What is a stool test?
A stool test involves analysing a sample of your stool (poo) for bacteria, microbes, parasites and other markers which test for digestive function, gut immunity and inflammation. Stool tests can range from basic ones which simply test for levels of bacteria, determining the health of your microbiome to a fully comprehensive stool test to get the whole picture of your gut health. Which one is most suitable depends on each individual and their presenting symptoms.
Why take a stool test?
These tests can be an invaluable way of getting to the bottom of many health issues, not just for digestion problems but also other non-digestive related symptoms. Our gut also makes up 80% of our immune system so it makes sense that the healthier your gut is, the healthy you are, which is especially important in recent times.
If you suffer from any of the following symptoms, a stool, test could provide some answers… and possible solutions for a happy and healthier you.
Specific gut symptoms could include:
depression / anxiety
Here are some markers you can get tested in a comprehensive stool analysis that I feel provide a good foundation of knowledge to determine gut health.
Our digestive tract is colonized by trillions of bacteria (more than the number of cells in our bodies). Determining the abundance and diversity of your microbiome will determine if you have enough health promoting bacteria which are an important defence against unfriendly bacteria and disease producing microbes. These beneficial bacteria can also make vitamins, aid gut motility, promote good digestion, reduce inflammation and boost immunity. Finding out if there is dysbiosis present (an imbalance of gut bacteria – less beneficial species and more undesirable ones) can be important in getting to the bottom of both gut related and non-gut related symptoms.
Secretory IgA is an immunoglobulin (a type of antibody which is part of our immune system) which is found in the lining of our digestive tract. They are our bodies first line of defence as their job is to protect us from undesirable pathogens. Low levels of sIgA could indicate possible food allergies or intolerances and this could therefore be addressed in specific recommendations to increase levels.
Stool tests can also investigate if there is a Candida or yeast overgrowth which can be really common if people are experiencing high stress levels, frequently taking antibiotics or have a high sugar diet. Candida is a common yeast that lives naturally and in harmony in our intestines and is kept in check by our beneficial bacteria, however, under certain circumstances, it can become what is known as an “opportunistic pathogen” and produce a wide array of symptoms: digestive issues, tiredness, fungal infections, brain fog, skin issues, mood swings, PMT, headaches, UTIs, thrush, muscle aches and pains, cravings and even nasal congestion and sinus problems. Yes , the list is long... having a yeast overgrowth can cause havoc with our health and by testing for it with many clients I have found it has been the mediator of many health issues.
To sum things up…
Stool analysis is an informative test to potentially get to the root cause of health issues and symptoms by digging deeper, revealing vital information about what is going on in someone’s digestive system. As a nutritional therapist practitioner, this helps me create a more focused nutrition programme to potentially improve symptoms and health of my clients.
If you would like more information about stool testing, feel free to get in contact with me and book a 30 minute discovery call where we can have a chat about which tests and nutrition coaching might beneficial for you.