Gut health is not just a trendy phrase. Your gut is an integral part of your health, with connections to the immune system, mental health, and hormone regulation. Taking good care of your gut can help you avoid chronic illnesses and autoimmune diseases, in addition to improving your mood. Just knowing how important your gut is doesn’t mean you know where to start. That’s where a gut health test comes into the picture. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could get a more specific idea of what your body needs and how to support it?
Why Your Gut Health Matters?
Your gut is involved in so much more than just digestion. Inside of it is 100 trillion (yes trillion) bacteria who make up the microbiome, which may weigh up to five pounds. Everyone’s microbiome is totally unique, like a fingerprint. It is shaped by the foods you eat, the environment you grew up in, and medications you’ve taken throughout your life!
Your microbiome is versatile and multifaceted, serving different purposes. It can affect your immune system, susceptibility to certain chronic diseases and cancers, and even your mental health. It’s one of the most important systems in the body. The way that you support it, through the foods you eat and the lifestyle you lead, will determine various aspects of your health.
If you can cultivate a healthy microbiome, you can improve many different aspects of your life. A healthy microbiome, that is, one with a good balance between helpful and harmful bacteria, can reduce your risk for chronic disease, improve your mood, and help you get the most nutrients out of each bite of food.
Your Gut Health Impacts Energy
At any given moment, your body is creating and using energy. The rate at which it can create energy depends on the nutrients you’re getting from your foods. Without those nutrients, the mitochondria, which is the part of a cell that produces energy, can’t function properly and processes within the body start to break down.
When you eat, your body breaks down those foods in the gut and takes in nutrients, giving you the energy to do the things you want to do. If your digestive system (and specifically the microbiome) isn’t functioning properly, you are less able to get the nutrients from your meal and that can make you feel sluggish and tired.
If your gut is unhealthy, then large molecules, which should have been absorbed in the gut, are free to move through the digestive system. This causes an inflammatory reaction within the body. Certain foods, like sugars, can even cause bad bacteria to multiply in your system, compounding your digestive issue and creating even more problems down the road.
If your gut is healthy, you’re more likely to have higher energy levels. Having more energy makes you more likely to make healthier lifestyle choices and can have more positive effects on your life overall.
Why You Need a Gut Health Test
If you’ve been struggling with symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, or just want to do everything you can to live a healthy lifestyle, there are tests you can take to get an idea of what’s going on inside your gut. This can help you figure out what to focus on, identify more serious issues that may be underlying, and ensure that you’re taking steps towards your health, rather than harming your body.
A gut health test can help you pinpoint areas for improvement, guiding your health journey, and making it easier to make changes for the better. Because it’s personalized, you can skip some of the trial and error of creating a healthy lifestyle and make targeted changes based on your own body’s needs.
While testing isn’t always 100% accurate it’s still a great step to take in looking out for your gut health. Your gastrointestinal system is so heavily involved in the overall health and wellbeing of your body, why wouldn’t you want to know how best to support it?
There are a lot of options out there for gut health tests, in addition to consulting your doctor. Here are some of the ways you can test your gut health:
- Visual Inspection: check out the visual appearance of your poop, such as color and frequency.
- Try the beet test: eat a meal with raw beets and wait to see how long it takes for the beets to pass—this should usually take 24-48 hours.
- Visit your doctor to get a functional stool analysis.
- Try a lactulose breath test with your doctor.
Everybody can benefit from a gut health test, whether you’ve never had any stomach troubles or you regularly deal with symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. Knowing more about your own body’s microbiome can help shape the way you relate to both your body itself and the food you use to nourish it.