Tired of misdiagnosed or dismissed tummy troubles?
Frustrated with endless nights searching the web for answers?
Sick of your digestive system dictating (and often ruining) your day?
Fed-up playing a guessing game with your gut health?
There’s no denying that gut health issues can be debilitating and frustrating.
Especially when your GP gives you the “all clear” or your test results come back “normal” despite ongoing symptoms.
Chances are, if you are reading this article, you can resonate with some or all the above. And, you are not alone. In fact, as a registered nutritional therapist, I work with individuals like you every day. Individuals who are seeking answers, who feel they have tried everything and are eager to regain control of their gut health once and for all!
In most cases, comprehensive stool testing is the next step.
What is stool testing?
When it comes to gut health, I’m a big advocate for testing and not guessing.
Why? Because blindly making changes to your nutrition or lifestyle could lead you in the wrong direction and sometimes do more harm than good.
Functional Stool testing is one of the best and most comprehensive gut health tests available and can give a snapshot of what’s going on inside your gut. By assessing key digestive markers, this test can provide an overview of all aspects of digestive function. It can offer much-needed clarity, demystify symptoms and help bring peace of mind.
A comprehensive stool test acts as an important tool, measuring (good and bad) bacteria levels, detecting markers for inflammation, immune or digestive issues, and gives a general overview of an individual’s gastrointestinal health.
Contrary to what you might think, taking a stool test is quick, mess-free and easy to do from the comfort of your home. Each test requires just three swabs from one sample, which is then posted back to the lab for analysis.
What can comprehensive stool testing show?
There are two main types of stool tests used in the UK: the kind doctors use to screen for certain diseases or conditions and the type registered nutritional therapists use to inform nutritional therapy recommendations.
If you head to your doctor with symptoms like diarrhoea, constipation or bloating, or if you’ve been passing mucus or blood in your bowel movements, they may ask you to do a stool sample. This test may rule out serious diseases like cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or H. Pylori but often these tests fail to identify the root cause of what is causing your symptoms.
Instead of digging deeper, individuals get labelled with a diagnosis of "IBS" (irritable bowel syndrome) - a BS "umbrella term" which is not a real diagnosis. More on that here.
Private gut health tests via nutritionists - like Stellar Health, provide a more comprehensive overview of the gut’s health. A comprehensive stool analysis test looks at the microbiology in your gut, and indicates where there are imbalances or even absences of particular bacteria.
It can also provide information on:
✔️ gases produced by bacteria (e.g. methane or sufidogenic) which may be contributing to SIBO, bloating, and/or constipation
✔️ inflammation, e.g. calprotectin
✔️ immune, e.g. secretory IgA
✔️ digestion, e.g. enzymes and bile acids
✔️ mucin degradation, e.g. leaky gut
✔️ yeasts including candida
Armed with this invaluable information, we can begin to paint a picture of what’s contributing to your symptoms and determine what dietary, lifestyle and supplemental interventions might be most effective.
While stool tests can be an important tool in assessing potential digestive imbalances, it’s important to remember that they are not a magic bullet. However, when used alongside a client’s case history, it can be a really helpful guide to inform next steps and a more targeted and personalised nutrition plan.
Why should I consider a comprehensive stool test?
The health of our gut is closely linked to the health of just about every organ in our body, including the brain, bladder, heart, skin, and even vaginas! With this in mind, I believe that anyone can benefit from comprehensive stool testing and that gut health testing should be a standard part of preventive care.
As already discussed, stool testing can vary depending on whether it is carried out by a doctor or a nutritionist. While both tests have a place in your journey to better gut health, it’s important to understand the difference between the two.
Doctors should be your first point of contact should you start to experience issues with your gut. When a doctor is examining your stool sample, they are looking to rule out specific diseases. However, frustratingly these tests do not uncover the root of the problem and can often come back “normal”, leaving the patient confused and without answers.
A typical result from a basic lab stool culture (from your doctor) might look something like this:
Not only does this result provide little information, but it can also lead you to believe your gut is healthy or balanced, even though your symptoms are telling you it isn’t.
I’ve had so many clients that have received “normal” basic stool culture results, only to do comprehensive stool testing and find that they have severe fungal or microbial imbalances.
Comprehensive stool testing differs because it allows us to cast a wider net, looking at chronic disease-related microbial (bacteria, fungal, parasites) markers and information regarding digestion efficiency. When you suffer from symptoms like bloating, foul wind or alternating bowel movements, the issue is functional and not visible to cameras, endoscopes or the naked eye.
Functional stool testing isn’t about “yes” or “no” results. It’s about looking at patterns in the entire gut ecosystem, your health history and current health and using this information to get to the bottom of the problem and inform personalised diet recommendations.
Ultimately, a comprehensive stool test can give you answers, clarity and the foundation for a gut health roadmap.
How much does stool testing cost?
Comprehensive stool tests are highly specialised and currently not offered through the NHS. At present, the only option is to pay for them privately.
