many underlying symptoms and conditions, including autoimmune. Because this is more complex, it is best to discuss with a practitioner. This is something that can be addressed early on through changes you would make to address other areas such as dietary and other lifestyle changes that support inflammation reduction and optimal immune system functioning.
- Toxicities: Mycotoxins (metabolites produced by fungi such as with mold), plastics, herbicides and pesticides, heavy metal and elements, etc. None of us are immune to being exposed to most of this and our bodies can become overburdened in these areas. We are exposed to these toxicities from amalgam in our mouth, to water pollution, industrial exposure, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that we inhale in solvents, paints & materials, medicines/vaccines, foods, fertilizers, sludge, plastics, and more. Whether we ingest/consume them internally, have skin exposure, or airborne exposure, addressing these toxicities can be complex and should not be done without proper guidance.
- Lyme Infection: There is various testing for lyme disease and if this is something you have already been diagnosed with and want to address, it would be best to work with an expert specifically in this area.
Being wise with testing and then taking action with the results makes a huge difference in the progress you can make towards uncovering root causes, overcoming health problems, and having relief from your symptoms.
We have to keep in mind that once we have already been experiencing chronic symptoms or diagnosed with a chronic condition, our bodies have already been beaten down for some time. By the time symptoms are noticeable, many areas in our body have not been functioning well at all, let alone optimally. The root causes and triggers can be found in so many different areas so hence the reason for various areas to test.
My goal is to help folks thrive in their health so they enjoy their life and can do the things they dream of doing. I hope that you have found some valuable healthy nuggets to get you thinking about testing and what steps you may want to take next. Investing in your health is the key to truly making progress in having quality health. Unfortunately, this may take choosing to budget for your health instead of other things. I realize that is easier said than done. I get it, have been there, done that, and continue to invest in more activities for my health than others. Know that when you make choices to do that, it will pay off and you won’t have regrets of feeling better and participating in activities that you were once not able to do.
Until next time, here’s to YOU thriving in wellness!