Gut health is something we discuss a lot in the paleosphere, and is critically important to our overall health. My question is, what does gut health actually look like? How do we know if we have a problem or not, or how to tell if we are getting better?
How much gas should there be and what should it smell like? I have read reports of there being less odor and less of it total. That said, prebiotic foods get digested by gut bacteria and produce gas as a result, and it seems to be paleo conventional wisdom that feeding the right gut bacteria is a good thing. What are the warning signs here? Primarily smell?
What does a healthy BM look like? Diarrhea seems like an obvious warning sign, but "constipation" is less clear to me. I prefer harder movements that don't require any wiping, but is this actually healthy? Plant intake seems to alter the composition more than anything else - how digested should/can most plant matter be?
Indigestion is another warning sign, though I don't experience that myself. Cramps would be another one.
What are your thoughts and experiences? Is there any solid research about this? Thanks in advance everyone!
asked byWill (911)
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on January 18, 2012
at 10:39 PM
Having come from unhealthy gut, I can tell you what I notice and count as improvements
1) no digestive pain. That is, no pressure in the stomach or upper GI, no shooting pains in the lower GI, no painfully constipated BMs.
2) reasonable consistency. On the Bristol stool chart, Type 3 or 4 are best. No undigested bits. No-wipe types, as long as they're easy to pass and not an indication of diminished bowel peristalsis, are fine; so are those that require a quick wipe.
3) minimal, non-odorous gas. I find burping means I'm short on digestive enzymes for the volume of food I just consumed. Probiotics, after the very first initial adjustment, don't result in extra gas for me in any way. Odors correlate with dysbiosis for me.
4) clear fulfillable urges. I don't necessarily think one needs a BM every single day, although i do think daily is typical. Your body should say 'go', you excuse yourself, and you're done in five minutes. I still find myself revisiting multiple times a morning, so I've got some work to do, but that seems to be the most logical evolutionarily.