Should You Get A Stool Analysis? + My Results
Oh yeah, we’re sh*t talking’ today. I’m sorry… I had to. Dirty humor calls my name.
In all seriousness though, your poop can say a lot about you. This is often a taboo topic, and when I consult with people they preface their digestive symptoms with “I know this is gross but…” Let’s get one thing straight; poop is gross. We all know it. But when it comes to your health there is no reason to be ashamed of bodily functions. In fact I propose we be more aware and open about our extremities as it’s a big window into our insides. Let’s just be a little less open about it at dinner, ya feel me?
If you follow me on Instagram, I mentioned I got my stool results back. I even shared my results, and I’ll be reiterating them later on in this post. I’ll also be interpreting the results and what I’m doing about them. So with that I need to say, I’m not a doctor. Not even close. I don’t have the credentials to read and interpret other people’s lab tests and I can’t tell you what your results mean. But I can share my results and how my training and research played into interpreting them for myself. These tips and tricks may be applicable to many but not all.
So what is a stool test? No it’s not the classic “does it sink or float” test (but those do tell us something specifically with how fats are digested). A stool test is a comprehensive analysis of gut health markers, bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. If you’re someone who is latent with digestive discomfort, fatigue, skin issues, food intolerances, or really anything that ails you I recommend getting one. The gut is where most disease manifests. Hormone issues? Start in the gut. Breakouts? Start in the gut. Autoimmunity? Start in the gut.
So wouldn’t you want to know what’s going on in there? And before jumping on that candida or parasite cleanse you found online it would be nice to know if you even have candida! Spoiler, we all have candida (and H-pylori) it’s when there is an overgrowth that problems manifest.
A lot of people are harboring parasites, opportunistic bacteria, fungi and viruses that are stealing their nutrients, compromising the gut lining and depleting their energy. Once again, we all have bacteria, parasites and fungi but there are certain ones we don’t want hanging around or maybe there’s just an imbalance. For most of the people I work with cleaning up the gut transforms their lives and it’s a great starting point. Working for a Functional Medicine Practitioner I’ve seen an alarming amount of parasitic infections and know how powerful treating them can be towards health. Even if you think you’re symptoms don’t relate to gut infection, they still could be.
Regarding tests, some are more in-depth than others. They usually require a practitioner to order them for you, yet I’ve heard there are some on the market that can be ordered directly. I work for a Functional Medicine Practitioner and he ordered me the GI MAP through Diagnostic Solutions. Through my research it’s one of the best stool analyses for home use + my doctor strongly reinforced it. He’s also my boss…so I do what he says lol.
As mentioned, the GI MAP tests for opportunistic organisms, normal flora, parasites, fungi, intestinal health markers and even anti-biotic resistance strains. I wont be sharing the PDF of my results, but if you would like to see a sample report or lean more click here.
So without further ado, let’s chat about the standouts from my results.
I have no parasites, fungus, virus or opportunistic bacterial overgrowth.
PRAISE JESUS. But low key, I was sad. I was banking all my symptoms on a parasite. Womp womp.
Elastase is a pancreatic enzyme that’s been show through research to be a golden marker for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency when low. The exocrine function of the pancreas includes secreting enzymes to break down protein, fat and carbohydrates from our food. When these levels are low, food is often left undigested in the intestines to rancidify, putrefy and ferment. This can create much of the bloating, gas, irregular stools and food intolerances we’ve all experienced in some point or another. Our pancreatic function naturally decreases with age, but I’m 22 years old and shouldn’t be experiencing THIS level of insufficiency. So how do we help our pancreas along? Taking a complete pancreatic enzyme is the first step; this will help break down your food. But more times than one, poor pancreatic enzyme secretion is due to low stomach acid. In order for those enzymes to be triggered in the first place, a very acidic chyme of broken down food must enter the small intestine. It is the intense acidity of the chyme that triggers a hormonal message to the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes. If the stomach does not have proper acidity in the first place (which most Americans struggle with low stomach acid) than the chyme will also lack acidity and you won't secrete as many enzymes as you would like. Another easy solution: take a Betaine HCL supplement. If that’s too much right out the gate, try ACV or lemon juice in 2-4 oz of water right before a meal. In my case I’m taking both HCL and a pancreatic enzyme. Keep in mind; because pancreatic enzyme secretion has a lot to do with the small intestine, low elastase could also be an indicator of small intestinal damage (like ulceration) or infection (like SIBO).
