Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a minority member of the gut microbiome, but a very important one. E. coli bacteria normally live in the intestines of healthy people and stimulates the intestinal immune system. It aids digestion and protects us from other harmful microbes. E. coli ferments to produce folic acid, vitamin K2 (this protects against osteoporosis) and Co-enzyme Q10 (essential for mitochondrial function). If there are low counts of E-coli, one can expect problems like osteoporosis and bone problems, mitochondrial function, low mood and poor gut motility. Increased E. coli indicates putrefaction in the intestine and may burden the body with metabolic toxins. Potential causes may be reduced immunity of the intestinal mucosa, low counts of bifidobacteria or excess supply of protein.
Proteus species are most commonly found as part of normal human intestinal flora, along with Escherichia coli and Klebsiella species. Proteus is also found in multiple environmental habitats, including long-term care facilities and hospitals. As a particularly active proteolytic germ, proteus can burden the body considerably through its metabolic toxins.
Citrobacter is a rod belonging to the Enterobacteriaceae family. It is considered an opportunistic pathogen and therefore can be found in the gut as part of the normal flora. Citrobacter are also commonly found in water, soil and food and may be spread by person-to person contact.
Klebsiella is a bacterium, which belongs to the Enterobacteriaceae family. Klebsiella can be found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans. Klebsiella overgrowth is commonly asymtomatic. Some strains of Klebsiella may cause diarrhea and some are enterotoxigenic. A low-starch diet may be helpful if high levels of Klebsiella are present.
Increased enterobacteriaceae indicate disturbances of the intestinal flora, malnutrition or digestive insufficiencies. A larger amount of these bacteria does not belong in the normal intestinal flora. Their multiplication often results from past antibioses.
Decreased Enterococci in the stool indicates disturbances in balance of the intestinal flora. Enterococci produce short-chain fatty acids during the carbohydrate utilisation, which contributes to the acidification and stabilisation of the intestinal environment. As an important contribution to the intestinal milieu, they produce bacteriostatic substances.
Pseudomonas can be found in water and soil as well as fruits ans vegetables. A common source of infection is bottled water, but increased Pseudonomas may also be due to an earlier antibiotic therapy.
Bacteroides is the most abundant bacteria in the microflora, which allows us to digest soluble fibre and make short chain fatty acids. Decreased bacteroides indicate a lowered resistence to pathogenic species (such as salmonella, shigella and clostridia).
Bifidobacteria make up a significant portion of the human gut flora. Along with Lactobacillia and Enterococci, Bifidobacteria control potentially pathogenic organisms and stimulate the intestinal immune system (GALT). Bifidobacteria metabolize carbohydrates only. By doing so, they produce short chain fatty acids, which adidify the intestine and couteract pathogenic organisms. Decreased Bifidobacteria indicate deficiencies in colonisation resistance, putrefaction in the intestine and can promote constipation.
Lactobacilli is a lactic acid forming bacteria, which produces large amounts of short chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFAs lower the intestinal pH and thereby make the evironment alkaline and unsuitable for microbial pathogens (e.g. yeast). In addition, Lactobacilli secrete antifungal and antimicrobial agents. Decreased Lactobacilli indicate disturbances of the intestinal flora.
Clostridia are prevalent flora in a healthy intestine. As clostirida produce gases it may cause flatulence. Increased Clostridia indicates putrefaction in the intestine and may burden the body with metabolic toxins. Increased clostridia are often found in older people due to changes in their nutrition. Clostridium difficile and Clostridium perfringens are one cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
Fecal pH is influenced by numerous factors, but is largely dependet on the fermentation of fiber by the beneficial flora of the gut. With a balanced diet the fecal pH should lie between 6,2 and 6,8. Acid fecal pH indicates disorders of intestinal ecology. An alkaline fecal pH indicated an imbalanced intestine flora. It is possible that proteolytic putrefactive germs are predominant, which raise the fecal pH through alkaline metabolites (e.g. due to a high-protein diet).
