Functional testing is an important part of the jigsaw when working to achieve optimum health through nutritional therapy

Why test?

Using functional tests from leading private providers can provide deeper insight into how your body is functioning, and why you are experiencing the symptoms you are.

Though I am pretty intuitive when it comes to what is going on with your body, there are often lots of different underlying factors that can lead to the same symptoms. So if you really want to understand which factors are contributing to your food reactivity or histamine intolerance, or triggering your autoimmunity, then testing can help answer those questions quickly and accurately.

We can then come up with a plan to address whatever imbalances I have identified with diet, lifestyle and dietary supplements. The information the tests provides means that we can address the real contributors more quickly – helping you get results faster.

I will always explain why I think a test will be useful, along with the cost implication and what it would entail. The decision on whether or not to go ahead is always yours.

Can I ask my doctor for the test?

If the test is available via the NHS, then you are welcome to ask your GP or hospital team if they will carry it out on your behalf. However, it is worth being aware that many of the tests which are most helpful are not available on the NHS, and private tests are often more comprehensive than those that your GP can offer.

How does it work?

Tests typically involve providing one or more samples of breath, saliva, blood, urine or stool. I will order the tests on your behalf, and the kits will be sent directly through to your home address. You will then need to follow the instructions provided, and return the sample to the lab as directed.

Many tests can be done simply, at home (bringing the added benefit that you don’t have to wait for an appointment). Blood tests may involve travelling to a clinic where blood can be taken, though mobile services that visit your home are also available.

Once I have received the results back and reviewed these, we will discuss the outcome and the next step in our next consultation.

Things I may advise testing for include:

Digestive function & analysis of gut bacteria

Nutrient status

Full blood count

Nutrigenomics (genetics)

Hormones (stress, thyroid or reproductive hormones)

Food intolerance or sensitivity

Infections (e.g. viruses or parasites)

Intestinal permeability

Metabolic markers

Toxins (e.g. chemicals, metals or mould)

Immune markers or autoimmune reactivity

Histamine and diamine oxidase

How much will it cost?

Costs vary according to which tests you need, often ranging between around £150 to £600, each. Though this may seem expensive to those of us in the UK who are not used to paying for our healthcare, it is important to understand that these tests require expert laboratory analysis, and often look at a wide range of different markers within one test.

If you are working with me on a consultation only basis, the cost of each test and its interpretation will be invoiced separately.

How do you choose which tests are relevant?

I will often choose a test based on the symptoms you are presenting with - for example if you feel that you are reacting to histamine it can be helpful to know your B12 and folate status and your vitamin D levels. This would require a blood test. If you have digestive symptoms as well this could indicate that you have some gut inflammation that could be contributing to histamine intolerance, and here a stool test would be useful. Nutrigenomics testing can also be a very powerful tool as there are various genetic variants that can contribute to a reduced innate ability to process histamine - and knowing what genes are potentially at play for you can help make my advice even more personalised.

Often no one test is perfect, but I will do my best to choose the most cost-effective option from a range of respected providers, and will choose CQC certified labs where possible. For nutrigenomic testing, I recommend Lifecode Gx®, as they offer a range of specialist, highly researched, nutrigenomics DNA test panels focusing only on genes that can be modified through diet and lifestyle approaches. Their unique colour-coded pathway diagrams provide easy to digest visual summaries, alongside in-depth insights into the risks or protective potential of each genotype. Genotype results are presented in the context of nutrition and other environmental factors, such as sleep, stress, physical activity and chemicals, that can influence them. This enables a deeper and holistic understanding of results and identification of the lifestyle changes that will be most effective.