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General Health - The importance of health screening

By Jacquie Lane ND DipNT CNHC NTCC, from Biological Testing Services

Finding the cause of a health problem can frequently be a difficult task. Often, very different conditions show identical or similar symptoms, causing time and money to be wasted on inappropriate therapies. This can be very frustrating, time-consuming and potentially expensive. Stool testing, supported by mouth swab analysis, can help eliminate the guesswork and improve results through the naturopathic principle of treating the underlying cause of a problem. It is possible to test for pathogenic yeasts and parasites and to check for leaky gut, plus, with a mouth swab, lactose intolerance can also be tested.

The advantages of stool testing

  • Stool testing is a method with proven success in determining a number of parameters relating to digestive and immune health.
  • The sample is easy to obtain in one’s own home without the need for specialist equipment, nurses or needles.
  • The underlying cause(s) of a health problem can be found, aiding diagnosis and success in difficult cases.
  • Test results can help tailor, and therefore improve, the effectiveness of a nutritional programme.
  • Stool testing is cost effective compared to many other forms of testing.
  • The effectiveness of a nutritional programme can be measured.

Case study

Rachel, a 35 year old, had suffered with bloating and digestive issues and unexplained fatigue for many years. After searching the internet, she put herself on a very restrictive anti-fungal diet and took what she thought was a good supplement plan. Five years later, she was still suffering. Rachel took a stool test for Candida, which showed she had a medium-high colonisation of Candida albicans. She followed the correct nutritional plan for her, based on her results, and eight weeks later, she reported no bloating, a significant rise in her energy levels and virtually no digestive problems. The relief Rachel felt in a relatively short period of time was enormous. 

Many people self diagnose and restrict their diets unnecessarily, taking the wrong supplements, wasting time and money and causing further distress. Below are some examples of tests that can be carried out using stool or mouth swab samples. 

Which tests to choose?

Mycology – Candida test:

What is Candida and intestinal yeasts?

Candida is a kind of yeast; a tiny single-celled organism, which in normal circumstances is a harmless part of our intestinal flora. However, sometimes, when we are not so well, these Candida yeasts can develop the ability to get nasty, grow into large numbers and cause symptoms. This stool test will analyse the fungal colonisation, including all Candida species and other yeasts or moulds, in the intestinal lumen. The test is applicable for all who have the following symptoms:

  • Heavy bloating, especially after eating
  • Diarrhoea or constipation (frequently, these alternate)
  • Skin problems
  • Problems after antibiotic treatment
  • Nausea and acid regurgitation
  • Extreme tiredness and lethargy
  • Sweet cravings
  • Depression, allergies, recurrent colds, eczema and palpitations.
  • Recurrent vaginal thrush, recurrent cystitis and more 

Intestinal parasites stool test:

What are parasites?

A parasite is an organism that lives off another organism and may harm its host. If parasites are present, they steal your food, and even the supplements you take!

What causes us to get parasites?

Everyone is exposed to parasites. However, some people will be less resistant to their attack and have a weak immune system; therefore, the parasites can take hold.

What are the symptoms of parasites?

Parasites can mimic other disorders, or cause no symptoms, but when they do, they can include:

  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Gas, bloating and cramps
  • Skin problems
  • Insomnia
  • Sugar cravings
  • Weight loss (unexplained weight loss should be checked by a GP)
  • Headaches/backaches etc
  • Nasal drip/nose picking
  • Foul-smelling stools
  • Food sensitivities
  • Fatigue

 Alpha-1-antitrypsin (leaky gut) stool test:

What is leaky gut?

Leaky gut is a condition in which the mucosal lining of the intestinal tract becomes porous and irritated. The mucosal lining acts like a barrier defence, not allowing nutrients to pass though and preventing undigested food, parasites, Candida and toxins from entering the bloodstream. 

What causes leaky gut?

It can be caused by stress, processed foods, Candida or other fungal overgrowth, medication, bacterial imbalance, not chewing sufficiently, drinking too much liquid with meals, poor food combining and overeating. 

What are the symptoms of leaky gut?

Mainly food intolerances, but also: 

  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Candida
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Food allergies
  • Malabsorption of nutrients
  • IBS

Lactose intolerance test:

This can be tested from a mouth swab by taking cells from the inside of the cheek. People with a lactose intolerance either cannot properly digest lactose (milk sugar) from food sources cannot digest it at all. This is caused by a lack of the enzyme lactase. 

Symptoms of lactose intolerance

These are always diarrhoea and/or diarrhoea-like problems and can occur as early as 15-30 minutes after the lactose-containing meal, a few hours later or even in the morning of the following day. Common symptoms include:

  • Mushy stool
  • Stomach rumbling
  • Bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Wind
  • Feeling sick after food
  • Stomach ache
  • Belching
  • Colic-like pain.

It is always advisable not to waste time and money on the wrong nutritional programme, especially if you have been enduring symptoms for a while. Do a test and target your diet plan to your specific results.

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