Life Extension Magazine®
Lab tech taking results from annual lab tests

Issue: May 2019

Ask The Doctor

Scott Fogle, ND, discusses the benefits of the Comprehensive Stool Analysis with Parasitology test being offered by Life Extension® during the Annual Lab Test Sale.

By Dr. Scott Fogle, ND, Physician.

Last year, Life Extension® changed the name of the Blood Test Super Sale to the Annual Lab Test Sale.

We made this change because we offer diagnostic tests that go beyond blood tests, including urine, saliva, allergy, and even DNA tests.

In this interview, Dr. Scott Fogle explains the benefits of an innovative new test being offered during this year’s Annual Lab Test Sale.

What you need to know

Life Extension® introduces a lab test to evaluate gut health. The Comprehensive Stool Analysis with Parasitology evaluates digestive and absorptive insufficiencies, inflammation, short-chain fatty acids, mucosal protective secretory IgA immunoglobulin, red blood cells, white blood cells, occult blood and acidity (pH).

LE: What new test is being offered this year, Dr. Fogle?

Dr. Fogle: This year we’re offering the Comprehensive Stool Analysis with Parasitology, a test that is growing in popularity with forward-thinking clinicians across the country. It provides actionable information and a deeper insight into a person’s gastrointestinal tract (GI).

LE: Does this have a connection to the growing trend of using prebiotics and probiotics for supporting GI health?

Dr. Fogle: Yes, but it’s important to note that prebiotics and probiotics are beneficial not just for good GI health, but for whole body and mind health. The area of probiotic science is exploding with new research every week, and there are even entire medical/scientific conferences on the topic. Each year we learn more that can help people with GI-related issues, as well as those with conditions that seem to be unrelated.

LE: Why is finding out about gut health so important?

Dr. Fogle: The health of your gut goes far beyond digestion. Around 400 B.C., Hippocrates was credited with saying,“Death sits in the bowels.” He also stated that, “Bad digestion is the root of all evil.” Modern research is bringing those ideas into the 21st century.

In 2011, Jeremy Nicholson, PhD, said that, “Almost every sort of disease has a gut bug connection.”

For example, research has connected imbalances in microflora of the gut not just to “leaky gut” but also to “leaky brain,” which occurs when the blood-brain barrier is not as tight and protective as it should be. Gut-health issues have also been tied to hypertension, vascular diseases, diabetes, autoimmunity, inflammation, asthma, eczema, depression, anxiety, fatigue, food sensitivities, and more.

Simply put, gut health is an important part of any program for optimal wellness.

Table 1

LE: We hear a lot about dysbiosis nowadays, which is a term indicating imbalances in your intestinal microbes. Does this new test provide information about it?

Dr. Fogle: Yes, this test can identify potential dysbiosis to see if there’s not enough good, healthy microflora compared to potentially harmful microflora.

The body needs to be in a balanced state. That concept applies not only to hormones and neurotransmitters, but to your gut microflora as well. If your gut is out of balance, you will not feel your best.

LE: Beyond looking at intestinal flora imbalances, what else can this test reveal?

Dr. Fogle: The Comprehensive Stool Analysis with Parasitology test looks at digestive and absorptive insufficiencies, inflammation, short-chain fatty acids, mucosal protective secretory IgA immunoglobulin, red blood cells, white blood cells, occult blood, and acidity (pH).

Table 2

LE: Why are short-chain fatty acids important?

Dr. Fogle: Few people know about these powerful compounds. The Comprehensive Stool Analysis with Parasitology test identifies the key short-chain fatty acids, which include acetate, propionate, valerate, and butyrate.

Currently, butyrate is thought to be the most important short-chain fatty acid. It acts as fuel for the cells lining your GI tract. It mediates microbial-host crosstalk, which means it gives your body instructions on how to keep your GI tract healthy. It regulates mucosal barrier integrity and function which, when lost, set the stage for leaky gut. It also mediates the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines.

All these important functions make short-chain fatty acids key compounds that should be measured periodically in order to maintain optimal bowel health. If the ratios of the different short-chain fatty acids are off, it is an indication that your intestinal microflora balance is off. And if your total short-chain fatty acid level is low, it points to probable dysbiosis.

LE: If someone has low short-chain fatty acid levels, what is the best thing that can help?

Dr. Fogle: Fiber! That is the fuel which good bacteria use to make short-chain fatty acids. A healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates can provide that fiber. If your diet does not have enough high-fiber foods, it is important to consider adding a prebiotic, which is a type of fiber that feeds good bacteria. I recommend a specialized prebiotic like xylooligosaccharides (XOS) to preferentially feed the good bacteria.

LE: How are these microbes cultured to make sure they are identified properly?

Dr. Fogle: Many labs only use 3 different growth conditions. But the lab we partner with uses advanced microbiology testing, which cultivates microbes using 10 different growth conditions. This includes 5 aerobic (including one with enrichment broth for enteric pathogens), 3 anaerobic (for Bifidobacteria, Lactobacilli, Bacteroides, Clostridium etc.), microaerophilic (for low oxygen microbes like Campylobacter), and finally, 170 species of yeast and 65 species of Candida. This advanced yeast and Candida testing is especially appreciated by those concerned about the impact yeast and Candida have on their health.

Image of intestinal cells

LE: Does this test check for parasites as well?

Dr. Fogle: Yes. Parasites are all around us, and some people are more susceptible to them than others. The Comprehensive Stool Analysis with Parasitology tests for the main 50 species of parasites, such as Blastocystis hominis, Entamoeba, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium.

LE: Does the test evaluate how well a person’s immune system is able to protect against bad gut bugs?

