MSMonday: At Home Gut Health Tests
To continue our discussion about all things gut health, we’re starting to trend towards testing now. This week we’ll tackle ways you can test your own gut health at home, without any fancy tests or having to spend tons of money (always nice, right?)
First, a slight disclaimer. As always, work with your doc if you think something bigger is going on. These tests only go so far. If you feel like something is not quite right, trust your gut! Lol, #sorrynotsorry. But seriously, a comprehensive stool test can do wonders for showing you what’s up with your gut bugs, and everything else in your inner pipes. More on all of those tests in the coming weeks too.
So, if you’ve never looked at your poop, it’s about time you start. Your poop will tell you SO MUCH about how you’re body is functioning, or not functioning on the day to day. It’s about time you got familiar with your poop norm, so you know when you’re out of the norm. And yes! This is a topic of conversation I discuss with clients! This is a big part of health, and needs to be talked about when discussing health.
Let’s get to it.
1. Visual Inspection
Told you we were gonna get down and dirty. As I mentioned above, this should be done often, like daily. The more you know about your gut and how it’s functioning, the better. A few things to be looking out for:
Black/Red- This can be a sign of bleeding. (Black stools would be blood that’s from higher in your GI tract and red stools would be a sign of blood from lower in your GI tract). Either way, this is a sign to head to your doc. Unless, of course, you just ate some beets or took activated charcoal.
Green- Often caused by eating lots of veggies! If you’ve just had a huge spinach salad, then kale for dinner, you might be seeing some green in the bowl later. Usually not something to worry about, unless it is more frequent. It also could mean that you’re having a bit of a hard time digesting and absorbing the nutrients from the spinach, or your transit time could have been increased. If it persists over a few weeks, consider optimizing your gut health.
Yellow- Yellow stools can be caused by diet changes, but often they’re caused by illnesses, disease or inflammation. If it persists for longer than a week, you should be checked out by your doc for sure.
Pale/Greenish/Yellowish– This is usually caused by lack of bile. Bile is what gives our poop it’s normal brown color, and when it’s not there, it becomes pale in color. This can happen for many reasons, change in diet, inflammation, obstruction, etc. If you’ve eaten different foods than normal over the past few days, then I wouldn’t worry too much about it. But, if you notice it persisting for more than a few weeks, especially if it’s accompanied with physical symptoms (pain in your abdomen, excess gas, bloating, etc.), it’s time to see your doc.
Floating poop is often caused by diet changes. Many people think floaters are caused by fat malabsorption, or too much fat in the stool, but this is often not the case. Usually floating poop is caused by too much gas that is trapped, usually caused by an increase in fiber. It can also be caused by poor digestion or GI distress/infection. Usually it isn’t an issue, but if you’re also feeling physical symptoms, something could be up.
Having undigested food particles in your poop can be alarming. But sometimes it’s not a big cause for concern. Some foods we eat are very hard for our systems to digest, and will go through our GI tract intact. Especially if we eat quickly, without chewing properly etc. If you’re noticing food particles, that’s the first thing to do. Slow down, chew your food thoroughly and make an effort to make it into small bits before even swallowing. If this is a persistent problem, it can indicate inflammation in the gut, low stomach acid or a need for digestive enzymes.
2. Transit Time
In simple terms, this is the time it takes from eating, to pooping. This can be helpful information so you know if you’re trending more on the constipated side (and might need more water/fiber) or more on the quick side (which might indicate inflammation/malabsorption issues).
Jury is out on “optimal” transit time, but anywhere from 24-48 hours is generally thought of as optimal. It’s also worth noting that men and women will probably be different here. Men being faster and women being slower, so take that into consideration too!
This is an easy test to do, pick something that will “show up” in your poop, beets work REALLY well here, so does corn (lol) although, not AIP friendly. Eat said food, then wait and watch. See how long it takes for it to show itself!
This is another one where “optimal” can vary greatly. Some people’s optimal will be 3x per day, and someone else’s will be 3x per week. Those pretty much represent the ends of the spectrum. If you’re having more than 3x per day, especially if it’s loose/watery, that could indicate you’re not absorbing your nutrients like you should be. Having 3x per week (or less) you might need to up your water intake or veggie intake. If that doesn’t help, you might need to look into some testing to see if there is a gut flora imbalance at play as well.
4. Bristol Stool Chart
The Bristol Stool Chart is a chart that helps people decipher where their poop is in terms of transit time. The longer it’s in your body, the harder and more formed it will be, and vice versa. Optimal poopage is around type 4.
However, it all depends on you, your history and what is normal for you, right? I read an interesting line that said “normal stools are not noticeable during defecation”. I think that illustrates everything perfectly. If you’ve had a history of pain and injury, then 5 or 6 might be more normal for you. It all goes back to bio-individuality in the end again, right?
That being said, if you’re seeing type 1/2 often, straining and in pain- that’s probably a sign of a bigger issue. Same with type 6/7, you might not be getting all the nutrients your food is providing.
What if you take the time to notice all these things and conclude your gut needs a little attention? Head back a few posts and check out how to get started with gut healing. That will get you started on improving any of these tests that you noticed didn’t quite go so well. And the beauty of at home testing like this, you can always be monitoring your results!
If you want more personalized suggestions, consider booking a Master your MS strategy call. On that free 30 minute call, we’ll tackle one question you bring (might be about gut health!) that you feel is holding you back from feeling your best. Book using the button below![otw_shortcode_button href=”https://my.practicebetter.io/#/5b5e24c167c6b9078c61e9e9/bookings?s=5b92c3f3627d791484bb4958″ size=”medium” icon_position=”left” shape=”square” color_class=”otw-greenish”]Master Your MS Strategy Call [/otw_shortcode_button]
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