GOOD HEALTH: These days researching your own health is a lot easier.
GOOD HEALTH: These days researching your own health is a lot easier. Supplied

Functional testing: offering a whole new health choice


LIVING NATURALLY with Olwen Anderson

SEVERAL decades ago, when I was desperately trying to get a handle on my own health problems, there were two frustrating obstacles that, fortunately, no longer exist today.

One obstacle was access to knowledge: computers didn't exist, Dr Google wasn't practising yet, and so accessing information about health was a slow process.

Locating journal articles meant physically navigating through dusty library shelves filled with outdated journals and thumbing through whatever (even older) books you could get your hands on. Almost it's own full-time job.

As a result of this restricted access to information, the accepted belief of the time was that your fate in health was determined by one practitioner stating "well, that's how it will be”.

A belief developed that one qualified professional had all the answers, was always right, and was the gatekeeper to any further exploration of the problem you faced.

The other obstacle was lack of access to testing.

Until a few years ago it wasn't possible to organise tests investigating your health problem, even if you were prepared to pay for it.

But thanks to the new field of functional testing, you can explore your body functions (or dysfunctions) right through to genetic testing, and often in a non-invasive way.

It's a service that is helping bring power over health care to the consumer.

For example, if you suspect you have a hormone problem, functional urine or saliva testing can help decipher your hormone imbalance.

Think your genes could be contributing to your mood disorder? Or that there's a particular type of diet you're genetically predisposed to? You have access to genetic testing. Tummy troubles?

There are several varieties of stool tests available to inform you about what happens to your food after you've eaten it.

You can even have your urine assessed to get a personalised report of what specific nutrients you need more or less of than the rest of the population.

Like other areas of health, some of these tests have been validated, and some not; it pays to do your due diligence before reaching for your wallet.

But, thanks to the power of the internet, accessing info is easier than ever.

So, if you're struggling with a health problem and want to find out more about your body's needs, functional testing offers you a way to find the answers.

The tests can be arranged through clinical naturopaths and through medical practitioners trained in functional medicine.

Olwen Anderson is a naturopath and counsellor.

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