Dr. Fogle: The Comprehensive Stool Analysis with Parasitology tests levels of sIgA, which is an immunoglobulin that prevents pathogens from entering the body. It’s considered the body’s first line of defense.

The gut needs the most sIgA (secretory immunoglobulin A) because it is exposed to so many different viruses, bacteria, parasites, yeast, and fungus. That’s why about 80% of total body sIgA is in the GI tract. The sIgA binds to pathogenic invaders, trapping them in GI mucus so they can be excreted from the body. It also reduces the body’s inflammatory responses to pathogenic bacteria and allergens.

LE: What causes low levels of sIgA?

Dr. Fogle: Stress. Under chronic stress, sIgA decreases and is no longer around to act as a first line defense against pathogens. It is also unable to help control inflammatory responses in the bowel. This is one of the reasons why stress can contribute to GI issues.

LE: Does the test include markers specific to gut inflammation?

Dr. Fogle: Yes, it includes 3 markers that correlate to inflammation specific to the GI tract. The first is lysozyme, an inflammatory marker that can become very elevated in inflammatory bowel disease. Lysozyme may also be elevated in irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease. It is not specific enough to be a diagnostic marker, though it does provide helpful information.

Two additional markers, lactoferrin and calprotectin, are increased in inflammatory bowel disease but not in irritable bowel syndrome. They can help differentiate between inflammatory bowel disease (in which case all 3 markers are high), versus pathogen-induced inflammation (where just lysozyme would be high).

Table 3

LE: Why do older people seem to struggle with digestion?

Dr. Fogle: It is true that as we age digestion abilities diminish. The same thing happens when we are under stress. Digestion is a lot of work and consumes a lot of energy. As we age and when we are dealing with chronic stress, our bodies produce less energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). As a result, we lose digestive power, and it starts to show up in specific markers that can be measured. A similar idea applies to the complex digestive enzymes that come from the pancreas.

LE: What are the digestive markers on this test?

Dr. Fogle: The Comprehensive Stool Analysis with Parasitology test includes several markers of digestion. The first is elastase, which provides information about your pancreas’ ability to make the enzymes needed for good digestion.

The fat stain test reveals your ability to break down and absorb fat.

The presence of muscle fibers in the stool indicates incomplete digestion and can correlate with symptoms of bloating, flatulence, and feelings of fullness. It can also hint at poor hydrochloric acid and pepsin production in the stomach.

The presence of vegetable fibers in the stool may indicate a lack of proper chewing, which is an important part of digestion. Humans don’t make the cellulose enzymes, and in order to break up the cellulose fibers in plants we must rely on chewing food thoroughly.

High carbohydrates indicate a carbohydrate malabsorption issue since carbohydrates should be easily absorbed in the upper GI tract. If they are present, it indicates probable damage to the microvilli of the small intestine.

Table 4

LE: Are any other tests included?

Dr. Fogle: The Comprehensive Stool Analysis with Parasitology tests for the presence of red blood cells and occult blood in the stool, which can be connected to something as simple as hemorrhoids or as serious as cancer. Red blood cells in the stool often relate to active bleeding in the lower bowel, such as a hemorrhoid or overstraining during a bowel movement. Occult blood tends to be more of a serious issue as it indicates a problem higher up in the GI tract.

This test also checks pH levels, which can provide information about transit time, which is the time it takes food to move through the GI tract. If a person’s pH is low (meaning the stool is more acidic), and if the consistency of the stool is loose and watery, it likely means food is moving too quickly through the GI tract. In order to determine the underlying cause, a follow-up test, like the Food Safe Allergy Test, can help identify foods or spices to which the body may be responding inappropriately.

A low pH does not provide optimal digestion because the pancreatic enzymes do not work well in acidic conditions. Fast transit time can also affect the microflora of the GI tract, especially if it is an ongoing issue. Because of this, a low pH can be associated with too many bowel movements in a day.

Table 5

LE: What is the most innovative aspect of this test?

Dr. Fogle: I appreciate all the information this test provides, but if I had to pick one aspect, it would be the sensitivity testing for the pathogens found. If a pathogen is found, the lab tests which medications and natural substances can kill it and those to which the pathogen is resistant.

This allows people to work with their healthcare providers to create targeted, clinical interventions that will be the most efficient at getting rid of specific pathogens. Without sensitivity testing, doctors can only guess at the best course of action.

I’ve found that doctors are much more willing to try natural ingredients after seeing the results of sensitivity testing for pathogens. This can be a big help for people wanting to try an alternative approach to treating their ongoing GI issues.

Table 6

LE: It is impressive that this one, comprehensive stool analysis yields so much information.

Dr. Fogle: It really is an amazing amount of information. Our senior wellness specialists here at Life Extension can help provide information on how to create a wellness plan based on the results of the test. In more serious situations, they can provide information that will help you have a meaningful and productive conversation with your healthcare provider in order to be able to create a targeted, clinical intervention plan.

The bottom line is that we want people to have powerful information they can use to promote their vital health and longevity, and the Comprehensive Stool Analysis with Parasitology test helps accomplish that goal.

Lab Test Sale
Item #LC100083
Retail: $500
Your price: $375
Lab Test Sale price: $281.25

To order the Comprehensive Stool Analysis w/Parasitology x1 test, call 1-800-208-3444 or visit www.LifeExtension.com

 


Lab Test Super Sale March 25-June 3, 2019

Dr. Scott Fogle is the Executive Director of Clinical Information and Laboratory Services at Life Extension®, where he oversees scientific and medical information as well as its laboratory division.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.