This section on Opportunistic Organisms is from the full description of the Comprehensive Digestive Health Test.
Opportunistic Imbalances – Bacteria, Fungi/Yeast, Parasites, Worms, Viral.
Beyond the above predominantly Pathogenic Organisms, there are many other microbes that are part of the Gut Biome. The Gut is just another ecosystem!
What makes this opportunistic organisms section so insightful to you and useful to the Practitioner is how some of these microbes can indeed be another piece of the health-challenge-puzzle.
Dysbiotic Opportunistic Bacteria
The Lab state that; “Many bacteria measured on the GI-MAP are considered opportunistic pathogens, as they only cause disease and illness in some individuals, particularly the immune-compromised. Many individuals come into contact with opportunistic organisms / bacteria and experience no symptoms.” So it’s essential to consider the individual (you) as part of the interpretation of these test results.
The Lab go on to say; “Most sources consider these microbes to be normal in the stool. However, they can cause gastroenteritis and inflammation at high levels in vulnerable patients. Symptoms may include diarrhea, loose stools, abdominal pain, or even constipation. Overgrowth and excessive colonization by opportunistic bacteria may occur when the commensal bacteria are impaired by poor diet, antibiotic use, parasitic infection, or a weakened immune system. When intestinal permeability is present (see zonulin), these microbes could escape the lumen of the gut and infect extraintestinal sites.”
An example of an opportunistic organism that we frequently see in High numbers is Streptococcus spp. “These can colonize skin and mucous membranes throughout the body. High levels in the intestine may result from low stomach acid, PPI use, reduced digestive capacity, SIBO or constipation; Elevated levels may also be indicative of intestinal inflammatory activity, and may cause loose stools.”
Opportunistic Bacteria as a Trigger for Autoimmunity
Some opportunistic organisms / bacteria can also initiate autoimmune mechanisms (thyroiditis or inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis). Although the Gastrointestinal symptoms are less likely from elevated levels of these bacteria, when intestinal permeability is present they can leave the gut (pass through the lumen) and infect extra-intestinal areas.
For Example – we sometimes see High Klebsiella spp. levels come back on the reports, which has been associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, ankylosing spondylitis, and other spondyloarthropathies (which include psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis).
Fungal and Yeast Opportunistic Overgrowths
There is a great deal of confusion regarding fungal and yeast overgrowths. At one extreme they are rarely assessed carefully and considered and at the other extreme organisms like Candida are blamed for all symptoms and chased around the body as if it’s the only thing to consider.
As usual – the answer is somewhere in the middle………. and Individual.
The Lab explain that; “Fungal organisms are commonly found in the human digestive tract, but fungal overgrowth can cause illness in susceptible individuals. Fungal growth may be localized in the body. For instance, Candida spp. may be high in the large intestine but normal in the small intestine, and vice versa.”