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© Lauri M. Aesoph ND

One to three stool samples are required to check for parasites. The cost varies from $55.00 to over $200.00 depending on many samples are submitted and whether other analyses are made. Parasite results are available within one week.

Nutrient Function Test
Numerous studies have confirmed the relationship between nutrient deficiencies and disease. For instance low zinc levels may play a role in diabetes (1) and insufficient body reserves of vitamin E can increase your risk of angina (2). Laboratory tests designed to find vitamin and mineral deficiencies are essential to prevent or delay nutritionally-related ailments.

"The typical serum test looks for the amount of nutrients in your blood," says Cyrene Vacanti, Marketing Manager of SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. in Houston, Texas. "We use a test called the Essential Metabolics Analysis (EMA) to measure how well nutrients work in the cells. That's what matters, not vitamin and mineral blood levels."

The EMA test begins with a blood collection. At SpectaCell's lab, white blood cells called lymphocytes are removed from the blood sample and grown in a series of special dishes whose contents varies depending on which nutrient is being tested. An assortment of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids can be tested for. "Normal results (available within two weeks) are different for each nutrient," explains Vacanti. Cost ranges from $70 to $465 depending on how many nutrients are tested.

Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis
Good nutrition is vital for good health. However, a great diet is useless if your body can't digest, absorb or utilize the food you eat. First developed by Meridian Labs, the Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) employs a series of tests to evaluate digestion.

Meat and vegetable fibers are measured in your stool as are fats to gauge absorption. Lab technicians look for blood and mucus in your stool (both should be absent), and record stool color. Stomach acid is measured along with enzyme levels and bile. Even a predisposition to colon cancer can be detected.

The healthy intestine houses over 400 bacteria and other bugs. A simple stool sample reveals what and how many yeast, bacteria and parasites live inside you, and whether this population coexists in a healthy balance. An abnormally high ratio of pathogenic bacteria and other microbes creates an unhealthy state called dysbiosis.

A CDSA is certainly warranted if you suffer from chronic diarrhea, indigestion or other gastric complaints, or if you spot undigested food in your stools. However, poor intestinal health doesn't stop with indigestion. The CDSA provides helpful information for a variety of health concerns ranging from asthma to arthritis. Also offered by Great Smokies and other labs, a CDSA panel takes one week to complete and costs around $300.

Intestinal Permeability Test
"The Intestinal Permeability test is performed when a doctor suspects the small intestine has problems, but there are no or few gut symptoms," says Lukaczer. Often performed along side the CDSA, this $85.00 test evaluates how permeable or "leaky" your small intestine is.

A healthy small intestine permits mostly small fully-digested food particles to pass into general circulation, while excluding large partially digested food molecules, chemicals and other toxic compounds. A damaged or sick intestine can turn sieve-like, also to as "leaky gut syndrome".

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