Low Secretory IgA
Also known as sIgA, secretory Immunoglobulin Antibodies are the intestinal line of defense. Protecting us from bacteria, parasites and viruses (which is why I’m surprised I had no infections), sIgA lives within our intestinal mucosal membrane. As mentioned this mucosal membrane is protective against pathogens, yet it also hosts our micro biome and has the ability to regulate pro-inflammatory responses. You NEED sIgA in order to have a functioning immune system. Think of the membrane as a slippery barrier within your intestines, lungs, skin, eyes (and private areas) where it houses all of the good bacteria, protecting the rest of your body from allergens and pathogens. SIgA itself even helps to increase good bacteria. 80% of our immune system resides in the gut, so having little to no mucosal membrane can set off a host of issues. Those with low sIgA are more likely to have intestinal membrane damage/dysfunction, food intolerances, IBS/IBD, chronic gut infections, past antibiotic use and HPA deregulation (trouble with stress). Ways we can build our sIgA and immunity back: fermented foods, colostrum, collagen, bone broth, probiotics, L Glutamine, MSM, gut healing herbs (slippery elm, marshmallow root, licorice root, fenugreek), cabbage juice, mushrooms high in beta glucans, and most of all a diet free of potential allergens. I recommend the AIP diet to start.
Those with high sIgA may be showing signs of an acute infection, acute stress, heavy smoking, heavy alcohol consumption or infections within the teeth/mouth. A raised level of sIgA is usually built up due to an infection, so GI pathogens must be ruled out. Usually additional testing or investigation is needed to determine what is triggering a heightened immune response. This is different for everyone, but by getting a GI panel/ SIBO test you can at least rule out GI infections. For the most part, stick to an AIP diet to eliminate potential food triggers.
High “Normal” Gut Flora
With all of this talk about infections, remember that bacteria and other organisms are supposed to be within our bodies. We coexist as one. That being said, even normal non-pathogenic gut bacteria can get out of balance. I had high levels of Bacteroides Fragilis, Enterococcus spp and Escherichia spp. Good or not, there is still bacterial imbalance here. Due to my low sIgA levels it’s only normal to have bacteria out of balance. I also took massive doses of antibiotics as a child, smoked, ate like shit, drank a lot and was under tremendous stress. That’s a recipe for microbiota disaster. I am on an herbal protocol to eradicate high levels of this bacteria for 60 days, and then will focus on rebuilding once the “killing” phase is over. High levels of any bacteria can cause bloating, gas, digestive discomfort, joint pain, food sensitivities and more. It also is a main factor in my final test result…
High Beta- Glucuronidase
I spent a whole night googling this. I had never heard of it. And the very first thing that came up in conjunction with this result was…..cancer. AHH!! Can you feel my freak out?! I was then calmed by several of my friends and family members who were concerned for my sanity after a nightlong google binge, and started to collect more data. B- Glucurononidase is an enzyme produced by bacteria within the GI track and can be correlated to high levels of normal gut flora. DING DING DING! Light bulb moment, and if you read through the last point you’ll understand why. You can also have high levels of B-Glucuronidase due to other bacterial imbalances. Circling back to the cancer thing, there is a correlation between high levels of this enzyme and colon cancer. But this is not an ultimatum. What I’m really concerned about is how these high enzyme levels are impacting my hormones. I won’t dive too deep into the science, but your liver through a whole host of Phase I and Phase II conjugation pathways packages toxins and hormones up in order to be eliminated. Those packages are then excreted into bile where they will eventually leave via your poop. Lovely picture I know. However, B-Glucuronidase knows exactly how to undo all of that pretty packaging to let your hormones and carcinogens run free! And when I say run free, I mean this enzyme dislodges the toxins and estrogens from your feces and allows them to recirculate throughout the body. So even if you’ve done a million cleanses and detox programs, this b-glucuronidase can undo it. It gets to the toxins before they even leave the body. This can cause estrogen dominance and put a hefty burden on the liver. Ways to help: take a high dose of calcium-d-glucarate which can inhibit the enzymes undoing, remove as may forms of environmental estrogens and endocrine disrupters as possible (plastics, soy, house cleaner, laundry detergent, beauty products, tap water) and follow a clean paleo/AIP style diet high in green leafy vegetables.
That’s a wrap! Those are the highlights of my stool analysis and hopefully all of my non-stop googling has helped you in some way. If you want to get a stool test find a local Functional Medicine Practitioner or Functional Nutritionist to order you one. I’m serious when I say this completed a piece of the puzzle to my health journey. It’s worth the investment and can give clear direction on next steps towards healing.
Thanks for reading, friends.