Cutting-edge advances in healthcare in recent years have given rise to understanding the human body on a microscopic level. The more data you have, the more precise you can be with a diet and supplement protocol to heal the body.
Sometimes, even with blood tests it can be really tough to pin down the exact root cause of various diseases and dysfunctions. Or, as a practitioner you might just want to optimise the treatment of your clients. Either way, metabolomics is here to help us look at the stream of nano molecules that keep you alive and healthy!
What is Metabolomics?
First, let’s understand what metabolism is, which forms the basis of metabolomics. Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that sustain life in an organism. There are two kinds of metabolism:
- Anabolism - Anabolism is when simple molecules are built up into more complex ones. It centres around growth and building. For example, gaining muscle mass is an anabolic process where the body builds and repairs muscle tissue.
- Catabolism - Catabolism is when large and complex molecules are broken down into simpler ones. An example is the process whereby muscles start to break down instead of growing to replenish depleted energy levels of the body.
Metabolites are the intermediate products of these metabolic processes that are triggered by various enzymes naturally occurring within cells. To understand this better, let’s take an example of how carbohydrates from food are converted into energy. Glycolysis is the process in which glucose from carbohydrates is broken down to produce energy.
This is a short version of what the process looks like: Carbohydrates – via glycolysis → glucose → pyruvic acid → acetyl-CoA → energy. Within these, glucose and pyruvic acid are examples of the intermediate metabolites produced in the process.
So, metabolomics is the study of an organism’s metabolome, that is a collection of metabolites found in a particular organism. Metabolites can be impacted by various factors such as diet, nutrition status, toxin exposure, genetics, gut microbiome changes and diseases. Therefore, by analyzing these small molecules we can identify an individual’s unique metabolomic signature and see issues in several areas of their health.
Origin of metabolomics and recent advances
Roger Williams introduced the concept of a metabolic profile in the late 1940s. William and his co-workers suggested that each individual may have a ‘metabolic pattern’ that is reflected in their biological fluids such as human urine and tissue extracts. They used data from over 200,000 paper chromatograms to show that while metabolic patterns were different for all subjects, they were relatively consistent in each person.
They went on to use their methods to examine samples of a variety of subjects, such as alcoholics, schizophrenics, and residents of mental hospitals, and produced evidence that each of these groups had a characteristic metabolic pattern.
Since then, there have been several advances in the field of metabolomics. For instance, in January 2005, the human metabolome project was established. This consists of a catalog of approximately 500 metabolites, 1,200 drugs and 3,500 food components: it is a freely accessible web resource.
Use of a metabolomics test in functional nutrition
Today, metabolomics testing is one of the greatest assets in the field of functional nutrition. A metabolomics test examines urine and plasma metabolites such as organic acids and amino acids.
Analysing these metabolites and their pathways provides insight into various areas related to gut health, neurotransmitter status, detoxification pathways, mitochondrial health, deficiencies and nutritional status such as whether your macronutrients are being processed well in the body. It is useful to assess the need for diet modification, antioxidant protection, detoxification and other healing modalities.
Since bio individuality is one of the basic tenets in functional nutrition, a metabolomics test can prove very helpful in treating clients. It will help you identify the unique metabolic signature of your patients and make a targeted protocol according to the results.
For instance, let’s say your client has mental health issues such as depression, instead of supplementing randomly, you can get a metabolomics test done that has over 20 different markers that indicate depression. These include alanine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, tryptophan, methionine, and asparagine – all of them have some involvement in the progression of depressive symptoms.
You can find the levels of which neurotransmitters and markers are off, combine it with symptoms, look at other correlations that could be negatively impacting these markers and come up with a targeted diet and supplement plan for depression! Clearly, with metabolomics you can dig further into the root cause of chronic diseases that may be due to metabolic disturbances.
Who will benefit from metabolomics testing?
