ESTIMATED READING TIME 4 MINUTES
Did you know your poo can tell a story?
The contents of your poo can reveal how your gut is functioning, the types of microorganisms living there, the substances they’re producing and whether the cells in your intestines are healthy.
If you’ve ever wondered what your gut may be trying to say to you, read on to learn more about the fascinating world of your poo!
Bowel Cancer has been in the news recently, its profile having been raised by the late Dame Deborah James. An estimated 40,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year. Many of these had no idea they were affected and had put their symptoms down to other conditions such as IBS.
Dame Deborah spearheaded Bowel Cancer UK’s ‘Never too Young’ campaign, raising awareness of the incidence of bowel cancer in younger people. According to Bowel Cancer UK, more than 2,400 people under the age of 50 are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK every year.
It’s really important to pay attention to any signs and symptoms telling you something is amiss in your gut. If bowel cancer is detected early, treatment outcomes are improved.
The signs of bowel cancer include a persistent change in bowel habits, ongoing fatigue, unexplained weight loss, a pain or lump in your belly, and blood in your poo.
However, even symptoms often considered trivial such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, wind or abdominal pain are messages from your gut and signs it’s trying to tell you something is wrong.
Creating a healthy environment in your bowel is the first step to reducing the likelihood of cancer developing. A heathy gut doesn’t provide an opportunity for cancer to thrive. Ensuring your digestion is in tip-top form can therefore decrease your risk of bowel cancer.
Your microbiome is the collection of bacteria resident in your gut, and each person’s is different. Imbalances in this population of bacteria adversely affect digestion. Scientists discovered the bacteria living in the guts of people affected by bowel cancer were significantly different to those found in the general population 1. Certain species of bacteria known to increase inflammation were more numerous in bowel cancer patients.
Your poo doesn’t only contain waste products from the food you’ve eaten, it carries with it traces of the bacteria resident in your gut. It also contains the remains of substances secreted by your body used to digest your food and chemicals released by your immune system. Much of your immune system is found in your gut.
Your poo can reveal how well you’re digesting your food and whether your body is producing the enzymes needed for effective digestion. It will tell you the balance of healthy to unhealthy bacteria in your gut and if your gut has any unwelcome visitors like yeasts or parasites capable of impairing digestive function. It can indicate whether your gut bacteria are manufacturing the types of chemicals tending to increase inflammation, a risk factor for chronic disease. Your poo contains clues as to the health of your gut lining and can reveal if it’s become too permeable, setting the stage for allergies and autoimmune diseases. Finally, testing your poo can indicate the presence of rogue bacteria like H pylori, responsible for stomach and intestinal inflammation.
By testing for substances produced by the cells lining your intestines, your poo can disclose whether your immune system is on high alert and producing substances raising inflammation. Cancer has a better chance of developing where intestinal cells have been damaged due to ongoing uncontrolled inflammation.
Tests will also look for tiny particles of blood in your poo undetectable with the naked eye. In other words, a poo test will provide you with an early warning system before cancer has developed sufficiently to produce symptoms. Because of this, it’s a great way of preventing ill-health before it happens.
An estimated half of all cases of bowel cancer are linked to lifestyle factors and therefore preventable. With a healthy digestive system fundamental to good health, it couldn’t be more important to make sure your long-suffering gut is performing at its best.
It’s easy to test your poo. You simply collect a small sample, post it off to the laboratory in special protective packaging and that’s it. Your therapist will be on hand to help you interpret your results once they’re back.
Unless the causes of your ill-health are discovered, any treatment can only be guesswork, meaning testing is extremely helpful. I’ll work with you every step of the way with practical dietary, supplement and lifestyle recommendations personalised to your needs to support your bowel health. Contact Embracing Nutrition to find out more about stool testing.
Are you concerned about the health of your bowel? Why not book a free 15 minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.
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