Functional Nutrition Blog

Focusing on gut health and Functional nutrition

Stool Sample Testing 101

Nov 3, 2021 | Gut Health, Nutrition

Today we are talking all about stool sample testing. I know our favorite topic. What I want to talk with you about is a stool sample test? Why would you consider doing it? What does it test for? How are they different? And what could you actually then do with the information? Because that’s kind of the point. That’s the point of most tests. What do you do in order to change the way that you feel once you have the results of any sort of test?. And so many of my clients feel this way. Where we’ve said, I almost wished that the test had come back positive, whatever the test is, even if you don’t actually want it to be positive, at least it would be an answer.

What Is A Stool Sample Test?

Okay, so let’s start by saying this. Not all sample tests are the same. Not all are created equally.  There are different types of technology that are used for different companies that do different testing, I will say, you tend to get what you pay for, when it comes to testing in this particular realm, maybe that will change. But for now, that does tend to be the case, because most of them are not going to be covered by insurance.  Some of them have a chance to be covered, but but not a great chance.  A lot of them don’t even contract with insurance companies. So what you do, let’s start at the beginning. Stool sample test is just what it sounds like. You do it at home, when nature calls. You collect the stool, and you put it in a little collection tube, and you ship it off.

Are All Stool Sample Tests The Same?

The type of testing that you order or have ordered for you depends on what your symptoms are. So sometimes we’re just testing for one thing. Maybe it’s H pylori, maybe some of you have worked with a GI doctor, and you’ve done stool sample testing before to test for things like Giardia, or C diff, or Ecoli.   Some of those more recognizable sorts of bacteria and things that that doctors are sometimes looking for, to match symptoms.  The difference between those tests, and the tests that I do is,  instead of being tested for three or four things, this test has 36 pages of results.

How Do I Know What Is The Right Test For Me?

So here the testing that I use. And it’s very similar. Once you get into the functional gut testing world, they each have their pros and cons.

The different types of tests, no one test is ever going to be perfect.

That goes across the board for the most part.  I think that’s important to say, each test has something that maybe is a little more appealing and something with a little less desirable. Practitioners choice at that point. So if you end up working with somebody and you’re thinking like oh my goodness, is this the right type of testing, ask them questions.  Ask them, why did  you choose this one?  If that feels important to you and let them explain? Because they will have their reasons. Trust me. We all do. So the testing that I use for my clients, this is the type of information that we are gathering. This is why this testing is so huge. It maps out the blueprint.

So if you were a teacher, and you had to go in and teach a class, but you didn’t have any lesson plan for the entire year and you were just sort of like haphazardly teaching whatever came to mind, or whatever you saw on Tik Tok that day, you would teach something, but it wouldn’t be organized.  It definitely wouldn’t be the most efficient or practical. And this is the same approach.

You Don’t Need To Suffer!

So if you’ve been suffering from any sort of discomfort with your GI system, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, not being able to eat without feeling sick, heartburn, migraines, or headaches, joint pain, autoimmune disease, the whole thing, any of those things? I’m sure that you’ve been kind of throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks? Because that’s the starting point. It’s reasonable, it makes sense. You don’t have to do that though. You certainly don’t have to do it forever. To find a starting point, you got to do something to start.  Although this is never going to be perfect. Here you go. This is something that’s actually showing us what’s going on in the gut.

Now, how the hell are you supposed to make decisions about how to get better if you don’t know where you currently are? Think about that for a second. If you have a map, and you know where you’re going, but you don’t know where you are, you certainly can’t get there in an efficient manner. So when we get the test results back from the stool sample testing,  here’s some of what we’re figuring out. What is your digestion like?  Do we see on digested pieces of food in the sample? Are we getting protein fibers? Are we getting vegetable fibers? Do we see that your pancreas is releasing the appropriate amounts of digestive enzymes? If not, why? Is there something else that we’re seeing on the test? Or do we need to ask more questions? Do you have Candida? Do you have H Pylori, there’s a whole panel of helminth infections.  Like worms, I try not to say that word because it freaks people out. But it’s important that gets tested.  Parasites, viral infections, bacterial infections, like Ecoli.

What Are You Testing For?

That’s just like the major stuff.  Then we start talking about the things, that people, when I go over these test results with them have never heard of.  So it’s important to explain, here’s what we’re testing for. But this is why it’s important, short chain fatty acids. That’s a big one. I’ve got a really great blog post on that if you wanted to take a look at short chain fatty acids. Why they are so important, how we feed the bacteria that produces them? And what to actually does that feeding,

This sort of testing will help us understand, essentially, what’s the lining of your gut look like.

  • Do you have leaky gut?  Most of my clients do.
  • How inflamed are you?
  • Do you have any sort of ability to mount an immune response?
  • Do you have any sort of backup happening in the gut to be able to help repair things when they get damaged? Because of course they’re going to.  But do you have the backup?
  • Do you have any systems in place that are maintaining any semblance of gut health? And if the answer is no, that’s one thing. It often is no, these things are not in place.

It often is the good beneficial bacteria that you really need is really lacking.   You’ve got a lot of overgrowth, you’ve got a lot of dysbiosis, a lot of overgrowth of some bacteria and the lack of other bacteria.  Whether those things are good or bad. The point is that it’s imbalanced.

Now We Know Where To Focus!

What this helps us understand is where do we need to focus? Maybe your digestion is just fine. But you have been thinking,  I’ve got to take a digestive enzyme and I have to take a probiotic, I have to take this or that.  If you’re not feeling better this test is going to help us understand exactly why. So it helps us narrow down what we are looking at.   What the priorities need to be and how do we organize the plan of attack to manage those priorities. So it gives you the blueprint.  It helps also connect the dots and allows you to be so validated with all of the feelings physically that you’ve been having.   That you’ve probably been told, “Just take some Tums”

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