It may sound gross but how often do you pay attention to your stool? Many may not realize it but your stool can actually provide great insight into your gut health and ultimately your overall health. It is important to pay attention to changes in stool color, consistency, shape and frequency because it may help indicate digestive issues and microorganism imbalances.
Trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi and viruses are found in the body. You will find them residing in numerous places in the body, including our mouth, saliva, skin, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, conjunctiva, uterus, and the list keeps growing. Because it is so widespread, it inherently plays a role in all aspects of our health.
It is essential to understand that everyone’s microbiome is different. Research suggests this diversity may be determined by different factors, most of which we can control, such as diet, environment, lifestyle, antibiotic use, genetics and exposure to organisms early in life.
Overgrowth of bad organisms may occur when good organisms are impaired by some of the factors we mentioned earlier. Some tips for maintaining healthy bowel movements and improving gut flora include:
Eat a diet high in fiber. Fiber helps add bulk to the stool and prevents and relieves constipation while also improving your immune system and reducing inflammation. Some foods include: oatmeal, apples, cherries, broccoli, beans, almonds, bananas.
Consider adding “prebiotic” and “probiotic”-rich foods. Prebiotics feed healthy bacteria, whearas probiotics are live bacteria found in fermented foods. Prebiotic foods include garlic, leeks, dandelion greens, onions, asparagus and bananas. Probiotic foods include miso, tempeh, kefir, yogurt, sourkraut, kombucha.
Exercise regularly. Exercise stimulates intestinal movements and lowers transit time in the large intestine, avoiding hard and dry stools.
A stool DNA test is a very helpful tool because it determines quantities of good and bad bacteria, viruses, fungi, worms and parasites. Additionally it provides gastrointestinal health markers including inflammation, immune health, intestinal permeability (zonulin), pancreatic function, among others.
If you’re someone struggling with chronic stomach issues, bloating, alternating constipation/diarrhea, acid reflux, chronic and acute gastroenteritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), autoimmune disease, intestinal permeability, you may benefit from a comprehensive look into your microbiome and intestinal health.