Doing what I do, I have a lot of folks come to me with problems like heartburn, constipation, gas and bloating—things that make you think right off the bat, “That’s a digestive issue.” But what about problems like fatigue or weight gain? Even allergies, joint pain or skin problems? What a lot of people don’t realize is that all of these things are connected, and they all come back to your gut.

I have a new book coming out called The Road to Perfect Health, and in it I talk about the vast numbers of bacteria in your body, especially in your digestive tract (which is where roughly 80 percent of your natural defenses are found). And when a healthy digestive balance is upset because of things like poor diet, stress or other factors, the result can be not only poor digestion, but a total breakdown in health.

If you’ve been having persistent health problems that you and your doctor just can’t seem to figure out no matter what you try, it may be time to look at what’s going on in your gut. And to do that, there are two absolutely essential tests that I recommend starting with. One is called a comprehensive stool analysis (CDSA or CSAP) and it’s really pretty remarkable. It evaluates your poop (now don’t cringe, this is important!) and looks at things like how you are digesting your food, as well as your levels of good and bad bacteria, whether pathogenic organisms such as C. difficile are present, what your yeast levels are, and if there are parasites in the gut.

The CDSA will also show you whether you have Leaky Gut Syndrome or inflammation in your digestive system, and it will show you how well your gut immunity is working, along with important gut health markers such as pH, blood, short-chain fatty acids and even how well your pancreas is functioning. These are all extremely important aspects of gut health that together can help you get to the bottom of what is going on in the rest of your body. Again, I can’t stress enough how connected your overall health is to what’s going on in your gut!

The other test is a gluten sensitivity test. Why gluten sensitivity? Because wheat gluten is a major (if not the worst) food irritant to the digestive system, and it is in a huge number of products on the market today—not just bread. Seriously folks, more than 40 percent of Americans are gluten sensitive and most don’t even know it, and 2 million of those have a serious autoimmune disorder called celiac disease, which causes the body to try to attack gluten in the system. And because even a lot of GI doctors don’t understand the difference between gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, most will either label you as having celiac or nothing, which can be extremely frustrating when you don’t feel well and are trying to figure out what’s wrong (read more about this here).The bottom line is that people are having all these problems which could lead to bigger problems later on, and the reality is those problems can be helped.

Both of these tests are non-invasive and can be done right at home (visit and for more information). Then, all you have to do is send the tests to the lab for analysis (prepaid envelopes are provided) and hopefully take the first step toward getting your health back on track. If they seem expensive, think about it this way: how much money do you spend each week or each month on frivolous things you really don’t need? Isn’t your health a hundred times more important than a $4 latte every morning? And even if your insurance doesn’t cover the cost right away, you may be eligible for reimbursement, so I beg you—make this investment in your health. It’s worth it to get to the root of your problems and start enjoying the vibrant health and energy you deserve!!