“All disease begins in the gut.”
In this article we will cover:
- How disease begins in the gut and why.
- Common digestive symptoms that wreck your health.
- Health problems caused by gut inflammation, microbiome imbalance, & overlooked digestive infections.
- The best lab test for gut health and to check for pathogenic bacteria, parasites, fungi/yeast, viruses, and worms.
- How to find out if your immune system is winning or losing the battle against chronic gut infections.
- Digestive Function & Detoxification
- Do people really have chronic gut infections like bacteria, fungi/yeast, viruses, parasites, and worms?
- Next steps to heal your digestion, immune system, and related symptoms.
Is it true that all disease begins in the gut?
Gut health and digestion are essential foundations for wellness and resilience. How we digest, absorb, and use our food determines nutrients and cellular building blocks available for metabolism and overall health. In addition to the nutritional importance, gut health regulates immunity and inflammation.
70-90% of our immune system is located in our gut, ready to handle any incoming intruders. When we create the conditions for healthy digestion, we create a healthy immune system – one where our immune cells work smarter and keep inflammation in check.
The immune tone we set in the gut is transmitted through circulation, the lymph system, and the nervous system to cells, tissues, and organs throughout the body. We even have specialized cells in our gut called neuropods that instantly signal the brain and transmit gut inflammation.
Chronic inflammatory illnesses have many factors. The reason why so many diseases begin in the gut is because nutrient deficiencies, inflammation, and chronic infections are the most common underlying causes of chronic inflammatory illnesses such as anxiety, depression, memory problems, brain fog, fatigue, insomnia, autoimmunity, hormone problems, and pain syndromes.
- Heartburn & Acid Reflux (GERD)
- Food Sensitivities
- Abdominal Discomfort or Pain
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Health Problems Caused By Gut Inflammation, Microbiome Imbalance, & Overlooked Digestive Infections
- Food Cravings
- Nutrient Deficiencies
- Poor Immunity
- Inflammation & Autoimmunity
- Blood Sugar Imbalances
- Weight Gain & Obesity
- Hormone Imbalance
- Brain Inflammation & Neurotransmitter Imbalance
What’s the best lab test for gut health and to check for pathogenic bacteria, parasites, fungi/yeast, viruses, and worms?
One of the most common questions I get is what’s the best lab to test the gut and get some answers. Drum roll, please!
It’s no secret, that I’m a big fan of the GI Map by Diagnostic Solutions.
The GI Map uses Quantitative DNA/PCR Testing. This means that you only have to collect 1 sample (instead of 3 like other tests) and it measures the DNA threshold of each pathogen instead of relying on culture and microscopy (growing bacteria in a petri dish or looking for it under a microscope).
The GI Map screens for:
- Microbiome Health (The bugs you want.)
- Pathogenic Bacteria, Yeast, Parasites, Viruses, and Worms (The bugs you don’t want.)
- Antibiotic Resistance Genes
- H. pylori & Virulence Factors
- Metabolic, Immune, and Digestive Markers
I use this test with every patient I partner with and I consider it a must for:
- Digestive Problems
- Mood Disorders
- Brain Fog & Neurological Symptoms
- Health Optimization
For a sample report of the GI Map, click here.
Intestinal IgA: Is your immune system winning or losing the battle against chronic gut infections?
When someone has a chronic infection in their gut like pathogenic bacteria, parasites, fungi/yeast, viruses, or worms – the first thing I look at is the state of their immune system.
The intestinal IgA tells us if your immune system is winning or losing the battle and if you’re ready to handle an antimicrobial treatment to eliminate pathogens.
If immunity is low, going straight to an antimicrobial treatment is not going to be effective. First we have to support your immune system so that your immune cells are ready to go to battle and eliminate the pathogen.
Digestive Function & Detoxification
The next thing I check is the digestive function to see how the pancreas (digestive enzymes), liver, and gallbladder are functioning. There might be a need for digestive enzymes or gallbladder support, but the most important marker here is Beta-glucuronidase.