The genus Candida is comprised of approximately 200 different species. Candida albicans is the most common strain of them. It is a normal part of the gut flora and most people have some level of Candida albicans in their intestines. But a combination of factors can lead to an overgrowth, which then leads to several undesirable symptoms including fatigue, weight gain, joint pain, and gas.
Increased candida species indicates deficiancies in colonisation resitance, disturbances of the intestinal flora and or a defect mucosa. Candida species may burden the body with toxic metabolites. Some patients respont to even low rates of yeast overgrowth.
Geotrichum candidum belongs to the Endomyceteaceae family. This organism can be found in soil, dairy products and in human skin and mucosae. Symptoms of Geotrichum infection have been associated with diarrhea and enteritis.
An infection with yeasts can have many reasons. Possible causes are things like corticosteroid therapy, stress, diabetes, malnutrition or birth control pills. All of them weaken the immune system and a weakened immune system cannot control yeast or help you get rid of it. Antibiotics are also a common cause of yeast infection because they destroy the good bacteria that keep it under control.
The detection of Helicobacter pylori antigen in stool indicates an infection with this germ. Helicobacter pylori is the most common chronic bacterial pathogen in humans. It lowers stomach acid levels while damaging the mucosal protection within the stomach. It has therefore been attributed with causing stomach and duodenal ulcers.
Elastase findings can be used for the diagnosis or the exclusion of exocrine pancreatic insuffiency. Reduced pancreatic elastase in stool indicates insufficiency of exocrine pancreatic function. Pancreatic elastase 1 levels below 100 are strongly correlated with severe pancreatic insufficiency. Pancreatic elastase 1 levels between 100 and 200 indicate moderate pancreatic insufficiency.
Alpha-1-antitrypsin is a glycoprotein, which is produced by the liver and cells of the gut. It belongs to the group of acute phase proteins and is a marker of of protein loss and permeability of the gut.The measurement of Alpha-1-antitrypsin in stool reflects the permeability of the gut during inflammatory processes. Increased Alpha-1-antitrypsin indicates an increased permeability of the intestinal mucous membrane, which leads to an enteral loss of Alpha-1-antitrypsin.
Secretory IgA (sIgA) is an immune protein, which reacts anti-inflammatory. It coats the intestinal lining, especially the mucosal surfaces and is supposed to protect us from inside. As secretory IgA represents the first line of defense of the GI, immunological activity in the GI tract can be assessed using secretory IgA. Low levels of fecal sIgA increase the risk of leaky gut syndrome and promote the growth of microbial pathogens in the intestine. The risk of inflammatroy immune reactions to undigested food and protein is also increased if low levels of sIgA are present. Low fecal IgA levels can result from physical or mental stress and/or inadequate nutrition. High fecal sIgA indicate immune reactions to antigens from bacteria, yeast or other microbes.
Estradiol and Progesterone
Estrogens are the most important of the female sex hormones. Estrogen is actually made up of a group of hormones, but Estradiol is biologically the most active during the fertile years of women.
It is responsible for:
- The development of the female body, from girl to woman
- The monthly regeneration and protection of the endometrium (womb)
- Breast growth
- The elasticity of the blood vessels
- Radiant skin and healthy hair
- Moist eyes and mucous membranes
- Clear thinking processes
- Stabilisation of moods
Progesterone is produced by the ovaries shortly after ovulation in order to prepare the uterus for a possible pregnancy and to protect the mucous lining of the uterus. Together with Estrogen, the most important of the female sex hormones, progesterone regulates the menstrual cycle.
The sensitive balance between estrogen and progesterone
Estrogen values tend to fluctuate throughout a woman’s lifetime, not just during the menstrual cycle. The strength of these fluctuations is different for each individual and the body reacts to them with different symptoms. It is not just a deficiency in Estrogen that can cause physical complaints: an excess, or Estrogen dominance, can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms, such as water retention, nausea, depressive moods, tiredness, listlessness, lack of concentration, anxiety, breast sensitivity, cysts and fibroids, painful menstruation, and weight gain.
