There is a vast array of research today that looks at the link between gut flora and various diseases, health conditions and even proper brain function. But how do you actually know if your gut flora is in balance or out of balance? In this article, we will go over how you can keep track of whether your gut flora is in balance and provide tips on Stig Bengmark’s three simple gut health tests.
The gut flora is involved in a number of important bodily functions – including the fact that about 70 per cent of our immune system is in the gut flora. Balanced gut flora is also important for the gut to feel healthy and for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
Everyone’s gut flora is unique, so there is no such thing as optimal gut flora. However, there are some symptoms to look out for that may indicate that your gut flora is not completely in balance.
A person with balanced gut flora typically has a well-functioning digestive system and regular, problem-free bowel movements. If the balance of the gut flora is disrupted, it usually shows up as various types of digestive problems. But there are also other symptoms that can signal an imbalance in the gut flora. To find out how healthy your gut flora is, it may help to ask the following questions:
1. Jerusalem artichoke test – Jerusalem artichokes are very rich in a healthy but indigestible type of fibre called fructans. One way to test your gut flora is therefore to eat a raw, medium-sized Jerusalem artichoke (slice in salad or put in your smoothie) and see how your stomach reacts. If you do not experience any intestinal discomfort or other symptoms, you can be relatively certain that you have a well-functioning gut flora.
2. The corn or blueberry test – Under normal conditions, it takes about 20 hours for food to make its way through the entire digestive system. Yesterday’s lunch should therefore come out between 8:00-9:00 am the next morning and dinner around 12:00-1:00 pm the next day. You can measure your gut transit time by eating blueberries or corn and waiting to see how long it takes to come out.
3. Kebnekaise test – With a well-functioning gut flora, it is normal to fill the toilet with larger bowel movements twice a day. If you are producing enough faeces, a small “mountain peak” should stick out above the water surface and the toilet can easily become overloaded.