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Is Nutritional Testing Right for You?

Nutritional Testing


As an informed patient, you understand that nutrition is important. You know that the foods you eat affect your health. Conversely, the things you do not consume – but perhaps need – may also have a tremendous impact on your body. That’s why many people take vitamins and supplements to feel better and prevent disease. While this practice can be beneficial, many variables exist. It is important to understand which supplements are right for your body, your lifestyle and your circumstances, thus ensuring your unique needs are met without wasting money on items that could be unnecessary or even harmful.

In addition, the USDA recommended daily allowance is the minimum nutrient requirement for not developing a nutrient-dependent disease. It does not reflect optimal dosing or therapeutic dosing and is based on an average adult. Many nutrient and micronutrient deficiencies can cause subclinical symptoms that will eventually become chronic or more serious if not corrected. Genova® NutrEval testing is able to identify many micronutrient deficiencies as well as toxins, which allows us to develop recommendations that are individual to your needs.

Nutrition affects many aspects of your health. Here are some diseases and conditions affected by nutrition:

  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Bursitis
  • Depression
  • Eczema
  • Fatigue
  • Heart disease
  • Joint pain
  • Fertility
  • Intestinal symptoms (bloating, diarrhea, gas)

It’s not just people with conditions who need micronutrients testing, in fact some seemingly healthy people are deficient. Athletes or people who train hard or for endurance need higher requirements for certain nutrients and quickly use up their stores. Even if they are supplementing it may not be the right supplement or the right amount. Vegans can have dietary insufficiencies if they are not very careful. Amino acids from proteins are building blocks for just about everything in our body and a deficiency in even one can cause many downstream effects. Neurotransmitters are made from many of these amino acids so a deficiency can cause many mood and pain symptoms. B-vitamins are also of concern for Vegans.

There are many micronutrients that are important for the proper function of our metabolic pathways and mitochondrial function. For example, there are also micronutrients that are important for the proper functioning of our thyroid such as vitamin D, A, selenium, and iron to name a few. For all these pathways you need every nutrient some of which can be limiting factors that cause the whole pathway to slow or shut down without it.

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you may benefit from nutritional testing.

  • Do you take multiple supplements and vitamins, or think they might be beneficial?
  • Do you frequently consume fast food?
  • Is beef, pork, lamb, or poultry your main source of protein?
  • Do you consume fish less than twice weekly?
  • Do you have metal tooth fillings?
  • Do you have dry skin or cracked nails?
  • Do you have trouble with concentration, memory or learning?
  • Do your cuts or wounds take a long time to heal?
  • Do you suffer from mood swings?
  • Do you have a chronic illness with little or no relief?
  • Do you have difficulty losing weight?
  • Do you get sick often or prone to infections?
  • Have you recently had chemotherapy?
  • Do you use margarine or vegetable oils with a long shelf life?

What nutritional imbalances may affect you?

Fatty Acids
Fatty acids are essential, however, too little or too much fat can cause health problems. Reduced levels of certain fats can result in depression, hyperactivity, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, as well as early senility. In addition, pregnant and lactating mothers should have their fatty acids tested to ensure their children receive the fats needed for proper brain and nerve development.

Dietary Minerals
Minerals in our body are regulators of our body’s processes. Many minerals are derived from the diet, and sometimes minerals are added as supplements. Beneficial minerals include magnesium, copper and manganese. If proper amounts are not obtained, problems such as joint pain, weight problems, depressed libido, depression, or anxiety can occur. On the other hand, exposure to mercury, lead, arsenic or other heavy metals can be harmful, causing fatigue, emotional disturbances, even renal failure.

Antioxidants are protective molecules that reduce free radical damage or oxidative stress. Antioxidants are essential for the body’s ability to protect against free radicals, and for healthy function of the neurological, endocrine, and immune systems. Oxidative stress is linked to premature aging, heart disease, neurological diseases, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Cutting edge lab tests from Genova Diagnostics deliver precise insights about the way nutrition and environment impact your body’s needs. Ask your doctor about the insights you could gain from nutritional testing to achieve optimal health.

Amino Acids
Amino acids are integral to healthy body chemistry. They serve as the body’s basic building blocks and are responsible for the production of bone and muscle. When certain amino acids are too high or low, they can cause fatigue, increased cardiovascular risk, and impair mood and cognitive function.

Organic Acids
Organic acid testing is a way to measure whether your body is getting and using nutrients to drive optimal health. Just as your car has additives and devices that protect it, nutrients serve to protect your heart, brain, and other critical organs. Like a car’s gauges warn of potential problems, your body has certain chemical indicators, known as organic acids that can alert you to potential problems.