Beta-glucuronidase is an enzyme involved in detoxification of drugs, toxins, and hormones. If this enzyme is high, it means your liver is having a hard time taking out the trash and detoxifying the colon. This can happen due to dysbiosis (microbiome imbalance) or infection in the small or large intestine, hormone imbalance, and toxic burden
If Beta-glucuronidase is high the liver and detox pathways must be supported and cleared before any antimicrobial treatment to eliminate pathogens in order to avoid further overloading the detox pathways and causing a die off reaction such as headaches or fatigue.
Do people really have chronic gut infections like bacteria, fungi/yeast, viruses, parasites, and worms?
Yes. It’s a common myth that people only have pathogenic bacteria, fungi/yeast, viruses, parasites, or worms if they have had traveler’s diarrhea or food poisoning. Most people have experienced some kind of digestive distress or gastroenteritis (short term digestive infection) in their life. Sometimes what starts as a limited, short duration infection can become a chronic colonization or alter the microbiome in a way that makes it susceptible to opportunistic infections. Frequent antibiotic use also contributes to alterations of a healthy microbiome which invite pathogenic bacteria or overgrowth of normal bacteria to unhealthy levels.
Digestive infections in the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine are the most common type of chronic infection that alters immunity and triggers chronic symptoms.
Chronic infections are a common trigger for poor immunity, inflammation, and chronic symptoms including autoimmunity, anxiety, depression, brain fog, and neurological problems.
The most common type of infection is in the digestive organs, because we eat 2-3 times per day, our food comes from all over the world, we don’t always have control of how our food is prepared, and many people have digestive dysfunction and poor immunity which allow pathogens to survive.
Many people ask me about SIBO and Candida, because these infections became very popular in the functional medicine world before we had tests like the GI Map that could tell us exactly what pathogens are the problem.
In my experience it is NEVER just SIBO or Candida and trying to eliminate either of them without addressing the whole digestive system is difficult and ineffective. In my clinical practice, I create a personalized plan for each of my patients specific to their test results, health concerns, and goals.
In general, I usually approach gut infections in this order:
*Keep in mind, all treatments must be individualized for each patient and their unique case. Some treatment strategies listed here will be addressed simultaneously or in a different order, depending on what is the best plan for the patient.
- Send in the probiotic troops to take control from pathogenic bacteria and improve immune function.
- Address stomach problems and digestive sequencing such as H. pylori infection or low stomach acid.
- Eliminate parasites and worms. Parasites and worms can harbor heavy metals and bacteria. Eliminating them with antimicrobial herbs will help remove other infections like fungi and yeast as well as toxic burden.
- Eliminate bacteria and fungi/yeast in the small or large intestine.
- Heal damaged digestive integrity.
What are the next steps to heal my digestion, immune system, and related symptoms?
1) Learn more about what you can do at home to improve nutrition and gut health with these articles:
- The Step By Step Guide To Your Personalized Nutrition Plan
- Healing Leaky Gut For Optimal Immune Function & Health
2) Order my favorite probiotic, here. Use code thrivingforce for a 15% savings. Bacillus Indicus HU36® is a spore based probiotic that survives the digestion, provides antioxidants in the digestive system, and is clinically proven to improve leaky gut.
3) Work with a holistic root cause doctor who will listen to your story, investigate your case, order the right lab tests, create a personalized plan, and partner with you to get it done.
*Please note that this article is not sponsored by the lab and is provided for education only. Only licensed healthcare providers may order the GI Map through Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory. I recommend you use this test under the care of a trained practitioner.
How To Work With Me & Get Your GI Map Test
If this approach feels good to you, I’m currently accepting new patients in my 9 month health transformation program called The Limitless Holistic Health Transformation. Click the link to get the details and send in your application. From there we’ll set up a time to connect by phone and make sure it’s the right solution for you.
This test has been a game changer for my patients, because so many inflammatory symptoms are caused by overlooked digestive distress and infections that are often missed by other stool tests.
Dr. DeFrancesco partners with patients seeking a smarter & sustainable approach to health by doing the detective work to uncover root cause(s) and design a personalized and comprehensive plan that includes nutrition, lifestyle, functional medicine, and root cause therapies.
This approach benefits people who are seeking help with chronic inflammatory conditions, autoimmunity, thyroid conditions, digestive problems, brain health, and health optimization.