Functional Medicine & Wellness

Important Gut Health Markers: Part II

Picking up where we left off in our previous blog about gut health markers, there are two other important variables to test. For the sake of being proactive, efficient and accurate, we consistently test our patients for stool calprotectin and zonulin. You likely haven’t heard of these gut health markers, but they happen to be very important to preventing and/or determining the causes of IBS-type symptoms.

Let’s start by talking about stool calprotectin. This is a marker of severe inflammation taking place in the gut. It can point us in the right direction of a diagnosis that includes:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – A common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea and/or constipation. It is a chronic condition that needs to be managed long-term. Some people can control their symptoms by managing their diet, exercise and stress while others will need medication. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – A term used to describe disorders that involve chronic inflammation of your digestive tract. This can include things like Crohn’s, Colitis, Celiac, or even cancer. 

When a patient’s stool calprotectin levels are elevated, it means their colon cell is being destroyed internally. This is no laughing matter and requires significant follow up. The next step will involve making an appointment with a G.I. specialist and getting a colonoscopy. We strongly advise that someone with high levels of stool calprotectin take it seriously and get things checked out to make sure everything is okay.

Zonulin: The Sign Of An Impaired Intestinal Barrier

If your stool calprotectin numbers come back within normal range, one of the other gut health markers we look at is called zonulin. The stool zonulin is a hyperpermeability marker that helps to determine what’s happening between the intestinal cells. 

When these cells get stretched or broken, zonulin levels in the stool become elevated as a result of extra protein being released. For this reason, increased amounts of zonulin typically signify that someone is dealing with G.I. Hyperpermeability – better known as “leaky gut” syndrome. 

No human being completely digests gluten and it can be a strong trigger of zonulin in some individuals. 

Source: npr.org

G.I. Hyperpermeability means the gut lining is damaged, causing it to fail at its job of acting as a barrier. The smaller holes become larger and allow anything to leak through including harmful substances such as:

  • Endotoxins
  • Viruses
  • Bacterias
  • Undigested Food Particles

 

These things can begin to affect our immune system and significant, long-term health damage can occur. Now you can see why we make the extra effort to utilize gut health markers like calprotectin, zonulin along with pancreatic elastase and steatocrit levels mentioned in our previous post. These information and inflammation proteins are all different, but equally important to measure and understand. 

When it comes to IBS, IBD and overall gut health, we have the knowledge and resources to address any issues you may be experiencing. Give us a call so we can put a stop to all the BS surrounding IBS-related symptoms. 

In the meantime, you are welcome to follow us on Instagram or Facebook {omniahealthcolorado} or join our newsletter to learn more about what functional medicine and wellness can do to improve your quality of life.

 

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