If you would like more information or would like to schedule nutritional testing, please contact our office or book online.

This information is courtesy of our specialty laboratory partner, Genova.

Neurotransmitter Testing

Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that regulate numerous physical and emotional processes such as mental performance, emotional state, physical energy and pain response. They help the brain balance the highs and lows of feelings and manage the hormonal signals that are sent to other organs in the body. Numerous clinical studies have shown that inadequate neurotransmitter function has a profound influence on overall health and well-being.

Neurotransmitter Testing

Neurotransmitter imbalances are associated with many chronic symptoms and conditions including:

  • Low pain tolerance
  • Depressed mood
  • Anxiety
  • Adrenal dysfunction
  • Fatigue
  • Poor sleep
  • Low energy and stamina
  • No motivation
  • Loss of mental focus, or cognitive fog
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Addiction or dependency
  • Loss of appetite control
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Cravings
  • Low libido
  • Sexual dysfunction

Compounding these symptoms of imbalance are physical and emotional stresses, poor diet and many bioactive substances like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, many of the medications used to manage these conditions as well as some cholesterol-lowering medications.

Identifying and managing neurotransmitter imbalances is facilitated with a noninvasive urinary test. Testing provides a tool to understand your specific neuroendocrine imbalances, which can be corrected with natural supplements, diet and lifestyle interventions, and BHRT.

Testing for and treating imbalanced neurotransmitter function can have the benefit of feeling more energetic, inspired, motivated, ability to manage craving and control addiction and dependency, be less sensitive to pain, maintain good mental focus and have a healthier sex life.

Below is an overview of six important neurotransmitters and how they affect your health.

SEROTONIN imbalance is one of the most common contributors to mood-related problems, and pharmacologic agents that alter serotonin levels are among the most commonly used class of drugs prescribed for anxiety and depression. When serotonin is out of balance, depression, anxiety, worry, obsessive thoughts and behaviors, PMS and sleep cycle disturbances can result. Serotonin regulates many processes connected to other health issues such as carbohydrate cravings, pain tolerance, and appropriate digestion. High stress, insufficient nutrients, fluctuating hormones and the use of stimulant medications or caffeine can all contribute to the depletion of serotonin over time.

GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter found in the CNS and, as such, is important for balancing excitatory action of other neurotransmitters. High levels of GABA may be a result of excitatory overload, or a compensatory mechanism to balance the surplus excitatory neurotransmitter activity. These high levels result in a ‘calming’ action that may contribute to sluggish energy, feelings of sedation, and foggy thinking. Low GABA levels are associated with dysregulation of the adrenal stress response. Without the inhibiting function of GABA, impulsive behaviors are often poorly controlled, contributing to a range of anxious and/or reactive symptoms that extend from poor impulse control to seizure disorders. Alcohol as well as benzodiazepine drugs act on GABA receptors and imitate the effects of GABA. Though these substances don’t cause an increase in GABA levels, understanding their mechanism can give us additional insight into the effects of GABA.

DOPAMINE is referred to as the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter because it is responsible for motivation, drive and positive feeling associated with activities such as being in love, exercising, listening to music, having g sex. Memory issues are common with both elevations and depressions in dopamine levels. Caffeine and other stimulants, such as medications for ADD/ADHD, often improve focus by increasing dopamine release, although continual stimulation of this release can deplete dopamine over time.

Common symptoms associated with low dopamine levels include loss of motor control, cravings, compulsions, loss of satisfaction and addictive behaviors including: drug and alcohol use, smoking cigarettes, gambling, and overeating. These actions often result from an unconscious attempt to self-medicate, looking for the satisfaction that is not occurring naturally in the body.

Elevated dopamine levels may contribute to hyperactivity or anxiety and have been observed in patients with schizophrenia. High dopamine may also be related to autism, mood swings, psychosis and attention disorders. L-DOPA is a precursor to dopamine, and is used therapeutically for low dopamine conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. These medications can cause elevations in dopamine.

NOREPINEPHRINE, also called noradrenaline, is an excitatory neurotransmitter produced in the CNS, as well as a stress hormone produced in the adrenal medulla. Norepinephrine is involved in a wide variety of actions including attention, focus, regulating heart rate, affecting blood flow, and suppressing inflammation. Involved in arousal, it prepares the body for action by relaying messages in the sympathetic nervous system as part of the autonomic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response. High levels of norepinephrine are often linked to anxiety, stress, elevated blood pressure, and hyperactivity, whereas low levels are associated with lack of energy, focus, and motivation.

