Trillions of bacteria live in your digestive tract and intestines. This group of microorganisms is called the microbiome or gut bacteria. The microbiome can be found in the pockets of the intestines. According to studies, gut bacteria could help with digestion. They improve the ability of the intestines to churn food and absorb nutrients.
Gut bacteria are also believed to contribute to keeping one’s heart in good condition as it contributes to the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol in the blood. What’s more, medical researchers have found that gut bacteria help lower the risks of diabetes and control blood sugar. In contrast, too much gut bacteria may not be beneficial as it may trigger weight gain, bowel diseases, or even cancer.
To address issues linked to gut bacteria, many individuals go to hospitals and request gut bacteria tests. If you’re looking to take that route as well, read on to learn and understand what gut bacteria tests are and how they work.
What Is A Gut Bacteria Test?
Also referred to as a gut microbiome test or a bacteria gut test, this is a method of analyzing the status and health of the gut bacteria in a person’s system. Basically, it involves looking at the amount of bacteria living in someone’s gut. In doing so, doctors would know what kind of bacteria is dominant in the gastrointestinal tract and intestines.
In the context of food intolerances, the analysis of gut bacteria through tests such as those conducted by ALCAT laboratory can provide valuable insights into the relationship between gut health and specific food intolerances. By understanding the composition and balance of gut bacteria, individuals can make informed choices to support their digestive health.
Here are some of the ways that gut bacteria can be tested:
This gut bacteria test analyzes a person’s excrements, which would provide data regarding one’s overall microbiome health. It can be used to check your microbe profile and gut type and get other information about gut health and bacteria. This test comes in different forms.
The Transit Time Test
This looks into the digestive process of an individual from the time they consume food up to the time of excretion. Ideally, the whole thing should only take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. If it takes much longer, there’s likely a problem with your gut bacteria health.
This has to do with the number of a person’s bowel moments within a day. Although this would vary from person to person, three times a day is considered normal. A higher frequency could mean constipation problems, and it may also indicate malabsorption, toxin deposits, and an imbalanced gut bacterial population. In addition, this could serve as proof of their condition if the person suspects that they have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and other gastrointestinal infections.
Basically, this takes into account the appearance and texture of a stool sample as well as the presence of particular materials in it. The following are observed in this test:
- Color: The color of the stool can indicate whether it’s ‘healthy’ or not. Ideally, one’s stool should be brown. While certain foods may darken its color, brown stool is considered a sign of a healthy digestive tract. Darker colored stools generally mean that something isn’t right. Blood, bile production, and low iron levels may cause dark stools.
- Mucus: The presence of slimy mucus could be a sign of swelling in the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, it may indicate gut infection and inflammatory bowel diseases. Generally, mucus in stool shows that the harmful bacteria are overpowering the good bacteria in one’s gut.
- Floating: Diet-induced gas usually causes floating stool. In other cases, this can be attributed to lactose intolerance, bowel infections, and other diseases in the internal organs such as the pancreas and gall bladder.
- Undigested food: While some types of food are tough to digest, nutritious food contributes to good health and is easily processed by the digestive system. With that said, the constant appearance of undigested food particles may indicate intestinal inflammation, intestinal enzyme efficiency, poor absorption of nutrients, and adverse gut health.
This noninvasive, widely available test analyzes the methane or hydrogen from what a person breathes out after drinking a water and glucose solution. Although it can be used to diagnose SIBO, it doesn’t provide comprehensive information about the gut bacteria’s overgrowth in a person’s gastrointestinal tract.
Small Intestine Aspirate And Fluid Culture
In this test, the doctor passes an endoscope down a person’s throat toward the digestive tract. Then, it proceeds to the small intestines. A fluid sample will be drawn from there and then tested in a lab. Doctors will assess the fluid sample for general gut bacteria health and their potential overgrowth.
Gut bacteria have long been known to be instrumental in digestion. They also help in keeping the heart and brain healthy and enhancing immunity. However, gut bacteria may be a challenge to one’s health at times, so it becomes necessary to carry out certain tests. Their results would then be used to improve a person’s gut health.
If you’re looking for ways to check your gut bacteria, you may refer to the points mentioned above. You may consider going for stool sample tests and intestinal fluid tests for optimal results. Regardless, you should pick whichever you believe would give you adequate information about your gut health. Your doctor may be able to help you make the right decision.