People suffering from the following issues can immensely benefit from metabolomics testing:
- Mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Anxiety, Autism, Bipolar disorder, Brain Fog, Depression
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Gut issues - Constipation, Diarrhoea, Gas/Bloating, Bowel disorders, Impaired digestion
- Metabolic disorders - exercise intolerance, weight loss or gain issues, poor muscle mass, inborn errors of metabolism
- Autoimmune disorders
- Diabetes, insulin resistance, pre diabetes
- Inflammation and oxidative stress
- Kidney and liver diseases
- Toxicity or detoxification issues
- Skin issues like acne, eczema, and psoriasis
- Sleep disorders
- Unexplained chronic illnesses
Practically, all diseases under the sun!
About the OMX Organic Metabolomics test from Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory
The organic metabolomics test (omx) offered by diagnostic solutions laboratory is the best metabolomics test to gain insight into a person’s metabolomic signature. It examines urine and plasma metabolites and goes beyond the traditional metabolite lists.
It evaluates six functional categories of health:
- Metabolic and macronutrient processing - glucose processing, fatty acid oxidation etc
- Amino acid and protein metabolism
- Nutritional and vitamin status - B vitamins, biotin, meat intake, plant components, fructose intake etc
- Stress & Mood - neurotransmitters like GABA, catecholamines, serotonin and cortisol
- Microbial Metabolites - amino acid, polyphenol, isoflavone and fungal assessments
- Toxic Impacts - oxidative damage, toxins, urea cycles and kidney impact
OMX also offers additional key markers and ratios including cortisol, kynurenine, microalbumin, equol, and more. To test for OMX, the patient has to give their first-morning urine specimen and a blood draw after fasting for 8 hours.
Things to remember for OMX:
- Avoid fruits, jams and jellies at least 48 hours before the test as they contain most of the organic acids tested for so they can influence many markers on OMX
- Our bodies have countless biochemical pathways so every marker in OMX is affected by several diseases and dysfunctions.
- Always remember to combine symptoms with markers
- Mechanisms are different for every amino acid, but in general liver and kidneys are involved in their processing so damage in these organs will impact the levels regardless of protein intake
- Even severe impairments in digestion and gastrointestinal disorders will impact the metabolites as absorption will be impaired.
One needs a deep understanding of biochemistry to get the most accurate interpretation and application of the results. To learn more, you can check our deep dive in the advanced tests course. Metabolomics can enable practitioners to decode various metabolic pathways and analytics to identify dysfunctions that underline or even precede disease. It is really an exceptional tool for holistic healing!
- Nd, K. F. (2023, October 19). The latest in organic acid testing: What clinicians should know about metabolomics. Dr. Kara Fitzgerald. https://www.drkarafitzgerald.com/2022/11/08/the-latest-in-organic-acid-testing-what-clinicians-should-know-about-metabolomics/
- (2023, July 7). OMX | Organic Metabolomics: What you need to know. Today’s Practitioner. https://todayspractitioner.com/omx-or%20ganic-metabolomics/omx-organic-metabolomics-what-you-need-to-know/
- OMXTM Organic Metabolomics - Urine/Plasma by Diagnostic Solutions. (n.d.). Rupa Health. https://www.rupahealth.com/lab-tests/diagnostic-solutions-omx-tm-organic-metabolomics-urine-plasma
- OMX | Organic Metabolomics. (2024, February 7). Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory. https://www.diagnosticsolutionslab.com/tests/omx
- Our Comprehensive Organic Acids Test (OAT) | MoSAICDX. (2023, December 12). MosaicDX. https://mosaicdx.com/test/organic-acids-test/
- Board, A., PhD. (2017, August 21). 6 Milestones in Metabolomics: Driving our understanding of the metabolome. Proteomics & Metabolomics From Technology Networks. https://www.technologynetworks.com/proteomics/lists/6-milestones-in-metabolomics-driving-our-understanding-of-the-metabolome-288878
- Marcin, A. (2019, August 6). Catabolism vs. Anabolism: What’s the Difference? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/catabolism-vs-anabolism