EPINEPHRINE, often better known as adrenaline, is synthesized from norepinephrine in both the CNS and the adrenal medulla. Much like norepinephrine, this excitatory neurotransmitter helps regulate muscle contraction, heart rate, glycogen breakdown, blood pressure and more, and is heavily involved in a stress response. Elevated levels of epinephrine are often associated with hyperactivity, ADHD, anxiety, sleep issues, and low adrenal function. Over time, chronic stress and stimulation can deplete epinephrine stores leading to difficulty concentrating, fatigue, depression, insufficient cortisol production, chronic stress, poor recovery from illness, dizziness and more.

GLUTAMATE is an excitatory neurotransmitter and is considered to be the most abundant neurotransmitter in the nervous system. Glutamate is involved in most aspects of normal brain function including cognition, memory and learning, although high levels of glutamate can cause excitotoxicity, a process where nerve cells are damaged by excessive stimulation. Elevated glutamate levels are commonly associated with panic attacks, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, OCD and depression, whereas low glutamate levels may result in agitation, memory loss, sleeplessness, low energy levels and depression.

It is important to understand that there are agonistic/antagonistic interrelationships of the neurotransmitters with adrenal hormones and sex hormones. Changes in sex hormones and adrenal hormones can lead to neurotransmitter imbalances. And at the same time, neurotransmitter imbalances will affect hormone production and function. Testing both neurotransmitters and hormones provides a comprehensive view of the body’s functional neuroendocrine status, and brings to light additional factors that may be contributing to symptoms.

For more information or to set up an appointment for neurotransmitter and hormone testing either call or book online.

Information about neurotransmitters taken from our specialty laboratory partner, Labrix.

Stress and Fatigue Testing

Many people stumble out of bed in the morning and begin running all day with kids, work, sports practices, dinner, errands and housework. Constantly burning the candle at both ends leaves you exhausted. Weekends used to be a time to relax and unwind, but many people now find the weekends to be equally as busy. Sadly, this is “normal” for many Americans.

Stress and Fatigue TestingOver 500,000 Americans suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and millions more suffer from severe exhaustion and/or adrenal dysfunction. If you find yourself relying on coffee, sugar or other stimulants to get you going in the morning, you may be experiencing adrenal dysfunction. This feeling is often accompanied by one or more of the following:
  • Morning fatigue/noticeable fatigue any time of day
  • Craving salty or fatty foods
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased irritability
  • Decreased tolerance for stress
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Headaches and migraines

The cells in the body are constantly breaking down and then repairing. Much of this repair occurs during deep sleep; sleep deprivation (often caused by, or alongside stress) can age a body very quickly by interfering with this repair process.

Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones, including cortisol, from your adrenal glands. Cortisol is an important mediator of the stress response and is also important for regulating blood sugar, electrolyte balance and hormone balance.

Our bodies are designed to respond to a stressful event, and then return to a baseline state. When stressful events occur back to back, or stressful triggers last (as in chronic stress), the stress response can become down-regulated and our bodies eventually reduce the amount of cortisol produced. Though too much cortisol can cause damage to your body, too little cortisol is also a problem. Cortisol levels should naturally be highest in the morning hours, and taper gradually through the day.

Stress and Fatigue Testing

In addition to cortisol, your body uses neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine and epinephrine, to manage and respond to stress. Like hormones, neurotransmitters are chemical messengers made and used in the body that help to regulate mood, cognition, stress and more. When neurotransmitters are imbalanced, stress may feel heightened and symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety and irritability may be present.

It is difficult to know what your cortisol levels and neurotransmitter levels are based on symptoms alone; therefore, it is important to test to determine an optimal treatment plan. Salivary testing is the only way to accurately measure the pattern of cortisol release throughout the day. Saliva testing also allows measurement of the fraction of the hormone that your body can use, and is convenient and painless. Because the endocrine system is complex, issues that arise rarely stem from just one hormone. If there is a disruption in the balance of hormone produced by one gland, it can cause imbalance in other hormones as well.

The Comprehensive Hormone Panel is an excellent starting place for evaluating hormone function. This panel tests both reproductive (sex) and adrenal hormones, because symptoms of imbalance may overlap. Our Comprehensive Hormone Panel provided by Labrix will assess: estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol at four points during the day.

After we receive your results we will work with you to tailor a plan that includes diet, lifestyle, supplements and hormones to bring you back in to balance so you can feel great again.

If you would like more information or would like to schedule hormone testing, please contact our office or book online.

This information is courtesy of our specialty laboratory partner, Labrix.