What is Functional Testing?

You will probably hear the term functional diagnostic testing being bandied about much more in the world of nutrition and functional medicine and are wondering what the difference is between functional diagnostic testing and conventional diagnostic testing.

Well…. conventional diagnostic testing looks predominantly at the presence of disease markers. Functional testing on the other hand provides a more holistic approach and is an effective way for nutritional therapy practitioners to identify and actually get to the root cause of a disease or disorder. There are a number of ways these tests can be carried out, using samples from blood, urine, saliva, stools and even hair!

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These tests are personalised and are usually recommended based on your individual health status and concerns. The tests enable nutritional therapy practitioners to look at the wider context of a client’s health status by reviewing their nutrition, lifestyle, genetic predisposition, impact of environmental toxins, metabolism and gut health.

So, what are the main types of available functional diagnostic tests?

  • 1

    Hormone health testing

Stress can have a huge effect on our hormones associated with the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands (e.g. cortisol). Chronic stress can create underlying or very obvious symptoms of chronic fatigue, insomnia, chronic pain, metabolic dysregulation (e.g. diabetes, weight gain, insulin resistance), depression and cognitive decline. Stress can also affect and dysregulate the immune system and affect gut health.

What does this test do and who is it for?

This test requires a saliva sample and is really useful for assessing your stress response and resiliency and would be useful for anyone who is impacted by chronic stress and experiencing the symptoms described above.

  • 2

    Gut microbiome health testing

A healthy gut health is essential for efficient nutrient absorption and the excretion of toxins, as well as a healthy microbiome to support immune health. Someone with gastrointestinal issues is likely to experience issues with digestion, excretion, gut inflammation and overall gut microbiome health.

What does this test do and who is it for?

This test usually requires a stool test. So, it would be a useful test for someone who is experiencing typical poor gut health symptoms that include gas, bloating, indigestion, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and constipation.

  • 3

    Metabolic health testing

Metabolic health testing is really useful for testing a number of key nutritional biomarkers and assessing any insufficiencies or imbalances needed to identify the functional support required to optimise digestive support for the uptake of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids. Nutrient insufficiencies can lead to a number of health concerns that include weight issues, mood disorders, chronic fatigue, metabolic syndrome, oxidative stress and nutrient digestion and absorption.

What does this test do and who is it for?

This test requires a collection of a urine sample, and sometimes a finger prick blood test or mouth swab may be required. This test is very useful for understanding nutrient insufficiencies and would be useful for anyone impacted by symptoms of chronic fatigue and stress, inflammation, and mood disorders.

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