Functional Stool Testing: An In-Depth Look at the GI-MAP Test

thrive by food GI-MAP test

 

Being a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner, I practice from the “test, don’t guess” model. It’s the fastest way to cut to the chase, identify the root causes of even the most complex health issues, and pinpoint real healing opportunities. To effectively address complex or unexplained digestive health concerns, we first need to know what is actually causing the outward symptoms and why it’s happening – and this can be done using the GI-MAP test.

 

Are your digestive issues due to a parasite infection? A bacteria or yeast overgrowth? Inflammation? Gluten intolerance? Low beneficial bacteria levels? 

 

The primary test I run with just about every client who works with me, including those who are in my signature Love Your Gut Group Program, is the GI-MAP. I’ve been running lab tests on myself for 5+ years, and on my clients for many of those years, and this is far and away the most comprehensive of them all. It’s now the only stool test I turn to when clients come to me with digestive health complaints.

 

If functional lab testing is new to you, or you have never run the GI-MAP test before and are curious about what it could find for you, I recently did a Facebook Live video, which I’ve embedded below for you, so you can learn more about how the test works, how easy it is to run, and all the data it finds. 

 

One of the biggest questions I get from clients, which I’ll address up front is, “What if it comes back with nothing?” It’s a great question, and I tell them that I have never seen a “clean” GI-MAP – something always comes up, and it usually maps up pretty darn close to how the client is feeling! With over 4 pages of detailed results, we can see if there is an imbalance in good bacteria, infections from bad bacteria, parasites, yeast, fungi, or viruses, inflammation, immune suppression, or sensitivity t0 gluten.

 

It’s a test so rich in data that anyone can benefit from it – even the healthiest of people!

 

(Fun fact: I had my husband recently run it and he’s an extremely healthy person with no digestive health issues and we even found some opportunities to work on things for him! It’s a great thing to be proactive about this). 

 

 

What is the GI-MAP Test?

The GI-MAP (or Gastrointestinal Microbial Assay Plus) assesses the microbiome from a single stool sample, with particular attention to microbes that may be disturbing normal microbial balance and may contribute to gastrointestinal flora imbalances or illness. The test analyzes levels of beneficial bacteria, levels of pathogenic bacteria, parasites, viruses, worms, and fungi, as well as immune and digestive markers. Together, this gives us a complete view of the gastrointestinal microbiome.

 

What Does the GI-MAP Test For?

The GI-MAP is designed to measure:

  • Pathogenic organisms that can cause hospital-acquired infections such as C. difficile or norovirus
  • Foodborne illness such as E.coli or Salmonella
  • Common causes of diarrhea such as Campylobacter, Shigella, and rotavirus A.5
  • Viral causes of gastroenteritis
  • Parasites such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and Entamoeba histolytica
  • Helicobacter pylori and its virulence factors
  • Opportunistic pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Proteus mirabilus, associated with autoimmune molecular mimicry
  • A panel of single-celled, amebic parasites such as Blastocystis hominis, Dientamoeba fragilis, and Entamoeba coli
  • Fungal organisms such as Candida, Geotrichum, and Microsporidia
  • Standard markers of immunity, inflammation and digestion including calprotectin, secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA), anti-gliadin antibody, and pancreatic elastase

 

Because it’s such a comprehensive analysis, even the healthiest of people can benefit from running it, as it offers numerous opportunities to optimize digestive health and full-body health. Oftentimes I recommend that entire families run it together, as many of these pathogens can be passed among families or significant others and by addressing them together, the entire family can feel better and be proactive about their long-term health. 

 

The GI-MAP Test: How Does It Do It’s Magic?

Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory who developed the GI-MAP uses a cutting-edge DNA technique to detect a comprehensive list of stool bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. To get scientific, it uses quantitative PCR (qPCR) detection, which is one of the most powerful and sensitive gene analysis techniques available today. This actually quantifies gene expression, analyzes single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), determines genotypes, and detects pathogens. In this way, they can detect a much larger variety of pathogens in the stool than any other test.

 

Not only that, it also gives us quantitative information about pathogens like Giardia, Clostridium difficile, Salmonella, and many more. Not all pathogens cause disease if they are present, so knowing exactly how much DNA is present can give us important information for better decision-making.

 

Because of the way the GI-MAP analyzes data, it can not only detect the “bad guys”, it can also detect beneficial bacteria. Knowing the quantity of each major bacteria (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, etc.) shows us how well your gut flora is surviving, if you’re supplementing with probiotics appropriately, and if your microbiome itself needs additional support if low numbers are reported.

 

It’s just as important to know what good bacteria are present as what bad pathogens are present, because without a healthy microbiome, you’ll always have pathogen problems.

 

Addressing both ends of the spectrum at once, which the GI-MAP test allows us to do, is the most comprehensive, strategic, and efficient way to help restore gut function. 

 

How is it Different From Other Stool Tests?

Good question! Other stool tests on the market primarily use what’s called Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-of-Flight (MALDI-TOF) to identify stool microbes. These rely on bacterial culture of the stool specimen, however culturing is very limited in its ability to actually detect a full-spectrum of pathogens. That’s because microbes in the stool specimen can grow or decay after collection and in transit, which can alter the results and may not represent the sample at the time of collection. Additionally, organisms like yeast that do not grow well under culture conditions cannot be identified at all. This leaves many question marks still unanswered, and misses an incredible opportunity to identify many causes of severe digestive health issues.  

 

The way in which DSL has designed the GI-MAP is such that it immediately “freezes” the DNA in the sample, so that it more closely represents the actual microbial populations of the patient’s gastrointestinal tract at the time of collection. This maximizes the amount of information we can find on this single stool test so that we can address and rebalance gut health completely and methodically. 

 

How the GI-MAP Test is Run

All it takes is one simple stool sample to get all of this incredible data. The GI-MAP test is a test which I ship directly to my clients’ homes to run in the privacy of their bathroom, not out at a lab. This is easier for a client to do, and more comfortable, too. As soon as you enroll in the Love Your Gut program or my one-on-one program, this lab kit is sent off to you so we can run it as early on as possible and test, not guess, so that you can be on the fast-track to better gut health. 

 

Take the GI-MAP Test and Address Your Gut Health Head-On

Excited for what the GI-MAP may be able to tell you that no other test or doctor has been able to tell you yet? Join the Love Your Gut group program where we run this test at the very beginning of the program, or request to work with me one-on-one to run this test plus others to get to the root of complex and previously undiscovered digestive health issues so you can move beyond the food fear and bathroom fear and feel better fast.