As we know, our digestive system is a window into a much larger picture of our health and wellness. Gut health can now be traced back to almost every other area of the body–our immune system autoimmune factors, brain health, joint health and the list continues. Knowing that our gut houses so much important information, it’s crucial to have the best tools to assess its health. One of the ways we do this is through GI Map testing.
What is a GI Map?
GI Map stool tests offer a unique DNA technique as a powerful, sensitive gene analysis to determine genotypes and detect pathogens which can be missed by conventional methods. This tool can detect parasites, bacteria, fungi and more, allowing practitioners to hone in on the best treatment plans.
Once we know what pathogens exist, we can make better choices on the path forward. Pathogens have the power to:
- Release toxins
- Confuse the immune system to attack itself–triggering an autoimmune disease
- Cause damage to the GI lining
- Be pro inflammatory
- Cause malabsorption or reduced stomach acid
- Slow metabolism and influence weight gain and insulin resistance
- Cause infections outside the GI tract (ie: UTIs, abscesses)
Pathogens are likely to cause disease if the host’s defense is vulnerable. Vulnerability increases with imbalanced microbiota, poor protective immune system mechanisms, toxic exposures, poor diet, antibiotics or antihistamine use, long term symptoms.
When to Use GI Maps
Some of our main flags that warrant a deeper conversation and potential for GI maps is if a person has a history of multiple antibiotic use, food borne illness, long travel history, and symptoms listed below. Additionally it’s really important if you are masking gastrointestinal symptoms with medications or supplements. Remember, our bodies are born to do the work so when we need supplementary support for them to do some of the basic work, it’s time to dig deeper to optimize health since our microbiome is a major determinant of wellness and health outcomes.
RELATED: A Functional Doctors Approach to IBS
What Symptoms to Look For
- Gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, acid reflux, malodorous or excessive gas and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)
- Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis), IBS, GERD, asthma, diabetes, autoimmune disease like hashimotos and rheumatoid arthritis
- Other symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, skin conditions like eczema or rash, trouble sleeping, known adrenal issues and other chronic illnessness
Test Results Are In
Once we’ve conducted the GI Map testing, it’s all about breaking down the results. As stated above, we want to understand the what. Could it issues with the microbiome, parasites, fungi, bacteria and so forth. A standard GI Map offers insights on whether commensal or good, protective, bacteria are present. Whether there’s a presence of pathogenic overgrowth of bacteria, viruses, parasites, worms, fungal organisms or H Pylori. Further we can dig into autoimmune related bacteria, markers of the immune system, leaky gut, digestive enzymes, enzymes of poor estrogen elimination contributing to estrogen dominance, poor estrogen detoxification, and increased risk of cancer. Wow. That’s a mouthful, but hopefully that articulates the insights this kind of testing provides!
For our patients it’s equally as important to know what treatment might look like. Treatment is aimed at the individual’s findings. This may include antimicrobials, biofilm degrader, probiotics, supportive nutrients for gut barrier integrity, prokinetic, digestive enzymes, or dietary adjustments. Antibiotics are not always recommended because antibiotic resistance may worsen the infection. All this is to say, the KEY is the individual (you). We don’t have a one-size fits all for this, or any of our treatments–which is what makes integrative medicine so unique.