10 Clues that a Gut Microbiome Imbalance is behind your Disturbed Digestion
It’s not uncommon for people with dodgy digestion to think that it’s normal. Perhaps it’s normal for you. But when we compare what’s going on for you with healthy digestion and patterns of health, it can help to pinpoint the cause of your digestive problems.
You are probably familiar with the phrase “We are what we eat” but time has shown that this is somewhat simplistic. Not only are we what we eat, we are what we eat, digest, absorb and assimilate! When the digestion isn’t working optimally, all kinds of things can go wrong. The list below outlines the most common indicators that suggest you could benefit from support to get your troubled tummy sorted.
Top Reasons for Disturbed Digestion:
- You don’t feel well. When the gut bacteria are out of balance the signals they create can affect your mood, energy and general sense of well being.
- Your bowels are either too frequent, too infrequent or a combination of both. Bacteria have an enormous impact on gut motility. Normal stool is soft but formed, from 1 to 3 movements daily. While stool form can vary, it should generally fall between Type 3 & 5 on the Bristol Stool Chart, below.
Image from Cabot Health, Bristol Stool Chart / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
3. You get bloated after eating. Having to loosen your trousers or consciously hold in your belly suggests you’ve got an accumulation of gas in your intestines. That might be uncomfortable too
4. You burp a lot. Bacterial gases are responsible for that. Sometimes you might have #5 as well
5. Reflux is a problem. Maybe you’re taking acid-reducing medication (antacids or omeprazole/losec). Perhaps that helped a little bit, but the problem is still there.
6. You’ve been diagnosed with iron and/or vitamin B12 deficiency. This is especially significant if you are not a vegetarian, as you are expected to NOT have a problem with levels of these nutrients.
7. You feel better off without wheat or gluten. Perhaps you like these foods, but they don’t like you! Perhaps you’ve decided that food is not your friend. Some people can pinpoint problem foods (common culprits are beans/legumes, cabbage, onions, some fruits and dairy products.
8. You get brain fog. Bacterial by-products can do this. So-called “Leaky Gut” (also more likely in bacterial overgrowth) can make this worse – particularly after eating some foods (this can vary from person to person, as bacteria have different dietary preferences!)
9. Weight management is an issue. Either you’re underweight and find it hard to gain, or you’re the opposite.
10. Your problems started (or got worse) after a bout of tummy bug (gastro).
Do You Tick One or More of those Boxes – What Now?
All these symptoms indicate disturbed digestion – which could mean you have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). You don’t need to have all of them – many people just have one or two symptoms. And this list is by no means exhaustive. There are lots of other health issues linked to poor digestion.
Digestive Testing Options Available at the Auckland Gut Clinic
Hydrogen-methane Breath Tests
Comprehensive Microbiome Stool Testing
Intestinal Hyperpermeability Test
Lactose Intolerance Test
Urinary Organic Acids Test
We strongly recommend that if this is your first hydrogen-methane breath test, that you complete the “gold trio” of tests, i.e., challenges with Lactulose, Glucose, and then Fructose. These three test can be done on alternate days over one week, such as Mon-Weds-Fri. Sample analysis provides your clinician with the most accurate information regarding the possible role of bacterial metabolism in your digestive symptoms. Tests can be conducted in the privacy of your home, or in our Auckland clinic. Watch our videos below. Note that sample collection for Fructose is the same as Lactulose (samples very 20 minutes for 3 hours).
NOTE: Lactulose and Lactose are used to test different things. Please check you are ordering the correct test.
The MetaBiome™ Test is a non-invasive test that is used to sample an individual’s gut microflora (the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your gut) for non-diagnostic purposes. It can help gain valuable insight into your gut health.
Intestinal permeability (leaky gut) can be the link between gut imbalances and systemic illness. This test can provide direction to heal the gut and address your health concerns.
This test is a 6-hour urine collection, done at home.
Analysis of breath samples: collected before and after a (control) lactulose challenge, then a lactose challenge, to establish lactose intolerance.
Similar to Lactose Intolerance, we can also test for Fructose Malabsorption.
Comprehensive Urinary Organic Acids Test | Metabolic Markers in Urine.
Markers include some that are commonly produced by gut bacteria, and some by yeasts. In excess, these can indicate a microbiome-related problem.