Gut Complaint Testing
Whether you are suffering from IBS symptoms, simple or complex health complaints, the health of the gut is the foundation for all health and should be considered first.
Gut Health Test
How do you assess your gut health?
The health of the gut is determined by a delicate balance of gut bacteria, virus and fungi that creates the microbiome.
As this balance becomes disrupted (dysbiosis), ‘bad’ bacteria (and other pathogens) start to proliferate. They ferment on the foods we eat, creating toxic substances; damaging the gut lining; and making the environment conducive to parasitic growth.
The good news is that with appropriate gut health tests we can understand exactly what types of bacteria have overgrown, where it has overgrown and how much damage it has caused. This knowledge enables us to select the most appropriate foods, probiotics, herbs, food supplements to treat the dysbiosis, bringing the gut back to a state of health.
How do you know if you have bacteria in your gut?
A person has about 500-1000 different species of bacteria in their digestive tract. While many of these organisms are beneficial, and even essential for our health there are some ‘bad’ guys lurking around. However, we must remember, they are only harmful if they tip this finely tuned ecosystem out of balance. More on this later.
Many facets of modern life such as stress, not enough sleep, eating processed and sugary foods, and taking antibiotics can all damage our gut health. IBS type symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation and gas are the more obvious signs but an unhappy gut can affect our health in unexpected ways:
- Skin health problems.
- Unexplained weight gain.
- Brain fog and poor memory.
- Sluggish metabolism and low energy.
- Recurring colds and infections.
- Mood swings and depression.
- Sleep disturbances.
Is there a test to check gut health or infection?
Here, at the London Clinic of Nutrition, we use two main types of testing to assess the health of the gut microbiome:
Stool testing is one of the best and most comprehensive gut health tests available. It provides a precise assessment of gastrointestinal health and the gut microbiome. It accurately measures levels of gut bacteria (good & bad), yeast (e.g. candida), parasites; H-Pyloria, and markers for inflammation, immune function and digestive capacity.
In our experience, the best stool tests use qPCR DNA testing, which offers superior sensitivity compared with tests that involve cultivation in a petri dish - as not all microbes present will grow in a petri dish and can therefore be missed. Here at the London Clinic of Nutrition, we carefully select the best stool tests available that provide us with actionable markers and ideally only require 1 stool sample.
Small Intestinal Bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) testing
SIBO a condition in which the bacteria normally present in the gut, start to proliferate in the small intestine. As they feed off carbohydrates from food, they create fermentation gases such as methane and hydrogen – causing a large array of gut-related health problems.
The SIBO test an easy, non-invasive test that measures gases: hydrogen (H2) and methane (CH4). The breath test usually uses glucose and/or lactulose as substrates to diagnose SIBO. For best results, we often recommend testing for both of these gases.
Does the test cover my whole digestive system?
A comprehensive stool test, provides a wide range of markers that give us a great insight into your overall gastrointestinal health. We will look at markers relating to gut integrity, immunity, enzyme function and beneficial and pathogenic microbes. A SIBO test on the other hand provides insight into one area in the digestive system - your small intestine.
Here at the London Clinic of Nutrition, all of our practitioners work under the functional medicine model. This framework allows us to determine the root cause of the illness. For best results, we will consider how your genetics, environment and lifestyle interact as a whole system to diagnose and treat based on patterns of dysfunction and imbalance.
Based on scientific evidence, we now know that species of bacteria within the microbiome are not simply ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Rather, how microbes participate in health or illness is dependent on their abundance in the overall ecosystem and how they relate to one another. A perfectly healthy-looking microbiome might be doing things that aren’t healthy for an individual. One person’s healthy microbiome might not be healthy in another context. So, when investigating a person’s gut microbiome, it’s all about putting test results into context; looking for patterns and evaluating how a particular ecosystem relates to the health of the host (our patients). This type of approach is the most effective way to treat and heal the gut holistically.
Is a stool (poo) sample part of a gut health test?
It depends on the type of test your practitioner feels is appropriate and necessary for your particular situation. Due to the complex pathophysiology of gut conditions, the testing method treatment plan will be different for everyone. Therefore, it is important to approach it with a holistic, in-depth and comprehensive support. We would always advise that you consult one of our practitioners at our clinic. Get in touch for a complimentary discovery call to discuss your health concerns and how to match you with the most suitable practitioners.
Can I get a gut health test on the NHS?
Comprehensive gut test isn’t currently available on the NHS. Mainly because in the primary health care it isn’t generally accepted that gut health influences the development of chronic diseases.
If your doctor suspects a particular gut condition or infection, they may refer you for a specific stool test to investigate for blood, parasites and other microbes. Some hospitals may do breath tests but for most patients, that’s the full extent of the gut tests available. In fact, according to the current NICE guidelines, testing gut health isn’t necessary for the diagnosis of IBS.
Therefore, a private stool test is the only option for a comprehensive gut health assessment.
Gut health diet
A diet plan for gut health is different for everyone, depending on your health, genetics and lifestyle. Therefore, we recommend that you speak to one of our practitioners for a tailored and personalised plan for you. However, there are some basics you can do to kick-start your journey to a healthy gut:
- Encourage diversity of the gut microbiome by eating a varied and fibre rich diet that is low in grains, low sugar and processed foods, high in protein and gluten and dairy-free if possible.
- Eat the rainbow! Your gut loves getting a cocktail of plant chemicals (phytonutrients) from different coloured fruits and vegetables. Try to eat 7 different plant food a day, make sure to include a wide range of colours.
The London Clinic of Nutrition is the first clinic of its kind in the UK, offering a full holistic experience. We pride ourselves as the biggest functional medicine practice in Europe. We combine industry-leading nutrition and functional medicine expertise, alongside the latest in-house testing, so we can attend to all your health needs in one trip. We have built a reputation for ‘treating the untreatable’. We specialise in Lyme disease, autoimmune disease, gut health, hormone health and unexplained illness. There are too many success stories to mention but some of these can be seen on our Google reviews and testimonials here.