Why Incorporating Gut, Thyroid, & Micronutrient Testing into Your Yearly Wellness Exam is a Must

by 
Dr. Shawn Greenan
Why Incorporating Gut, Thyroid, & Micronutrient Testing into Your Yearly Wellness Exam is a Must

As an integrative medicine provider, you are a master detective at diagnosing root cause illness. You are the go-to practitioner when patients have no clear diagnosis and nowhere else to turn. Most of our patients come to us after they have exhausted all other options. But what if we could prevent these diseases from happening altogether?

What if we had a way to show patients exactly what is brewing so we can quickly nip it in the bud and prevent it from happening altogether. This isn’t just wishful thinking; this is where preventative yearly wellness exams come into play. Offering gut, thyroid, and micronutrient testing annually can give you and your patients an excellent overview of how their body is currently performing. Let’s break it down.

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A Functional Medicine Approach to Gut Health Screening

We all know health starts in the gut. The entire digestive system works together to turn the food you eat into energy. The small intestine absorbs more than 95 % of the nutrients the body needs (such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates). What’s left moves on to the large intestine. (1)

Gut bacteria manufactures about 90% of the body’s supply of serotonin and 50% of dopamine, which influences both mood and GI activity. These chemicals play a significant role in anxiety and depression. (2) (3)

Now imagine a patient with a sluggish, inflamed GI tract. The surface area responsible for absorbing so many vital nutrients is slowly becoming inflamed to the point that it can’t do its job. The body starts attacking foods to help with the inflammation, but this causes more long-term damage, eventually leading to a leaky gut. Gut bacteria are now becoming unbalanced and no longer able to produce high amounts of those happy chemicals serotonin and dopamine. Maybe the patient doesn’t feel the effects yet, but a continuous inflammatory diet and lifestyle are destined to catch up to them. This is where preventative comprehensive stool screenings are needed. Being able to show your patients what is going on before disease progresses is key to preventive medicine.

Gut health screenings are an excellent option for first-line testing because they look at digestion, absorption, dysbiosis (unbalanced gut bacteria), inflammation, and indicators of autoimmune disease. These tests also give insight into possible other underlying medical conditions and recommend additional testing that may be needed.

Top 3 Comprehensive Gut Health Test Ordered by Rupa Health Practitioners

A Functional Medicine Approach to Thyroid Screening

The thyroid gland produces the exact number of hormones needed to keep your body’s metabolic, heart, muscle, digestive function, and brain development running smoothly in a healthy individual.  But when your thyroid makes too much or too little of these hormones, it turns into thyroid disease and causes a whole list of ongoing medical issues.

On a worldwide scale, approximately 200 million people have some form of thyroid disease. (4)

Patients at the highest risk of developing a thyroid disease (5)

  • Women (8x’s more likely to be diagnosed with a thyroid condition than a man)
  • Family history of thyroid disease
  • Underlying medical conditions
  • Taking a medication that’s high in iodine (amiodarone)
  • Older than 60
  • Have had treatment for a past thyroid condition or cancer (thyroidectomy or radiation)
  • Micronutrient malnourished

Most patients will have their thyroid checked annually during their primary care visit. But many doctors only check TSH levels, which only gives a small piece of the picture and can miss out on roughly 7% of individuals with thyroid dysfunction. Functional medicine practitioners typically assess thyroid health by ordering TSH, Free T4, Free T3, and Reverse T3.

By checking functional reference ranges, you can quickly get an idea of whether problems are arising in the production of thyroid hormone, the conversion of thyroid hormone, or a combination of both.

If any of these blood tests values are not within optimal range, starting your patients on a supplement and nutritional program immediately can help prevent future thyroid dysfunction or disease.

Top 3 Complete Thyroid Panels Ordered Through Rupa Health

A Functional Medicine Approach to Essential Nutrients Screening

Micronutrients are part of nearly every process in your body. Absorbing less than optimal amounts of essential vitamins and minerals can contribute to a number of major illnesses.

Research shows that, even in high-income countries, nutrient intakes fail to meet the requirements for many people. (6)

The initial stages of marginal nutrient deficiency are often overlooked. Patients may remain asymptomatic for a long time or present with generalized signs and symptoms.

Over time, micronutrient-related malnutrition can wreak havoc on the body, causing disorders like thyroid dysfunction, anxiety, irregular heartbeats, neurological disorders, and low immune function.

Highest Risk Groups of Micronutrient-Related Malnutrition: (6)

  • Patients following the Standard American Diet
  • Children
  • Pregnant or Lactating Women
  • Older Patients
  • Patients on medications that block stomach acid

Testing for micronutrients yearly can help you and your patients stay on top of their health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Top 3 Complete Micronutrient Panels Ordered Through Rupa Health

Summary

While we don’t always get access to patients before they are sick, it’s important to help current, and future patients recognize the need for preventative measures. These three tests will give you a generalized overview of what could be quietly brewing and allow you to tackle the issue before it becomes a chronic issue.

Bundles & Re-orders

Once you are ready to add these tests to your annual exams, you can bundle them for easy sharing and set patients up for a yearly re-order for future assessments.

Featured Bundles

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References

(1) Bradford, A. (2018, October 16). How the Small Intestine Works. Retrieved from Live Science: https://www.livescience.com/52048-small-intestine.html

(2) Carpenter, D. S. (2012, September). That Gut Feeling. Retrieved from American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/09/gut-feeling

(3) Xue, R., Zhang, H., Pan, J., Du, Z., Zhou, W., Zhang, Z., . . . Bai, L. (2018, October 17). Peripheral Dopamine Controlled by Gut Microbes Inhibits Invariant Natural Killer T Cell-Mediated Hepatitis. Retrieved from Frontiers in Immunology: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2018.02398/full

(4) General Information/Press Room. (n.d.). Retrieved from American Thyroid Association: https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/press-room/

(5) Thyroid Disease. (2020, 04 19). Retrieved from Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8541-thyroid-disease

(6) Bruins, M. J., Bird, J. K., Aebischer, C. P., & Eggersdorfer, M. (2018, January 5). Considerations for Secondary Prevention of Nutritional Deficiencies in High-Risk Groups in High-Income Countries. Retrieved from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793275/

Bowers, K. S., Francis, E., & Kraschnewski, J. L. (2018, December). The dual burden of malnutrition in the United States and the role of non-profit organizations. Retrieved from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6214863/

Dr. Shawn Greenan
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