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?
You've probably found this blog post because you're struggling with constipation and it's making your life really miserable. The pain from being backed up can include back ache, cramps, bloating and it can impact on your mood. You want to get to the bottom of the problem and feel better, right?
Many of the people I've worked with over the years have come to me with painful constipation and have been offered laxatives as a solution. Sadly, it's a temporary fix and unlikely to solve the root issues at play.
In this post, I'm going to share the 3 main causes of constipation and I'll explain what you can do to start to feel better. Sound good? Let's go!
1. The foods you're eating
Something we've grown up hearing is that you should eat bran when you're constipated. Don't do it! It's actually really difficult to digest and possibly going to make things down there worse.
So what should you actually be eating?
2. Stress is a major cause of constipation
Not many of us are aware of how our bodies work and how in sync our brains are with our digestive system. There is something called the "gut-brain-axis (GBA)" which is a two-way communication between our brain and our enteric nervous system, (neurons in our gut that control the function of our gastrointestinal tract). Basically what this means is that when you're stressed, your digestive system reacts.
You might not think you're stressed right now, but your body has been living in fight or flight mode for a year during the pandemic. You might be working from home and trying to juggle home schooling, but if you're a key worker and have been on the front lines, that is a whole other level of stress.
And what happens is the body "holds on to" waste because of the stress (the bowel is unable to relax fully) and we risk the reabsorption of toxins from the colon back into circulation in the body.
So what can you do to reduce stress in the gut?
Try the above strategies, which can all be used together, and I bet you'll feel calmer and see a change in you gut sooner than you might think.
3. You've got high levels of a certain bacteria linked to constipation.
If you keep getting constipated or you've had life long constipation, and haven't found a solution yet, it could be that you have a particular bacteria (Methanobrevibacter smithii) taking up too much real estate in your large intestine. It's associated with IBS-constipation (IBS-C) because it produces methane, which delays gut transit time. This can be investigated by completing a comprehensive stool test.
Stool tests can be carried out through a qualified nutritional therapist (like me!) and then after a thorough analysis, we'd work on addressing the balance of bacteria in your gut. This would be through dietary changes and tailored supplementation advice.
I hope you've found this blog post helpful and there's some things in here that you've not tried yet. It can be so hard to see the wood for the trees when you're in pain and no one is listening to you. But I urge you to try some of the options I've listed, because they will help heal your gut for good rather just than temporarily easing your suffering.
If you're suffering from constipation, there is light at the end of the tunnel! “Ease your gut, beat the bloat” is my new 5 week programme where we work towards your optimal gut health. Email me to join the waiting list for the next start date.
Need a little more support? Get in touch with me about working 1-2-1 over 90 days or book in for comprehensive digestive stool testing.
Living with tummy pain shouldn't be considered normal. I want to change the way we look at our digestive health. Find out more about my work and passion for helping you feel better over on Instagram!
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.
Nutritional Therapy helps identify the underlying causes of IBS symptoms and personalises a gut-healing plan that addresses:
You can also find out more about IBS here. I think you'll find it refreshing!
Nutritional Therapy works alongside medical treatment and should not be misconstrued as a replacement for medicine. I always work with your GP to ensure you get the best support and results. I can also write to your GP if necessary and/or advise you of tests available on the NHS so you can discuss further with your GP (if you are in the UK).
Please be aware that IBS must be diagnosed by a medical doctor so that serious disease can be ruled out. And if you experience any of the following please consult your doctor urgently:
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