I’m often asked how someone can tell whether or not they have a healthy gut. There are actually quite a few ways to do this, which I will explain below.
Firstly, you may have heard me talk about the Candida Test.
Upon wakening in the morning, before eating or drinking anything, you spit saliva into a glass of water. Leave this for 5 minutes and then review the result.
If the saliva has stayed floating on the water, this indicates there’s unlikely to be any bacterial overgrowth in your gut.
If the saliva looks heavy and stretches down into the water and/or has strings hanging and/or has sunk to the bottom of the glass, this suggests there is bacterial overgrowth.
How exactly does it work?
The reason the saliva will hang down in the water if you have bad bacteria is because bacteria weighs more than your saliva does. The bad bacteria begins in the intestinal tract, where it sets up its ongoing production. As time goes by the bacteria migrates along the mucous membranes of the digestive tract into the stomach, then up the oesophagus and finally into the mouth.
Another way to determine your gut health is through your stool.
This is one of the most commonly used stool charts in the world;
Type 1 – Indicates problems with constipation from lack of fibre, low levels of beneficial gut bacteria or recent use of antibiotics
Type 2 – Can be a symptom of IBS and long-term chronic constipation
Type 3 – May indicate latent constipation
Type 4 – Optimal
Type 5 – May indicate incomplete digestion of food (especially if food particles are visible), or not enough fibre or carbohydrates to feed the good gut flora
Type 6 – Indicates abnormally rapid transit time and can be the result of stress, medications, laxatives or a gut disorder
Type 7 – This is typical diarrhoea and usually results from food poisoning or waterborne gut infections, but can also be the result of ‘bypass’ or ‘overflow’ diarrhoea resulting from severe constipation or faecal impaction.
As with all of these tests, consistency is important. A one-off stool type may be nothing to worry about, but frequently experiencing stools that match Type 1 or 2 and Type 6 or 7 may indicate a problem.
Beyond the form of the stool, there are other factors to look out for;
Colour – brown is best. One-off discolouration might simply be from the food/supplements you are eating, but more consistent light or dark stools may be cause for further investigation. Light coloured stools (pale, clay or grey) may indicate low iron levels, fat malabsorption or poor bile production, while dark stools may be the result of diet, supplements, lack of hydration or an underlying gut dysfunction. Obviously blood in your stool is not a good sign and means you should get a medical check-up.
Mucous – visible mucous that looks like a slimy gel on your poop may be a sign of inflammation in your digestive tract. It may also indicate other conditions such as a gut infection, gluten sensitivity or inflammatory bowel disease.
Floating – stools that float to the surface in the toilet are most often caused by diet-induced gas, but can also be the result of lactose intolerance or more serious diseases such as bowel infections or pancreatic and gallbladder diseases (amongst others). Generally, floating stools are nothing to worry about but if it becomes a consistent thing and is associated with other IBS symptoms, it may point to an underlying disorder or bacterial imbalance.
Undigested food particles – Some foods are not fully digestible – i.e. corn, beetroot, seeds, etc. But, for foods that should be easily digested, undigested food can also indicate intestinal inflammation, low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, pancreatic enzyme deficiency, poor nutrient absorption or other gut dysfunction.
Finally, we can also evaluate our gut health by assessing symptoms we may be experiencing in the body.
Take this test by Dr. Brian Martin to find out whether you may have an unhealthy gut;
- Do you have cravings for or eat too many sweets, chocolates, breads, etc.?
- Have you ever been on repeated or extended doses of antibiotics?
- Do you have health problems that doctors cannot resolve or determine the cause of?
- Do you have recurrent infections in any of these areas: sinus, urinary, anal, vaginal, prostate?
- Do you have more fatigue than normal?
- Women: Do you have menstrual problems, PMS, or other hormonal irregularities?
- Men: Do you have a reduced sex drive?
- Do you have problems with concentration or memory?
- Have you ever been on repeated or extended doses of steroids or taken the birth control pill for more than 2 years?
- Do you have skin problems or a history of skin problems such as eczema, rashes, tingling, itching or burning?
- Do you have a white coating on your tongue, especially when you wake in the morning?
- Do you have digestive problems such as bloating, diarrhoea, constipation or abdominal pain?
These can all be symptoms of bacterial overgrowth, therefore the more you answered “yes” to, the unhealthier your gut is likely to be.
If you feel you may need help improving the health of your gut then join us on the wellness programme! Or for a private discussion, email us at; firstname.lastname@example.org