Testing for Optimal Health: Part 2


In Testing for Optimal Health: Part 1, I discussed the importance of scientific testing to get an accurate assessment of your health. Here are some of the key areas of testing that I consider for my patients – again, exactly which areas we focus on is determined by each person’s individual health map.


Why It Matters:

The adrenal glands are part of the primary system which responds to all forms of stress, be that physical, biochemical, emotional, or environmental. You’ve likely heard the term “adrenal fatigue”, and while there are some people who really do have low cortisol output, we now know that a more appropriate term is adrenal dysfunction – specifically, HPA-D (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal dysfunction). This refers to the whole cascade of communication and coordination between the brain and the adrenal glands that no longer works the way it should.

There is overlap in the brain with these communication pathways between the adrenals and other hormone systems. As the adrenals fall out of balance, many other physiologic functions can be affected, including sex hormone levels, thyroid function, immune function, sleep quality, energy levels, blood sugar regulation, gastrointestinal function, and brain chemistry/mood, among others.

Cost: $150 self-pay; see below for insurance info.


Why It Matters:

Sex hormone imbalances can be underlying causes or contributing factors in health conditions for both men and women. They range from PCOS, infertility and miscarriage, endometriosis, and PMS, to osteoporosis, difficulty losing weight, low libido and trouble sleeping. For men, poor muscle gain/recovery, extra belly fat, symptoms of low testosterone and/or prostate issues can all be improved by including sex hormone testing, including how the body handles and clears out estrogen. It can make a profound difference for both genders!

Cost: $150 self-pay; see below for insurance info.


Generally, it’s best to have the DUTCH Complete profile done, which includes both the adrenal and the sex hormone profiles because there are such complex interactions between all of these hormones – changes in adrenal hormones can affect sex hormones and vice versa. Looking at the whole picture allows you to figure out which areas are the primary issue.

Cost: $250 self-pay (Complete profile); average of less than $100 when submitting to insurance for reimbursement.

Here’s part of an example summary page from the Dutch Complete test.



Why It Matters:

Based on the patient example I outlined above, you’ve got an initial idea of why comprehensive thyroid testing is important. I also recently wrote about why most standard thyroid testing isn’t enough to say whether your thyroid function is normal or not. This is because most of the time, TSH is the only value that is checked. However, not only are the current “normal” ranges for TSH inaccurate, but this marker tells you absolutely nothing about what your actual thyroid hormones look like! If you really want to find out if low thyroid function is behind stubborn weight, fatigue, or poor recovery, check out my previous article.

Cost: $50-100 self-pay (depending on lab chosen); insurance billing available (pricing varies depending on your individual deductible/copay).



Why It Matters: 

Gastrointestinal complaints are particularly common reasons people seek medical care and gut issues can have far reaching effects. For example, research has shown that gut issues can significantly impact the brain, bone health, hormone balance, thyroid, and skin health (acne, rashes, eczema, etc.).   Evaluation of digestive/absorptive functions; status of beneficial, imbalanced or pathogenic gut bacteria/yeast/parasites/viruses; and levels of gut inflammation helps in determining underlying causes of conditions like persistent diarrhea, constipation, bloating, indigestion, and irritable bowel syndrome.  Knowing the status of your gut is also an extremely helpful tool when it comes to maximizing your exercise recovery and performance…you can be eating the best food and taking the top supplements, but if your gut health isn’t up to par, you won’t be absorbing and utilizing all those nutrients like you should!


  • GI Map (comprehensive stool test): $359 self pay; insurance billing available (pricing varies depending on your individual deductible/copay, but averages $241-360).
  • SIBO Breath Testing: $199.74 self pay; insurance billing available (pricing varies depending on your individual deductible/copay).

Here’s an example of the first page of a GI-MAP test.



Why It Matters:

More than 1 in 3 American adults 20 years of age or older currently have pre-diabetes and 90% don’t even know they have it. When it comes to stubborn weight or cravings, looking at advanced biomarkers is critical in figuring out how much of the issue is coming from blood sugar, insulin, and /or leptin issues (as opposed to thyroid/adrenal/sex hormone issues or gut related issues). This kind of testing can detect abnormalities early on – making it that much easier to provide targeted therapies, tackle stubborn body fat, and gain freedom from cravings.

Cost: $85-125 self pay; insurance billing available (pricing varies depending on your individual deductible/copay).



Why It Matters: 

The immune system can react to foods you eat – even if they are healthy – and can be a potential cause and/or contributor to a wide variety of health issues including autoimmune conditions, gastritis, IBS, sinusitis, asthma, fatigue, depression, migraines, eczema, arthritis, acne, and others. Food reactivity can also affect how well you recover from exercise. Eating foods that your immune system reacts to leads to increased intestinal permeability – aka “Leaky Gut”. With leaky gut, you’ve got decreased digestive enzyme function which leads to malabsorption…and if you don’t absorb nutrients as well, you’re not going to rebuild and repair as well after exercise. This translates into less than optimal results and makes you more prone to injuries. Leaky gut also means you won’t absorb anti-inflammatory omega-3’s as well and you’ll likely have more inflammation, more muscle soreness, and ultimately won’t be able to train as often or as intensely as you otherwise could.

Cost: $225-995 (average $550) self-pay; no insurance billing available.


If you’d like to get at the root of your symptoms and see what’s really going on, please reach out to me – we’ll figure out exactly where you need to start!

-Dr. Karen Hufnagl, DC, MS


Dr. Karen is currently available on Wednesdays at CrossFit Sanitas. You can book online directly or through the front desk at 303-449-4635.

*Through the month of October, Dr. Karen is offering a $155 discount on your first two appointments.*

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