One of the newer tests I've recently added to my service offerings is Organic Acids Testing. While I've had access to it and taken courses on it, it has taken me a loooong time to finally wrap my brain around all the amazing information that can be garnered from this test.
Below I'll discuss who should take it, and why. Then I'll go into (light) detail on what exactly you'll see in your report and what those results might mean for you. I'll focus on the OAT offered by Great Plains, mostly because it's the one I'm most familiar with.
What is the Organic Acids Test?
It's a simple urine collection sent into the lab that will illuminate how the body's cells are functioning metabolically. Energy production, detoxification, neurotransmitter breakdown, and activities of the intestinal microbes, will all have metabolic by-products. These (organic acids) spill into the urine and can then tell us so much about how you're using your food, how your brain is functioning, what your gut is up to, and if you're being exposed to toxins (plus more goodies).
Who Should Consider Taking an Organic Acids Test?
Basically, anyone who is already working to eat well, manage stress, exercise the right amount and still doesn't feel great, should be considering looking at what is happening at the cellular level. The OATs test can help illuminate hidden healing opportunities for those dealing with:
Weight loss resistance
Subtle abnormalities in metabolic health can be the result of enzyme, substrate or cofactor deficiencies. Without getting too far in the weeds here, all cellular metabolism basically goes like this:
A substrate provides raw material for a chemical reaction to occur.
Then an enzyme causes the reaction to happen.
The enzyme uses a cofactor as fuel for the reaction.
Finally, there is a product from the reaction. (and by-products)
Here's a simple real-world example:
You have ingredients to make a delicious frittata for breakfast. (Substrate)
You decide on a recipe that tells you exactly how to combine the ingredients. (Enzyme)
The oven set to 375°F will cook the frittata until golden and delicious. (Cofactor)
Finally, you sit down to the perfect brunch. (Product)... but also have a bunch of dishes and cleaning left out (By Product).
What do Results Look Like?
Now that you see what we are looking at, you can better understand what the results mean. You'll get about 76 different markers showing enzyme function. Specifically, each marker is quantifying the amount of substrate accumulation using a range of two standard deviations (the orange bars depicted below). Out of range values could be cofactor or substrate deficiencies, genetic abnormalities, genetic expression, or other factors inhibiting enzyme function etc...
In general, low values mean that the enzyme is functioning optimally- no overflow of the substrates. However, higher values (to the right of the orange bars) indicate that there is likely an issue with either the cofactor or substrate availability. To use our example above: Your missing an ingredient, or you have the oven set to the wrong temperature.
What do Results Mean for You?
First of all, we want to make sure that whatever the results tell us, that there is a strong correlation with how you feel and function. I never suggest any protocols based solely on results. But, if we see results in any enzyme that suggest dysfunction, next we'll do the following:
See what other enzymes in that category are doing. Meaning, if there's one aberration in all your gut function enzymes, and you have no symptoms, then it's less of a concern. But if you have a whole bunch of enzymes malfunctioning in the gut, and you complain of symptoms, next we'll look at:
What diet and lifestyle changes we can make to help you get the substrates and cofactors you need for that enzyme to function.
We might look at your genetic profile (if you have one done) to see if you are predisposed to having issues with that particular enzyme function.
Lastly, I might suggest temporary supplementation to help supply you with substrates and/or cofactors to help that enzyme function more efficiently.
What Types of Enzymes does the OAT Look at?
The 76 enzyme markers all fall into the following categories:
Yeast and Fungus
Candida and Biofilms
Oxalates (not often shown in other tests)
Mitochondrial Function and Citric Acid Cycle
Ketone and Fatty Acid Metabolism
Indices of Detoxification
Amino Acid Metabolism and Phosphoric Acid
Want to learn more? Ready to sit down and chat about if testing like this is right for you? Comment below or contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
All information adopted from: "An Advanced Guide to Organic Acid Testing" by Brendan Vermeire, FDN-P.
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