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How to assess your gut health

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With the rise of at-home testing kits, hundreds of supplements, drinks and food products available to buy over the counter – there are many ways you can improve overall health of your gut. But how do you know how healthy your gut is? Our expert Gastroenterologists, Nutrition Services and JAG-accredited Endoscopy service offer a range of tests to assess your gut health.

Signs it’s time to assess your gut health

Understanding gut health is crucial for overall well-being, as it affects digestion, immunity, and even your mental health. Changes to your gut microbiome (the bacteria, fungi, viruses, and their genes, that naturally live inside us), can be caused by a variety of factors such as stress, poor diet and lack of sleep/physical activity.

Look out for any of these signs of gut disturbances:

• Gas and bloating
• Constipation and/or diarrhoea
• Heartburn
• Mood changes such as low mood or anxiety
• Frequently getting ill, lowered immunity

1. Keep a food diary

To begin your journey to better gut health, our Nutritionist, Abir Hamza-Goodacre recommends you keep a detailed food diary with symptoms prior to your initial Nutritional Therapy or GP appointment. “This will help us to identify any dietary patterns that may impact your gut health,” says Abir.

“Tracking your food intake alongside symptoms such as bloating, gas, or irregular bowel movements can reveal potential triggers or intolerances which we can use to map out your personalised nutritional programme.” Consuming lots of ultra-processed foods can increase harmful ‘bad’ bacteria from flourishing in your gut, so it’s important to reflect on this too. Discover our Nutrition Services here.

2. Stool Analysis

You’ll likely be asked to provide a stool (poo) sample by your doctor if you speak to them about your gut health symptoms, or you can order an at-home microbiome kit to find out which microbes live in your gut, including fungi, viruses and bacteria. Stool analysis also provides information about how functioning your digestive system is and how well it absorbs essential nutrients.

3. Breath Tests

A hydrogen breath test is a simple way of determining whether you might have the following gut issues: small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or lactose intolerance. Our Gastroenterologists will provide you with the simple, non-invasive breath test kit for you to complete it at home. Once completed, we’ll advise your Clinician of the results and they’ll discuss a personalised treatment plan with you, or you can refer yourself to our nutrition services.

4. Blood Tests

Another effective way to assess your gut health is by having a blood test to check if inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is present. If it is, your blood test will show an increased white blood cell count, which may indicate inflammation. Blood tests can also highlight any important markers of nutrition, such as proteins suggesting inflammation, or vitamin B12 or iron deficiencies. All of these markers will allow our expert Consultants to assess your digestive function.

If you think your gut health symptoms are being caused by a gluten allergy, blood tests will help determine whether you may have coeliac disease.

5. Endoscopic procedures

Our purpose-built, JAG-accredited endoscopy suite, located in our Ambulatory Care Unit (ACU), offers a wide range of camera-led procedures including:

Gastroscopy (upper endoscopy)
Colonoscopy
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

These procedures allow direct visuals of your gastrointestinal tract. These diagnostic procedures can confirm or rule out symptoms such as ulcers, polyps, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). They also provide insights into your gut health.

Want an assessment of your gut?

To access our Hydrogen Breath Test and blood and stool tests, you can book an appointment via our online booking tool with one of our expert Gastroenterologists. You can also access our Nutrition Services, or to find out how to access our endoscopy service, get in touch using our online enquiry form or contact our Private Patient Team via LiveChat or on 01580 363158.

Published on 19 June 2024