Michael Smith is a Naturopath and Functional Medicine Practitioner at Planet Naturopath. He has provided a guide for functional pathology testing in Australia.
If you are following a Bulletproof lifestyle, or even just looking into it to see how it can help with your health and performance, then you must be passionate about your health. We all want improved energy, concentration and performance. And it’s not just for right now. Imagine if you could continue to feel great into your 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. This is where functional pathology testing can help.
Optimising your nutrition is an important part of feeling great right now and into the future.
To get started with this, we first have to look at the deficiencies.
Nutritional deficiencies are often caused by poor diet and lifestyle choices though it is possible to still have nutritional deficiencies while eating an optimal diet. This can be caused by genetics, gut infections (like SIBO), stress, toxic environments, poor sleep or even excessive amounts of exercise.
Understanding what your body may be lacking can help you optimise your diet and supplements.
The standard doctor’s checkup
Having a yearly checkup with your doctor is a good idea, including doing the standard blood tests which can sometimes reveal if you have an underlying pathology, but these tests are quite basic and can often miss underlying nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances.
Often I see clients, who have been unwell for a while, visit their doctor and have the standard tests done. They come back and are told they are “within the range” and nothing is wrong, yet they feel far from right.
The reference ranges on blood tests are just a guide and usually only indicate a severe deficiency. If you are living a Bulletproof lifestyle, you aren’t just looking to fix deficiencies, you’re looking for optimisation. For example, the reference range for B12 is 160-800 pmol/l, but the optimal range is 500-800. In the short term, the body can cope with deficiencies, but they may have long-term consequences for your health.
Functional Medicine Testing
Functional medicine testing is a lot more detailed than the standard blood test, and the aim is to identify the cause of a health problem, or nutritional deficiencies before they can cause health issues. This can involve blood testing, urine samples or saliva hormone testing.
Here is a list of my favourite functional pathology tests to help you optimise your health:
- High sensitive C-Reactive Protein (HsCRP). The reference range is 0-10 but ideally you want to be below 1, the HsCRP test measures inflammation which is the driving force behind chronic disease. As a side note, one of the best natural anti-inflammatories is Turmeric.
- Apolipoprotein B (ApoB). This the main component of LDL and a good indicator of LDL particle number. A high ApoB result is a bigger predictor of heart disease than total cholesterol or LDL. Other essential cardiovascular tests include lipoprotein a, fibrinogen, homocysteine and LDL particle size.
- HbA1C. This an indicator of pre-diabetes and gives you a three-month average of your glucose levels. It’s a more accurate test than total glucose. A Bulletproof diet is one of the best ways to lower HbA1C levels, Berberine and Lipoic acid can also help.
- Vitamin D. The optimal range is 100-150 nm/l. While many people are deficient (which can lead to immune, neurological and many other health issues), it is possible to have excess Vitamin D if you are supplementing. Excess Vitamin D can lead to kidney and cardiovascular issues.
- Iron. Studies which measures your iron levels plus your ferritin levels, which are your iron stores. Deficiency in ferritin can cause fatigue, but excess ferritin can also cause fatigue and oxidative damage, which leads to chronic health problems.
- Thyroid Testing. The standard doctor’s test only includes TSH and this isn’t the best indicator of thyroid issues. It is important to also test T4 and T3. If you have a family history of thyroid issues or digestion problems I would also test the thyroid antibodies to make sure you don’t have the beginnings of an autoimmune condition.
There are many more pathology test options and the best ones for you are going to depend on your current signs and symptoms.
Specialised Test Options
Adrenal and Sex Hormone Testing. This can either be done with a saliva hormone test or a DUTCH urine test. Both of these methods measure cortisol at 4-5 intervals throughout the day as well as your sex hormones. When these hormones are out of balance it can lead to fatigue, weight gain, digestive problems, mood changes, low libido, PMS symptoms and poor recovery from exercise.
Organic Acids Testing is my favourite test as it measures many different aspects of your health. This is a urine test that measures:
- Citric acid cycle (how your body makes energy)
- How your body is metabolising fats into energy (important if you are on a high fat diet)
- B Vitamin markers including methylmalonic acid (which is a better indicator of B12 status than a blood test)
- Coenzyme Q10
- Liver function, dysbiosis and candida makers
- Metabolites of the neurotransmitters; dopamine and serotonin
If you are experiencing gas, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation or reflux these are all signs that your digestive system is not functioning optimally. My two favourite tests for identifying the cause of digestion problems are a comprehensive digestive stool analysis (CDSA) and a test for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – which is a breath test. Identifying the cause of a digestion problem helps to make treatment more specific for you and can save you time, money and discomfort in the long term.
Not everyone is going to need all of these tests. The best functional pathology testing options are going to depend on your family history, current health and what signs and symptoms you are experiencing now.
If you would like to know more information on what might be the best test options for you contact Michael at email@example.com for a free 15-minute consultation to discuss the best options for you, just mention this article on Living Bulletproof.
Michael Smith is a Naturopath and Functional Medicine Practitioner at Planet Naturopath. Specialising in hormonal disorders, adrenal, thyroid and digestive function, Michael works with clients from the chronically ill to athletes wanting to improve performance. Consultations are available via Skype or phone and the functional pathology testing is available throughout Australia.