Although it may sound contradictory, an Estrogen dominance can occur at the same time as an Estrogen deficiency due to the fine, coordinated balance between Estrogen and progesterone. The Estrogen levels define how much progesterone is needed. An Estrogen dominance can occur if the body is not producing enough progesterone for the level of Estrogen. This means it can also occur if the body is not producing enough Estrogen (Estrogen deficiency) if the body is also not producing the relative amount of progesterone.
Therefore, in the case of an Estrogen deficiency it is important to not only determine the absolute values of the individual hormones, but also the ratio of Estrogen to progesterone.
DHEA and Cortisol
Cortisol and DHEA are both produced in the adrenal glands. Cortisol is the most important stress hormone besides adrenaline: Stress hormones help the body to react to particular strain. They release energy reserves in order to prepare the body for “escape” or “attack”. During hard, physical work, competitive sports, psychological, physical and mental stress situations, or during a severe illness, the distribution of cortisol is also stimulated.
Cortisol and DHEA play an important role in the different metabolic processes in the body. In immune processes, cortisol helps with its anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effect, and has an important function in maintaining the health of the body.
DHEA is a precursor of female and male sex hormones. The production of DHEA declines with advancing age from the age of 30 and its deficiency can cause various diseases.
It is responsible for:
- Burning of body fat
- Prevention of osteoporosis
- Minimizing cancer and heart diseases
- Strengthening the immune system
- Slowing down the aging process
- Positively influence memory performance
However: Both too low and too high levels can cause unpleasant symptoms.
It is well known that chronic stress is unhealthy – and stress is, in turn, the most important impulse that causes the increase of the distribution of cortisol. If the cortisol levels are too high, symptoms can include immunodeficiency, depression, physical exhaustion, metabolic disorders, diabetes, obesity and sleeping disorders. Excessively high cortisol levels can indeed cause unpleasant symptoms.
Just the same, excessively low cortisol levels can interfere with general well-being: Cortisol is vital. Apart from the provision of energy reserves, it also plays a role in the cardiovascular health,gastrointestinal health, the immune system and brain functions. As does DHEA. Low DHEA levels are susprected to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, osteoporosis, depression, heart disease and obesity. High DHEA levels can cause in women a deeper voice and an increased hair growth all over the body.
Testosterone is a sex hormone that is mainly associated with men – after all, it is responsible for the characteristics that distinguish the appearance of men from women, such as beard growth: it ensures the development of the male sex organ and is responsible for sexual potency and fertility. In addition, it strengthens the heart, brain and bones, supports muscle growth and fat decomposition, counteracts diabetes and high blood pressure, and helps to lower cholesterol levels.
However, testosterone is also important for women, even though they produce 20 to 30 times less testosterone than men. Testosterone has a mood lifting effect, ensures for more assertiveness and enhances the desire for sex in both women and men. It also enhances sexual sensitivity, making it easier for women to reach orgasm.
The body can only profit from all of these positive properties by having a healthy testosterone level; a deficiency can cause the complaints listed above and an excess can, amongst other things, lead to excessive aggressiveness, acne, oily skin and unwanted body hair (face and body) in women.
Testosterone deficiency can affect women as well as men.
Some of the symptoms connected with a testosterone deficiency:
- Decreased libido, potency problems (♂), orgasm difficulties (♀)
- Decrease in muscles / few distinctive muscles
- Fat deposits in the stomach and breast areas
- Cellulite, varicose veins
- Slack arms and face, wrinkle development, dry skin
- Decreased hair growth (e.g. beard (♂))
- Low stamina, consistent tiredness
- Low assertiveness, uncertainty
- Decreased stress resistance, nervousness
- Anxiety, depressive moods