Gut Health Series – The Importance of Stool Testing
Welcome to the Gut Health Series – The Importance of Stool Testing
Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll be looking closely at things that go wrong in the gut and what the possible causes are.
This week we’re kicking off with a look at the importance of stool testing and in particular what these awesome tests can reveal.
If you have any questions, please do get in touch. Gut health is the cornerstone of what I do. I’m incredibly passionate about helping people recover from gut related issues.
Assessment of intestinal ecology through stool culture such as bacteriology and yeast help to identify the presence of beneficial flora, imbalanced flora, and dysbiotic flora, the latter being when the good and bad guy ratio is disrupted. The end result being too much of the bad stuff.
The GI Effects Comprehensive Stool Test, of which you can see the first page of 14 pages here
is an incredibly informed test which gives us a lot of detail about the state of a persons gut, thereby reflecting the overall state of their health.
Funnily enough, not everyone who has markers on a stool test will experience gut related symptoms. Symptoms can also be general complaints such as fatigue, body pain, headaches, cognitive problems, brain fog….
What the test reveals
Gut microbiome, or gut bacteria diversity. We want a high diversity to be healthy.
Inflammation, which could reveal either early onset inflammatory bowel disease, (IBD) or full blown inflammatory bowel disease, depending on the levels.
Infection, whether or not parasites are present.
Insufficiency, detailed analysis of digestive function including levels of enzymes that are needed to properly digest food.
Imbalance, levels of beneficial bacteria, opportunistic bacteria and yeasts.
Impairment of intestinal functions can contribute to diseases and create food allergy and intolerance. Toxic substances can escape if the gut becomes permeable and this can overload the system leading to the development of autoimmune disease. (1)
Inflammation can significantly increase intestinal permeability and compromise nutrient absorption. The extent of inflammation can be assessed and monitored by examination of the levels of biomarkers such as lactoferrin, eosinophil protein X, lysozyme, calprotectin, white blood cells and mucus.
These markers can be used to differentiate between inflammation caused by parasites, pathogens or IBD.
The mammalian gastrointestinal tract harbors a complex microbiota consisting of between 500 and 1000 distinct microbial species. (2) Analysing the state of beneficial bacteria can help rule out IBS, low levels of Bifidobacter, Lactobacillus and E Coli have been associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Intestinal flora are considered to be a key influencer of human health and well-being.
Gastrointestinal complaints are among the most common reasons people seek medical advise. Symptoms include, abdominal discomfort, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, flatulence, burping, acid reflux and malabsorption.
We will look more closely at intestinal infections in the next blog.
Until then, I hope you’ve found this blog of interest. If you have any questions, please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.
(1) Functional Medicine Training Programme. Insiders Guide – Stool Analysis: Interpretation and Treatment.
(2) Importance of microbial colonization of the gut in early life to the development of immunity. Kelly D, King T, Aminov R. Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland. D.Kell@rowett.ac.uk