The limitations of GIT mapping tests.

by Robyn Cogger
3 minutes
The limitations of GIT mapping tests.

In my last post, I wrote about the different types of gastro-intestinal testing available. In this post, I'll provide some more insights into how the test results can be interpreted.

When you get a GI map done, you will see some evaluations on your microbiome as good or bad, high or low score, and solutions for dealing with the “poor” result. Sometimes you’ll be left with the impression your gut is healthy and yet you're struggling with chronic conditions you instinctually know are connected to your gut.

So, here are some considerations when I am evaluating the quality of the test report. These tests do provide great insights about gut health, but knowing their limitations is useful.

What markers are being measured for good and bad gut health?

What is known about a healthy gut is limited to a few markers only, listed below. There is still so much not known and many many species’ function are unknown currently. 

1.The degree of diversity of species. The higher the variety of species in a gut, the healthier a person. Only the Metagenomics tests can give give an accurate diversity count, because its counting down to species level and species abundance. Also consider the degree of diversity changes through life stages. A child’s microbiome is much less diverse than an adult microbiome. This does not mean it’s less healthy.

2. The integrity of the gut lining. A number of markers may or may not be included in the test. Such as IgA secretion, calprotection levels and zonulin factor. These markers that indicate how leaky, inflamed a gut lining is. Some tests won’t include these and yet give a health score.

3. The composition of metabolites being produced. Every single species have specific functions. Some are beneficial such as making nutrients, playing a role in immune function and supplying compounds for hormones. Some are harmful and produce inflammatory or toxic metabolites. Some do both at the same time. Some are still yet unknown what their purpose is. Some tests will measure these in terms of high or low production and give a functionality score. Keep in mind only metagenomic tests can do this with significant accuracy.

How are the markers being rated as good and bad?

The scores given are based on a comparison to a healthy control group the lab company has established as having healthy microbiomes. The limitations of comparing to a control group based on these markers stated above, don’t consider other factors influencing the microbiome. There are many, but most relevant are:

  1. The report may evaluate your gut as healthy compared to the control group.  But you may still have something pathogenic such a Clostridia difficile or Cyanobacteria (green blue algae) that are associated with disease outcomes.
  2. Children’s biomes are very different to adult biomes. To date, most studies about gut health have bene about adult biomes. Currently what is a healthy child’s biome is not established. 
  3. Current GIT mapping captures only the biome of the lower intestinal area. It doesn’t reliably indicate what is in the upper intestine or stomach or oral biome. So, it’s not possible yet to detect how these areas might be contributing good or poor health. 

Feel free to book in a free Q&A to learn more about how GIT testing can help you understand your health.

Photo of Robyn Cogger from Arising Health

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