There are many different stool tests on the market, and while cost can vary from test to test, there’s no denying that it can be an expensive procedure. However, when you suffer from persistent debilitating symptoms that affect your daily life, finding an answer can outweigh any cost and make it worth every penny.
Imagine; no longer stressing over food labels, worrying where the nearest loo is or choosing clothes based on what you want to wear, not how bloated you are.
Ready to reap the benefits of comprehensive stool testing? The good news is it is included in my 90 Days to Better Gut Health 1:1 nutrition programme.
90 days to a happier, healthier gut (yes, really!)
🎈 Bloating 🤢 acid reflux 😲 unpredictable bowel movements 🥴 indigestion
😞 constipation 💨 foul wind 🥱 fatigue 💩diarrhoea 😩 stomach cramps…
It’s time to break free from never-ending tummy troubles for good with my 90 Days to Better Gut Health 1:1 Programme!
For an investment of £1497 or 3 monthly payments of £499, this 90-day programme provides a window into the goings-on of your gut and is the only way to get a full scope of clinical tests carried out through the trusted labs I use.
By joining my programme, you’ll receive:
With my combined approach of comprehensive stool testing and personalised nutritional assessment, this programme can fine-tune any imbalances, address symptoms and get you on the path to a happy, healthier gut 🙌
Ready to get to the bottom of your gut health issues and FINALLY feel like yourself again?
Did you know that hidden in the walls of our digestive system, we have a second brain called the gut-brain-axis and it is transforming our understanding of the links between good gut health and mood?
The gut-brain-axis (GBA) consists of a two-way communication between our brain and our enteric nervous system, (neurons in our gut that control the function of our gastrointestinal tract).
This system of nerves in our gastrointestinal system has over 100 million neurons!!! This system has so many nerves our gut has earned the nickname “the gut brain” or “the second brain”.
Stress, anxiety and depression can have a direct impact on our “gut brain” and how well our gut works, and vice versa.
Our “gut brain” is influenced by our sympathetic (“fight or flight”) and parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) modes and sends signals along the vagus nerve (an information highway) to our brain, relaying important messages about what’s going on.
This can influence how well our gut functions and helps explain why during times of worry, anxiety and stress (fight or flight) we may experience:
This two-way communication between our brain and our gut brain influences how we feel and think on a daily basis. A prime example of this in action is the feeling of butterflies in our stomach when we feel nervous or anxious before an important meeting or exam.
Probiotics and good gut bacteria support anxiety, mood and mental health
The balance of our gut bacteria matter when it comes to mental health. Recent advances in gut health research has highlighted the importance of certain gut bacteria in this bi-directional communication.
The health of our gut and the variety of our gut microbes influence how we think and how we feel.
Addressing leaky gut or any other gut imbalances is an essential step when it comes to supporting mental wellbeing, such as:
How does the gut brain and our actual brain communicate?
Our gut bacteria chat with our brain and vice versa and use different modes of communication, including:
The health of our gut has an effect on our brain and how we feel from day to day. Inflammation, a lack of microbial diversity and even specific species of gut bacteria have been linked with poor mental health including anxiety, low mood and depression. Research shows that altering bacteria in the gut through specific dietary changes may help to treat stress-related mood disorders and anxiety.
Contact me now to find out more about my 90-day personalised 1:1 support package to nail your nutrition and solve your anxiety and gut symptoms for good.
No one really knows for definite (yet) what causes small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Some theories include:
Could this be you? Find out more about what SIBO is and how to get tested for SIBO in the UK.
If you've tested positive for SIBO find out what to do about it here.
Further information on SIBO testing, including prices can be found here.
I’d love to know if you are incorporating any of my tips on how to reduce the risk of bloating? But, if you feel you have already tried absolutely EVERYTHING, and you have been given the all-clear by your GP but you are STILL struggling with excessive bloating, belching or gas, it might be time to consider Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or “SIBO”.
What is SIBO?
SIBO is when normal bacteria get moved from the large intestine into the small intestine where they can cause digestion problems, including excessive bloating and/or belching. SIBO is thought to be behind about 60% of IBS cases.
How can I get tested for SIBO in the UK?
Why test for SIBO?
Firstly, it’s helpful to get tested for SIBO so we know what we’re dealing with and so that once we have followed a nutritional programme we can retest to see how your levels are changing.
What is the SIBO test?
A SIBO test is a breath test where you collect multiple samples of breath over a three hour period. It measures levels of hydrogen and methane gases which will be produced if bacteria are present in the small intestine.
How can I get tested for SIBO?
To test for SIBO in the UK, you can try requesting a SIBO breath test from a GI consultant (requires referral by a GP) or, you can order one from me, a BANT registered Nutritional Therapist.
I've saved a story to my Instagram stories here to show you how the SIBO breath test works. It is very simple to complete at home. You can find a list of all the clinical test options I provide, including prices here. Full instructions on how to prepare for your SIBO test and complete the test are provided.
If you suspect SIBO, book a free call and we can chat further and make sure SIBO testing is the right test for you. You may also enjoy reading 'What Causes SIBO' and what to do if you test positive for SIBO here.
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