Free Gut Test You Can Do at Home

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Your gut transit time is a key indicator of how well your microbiome is doing. Beyond microbiome testing, there’s a free way to run your own gut test at home.

Emerging research is linking our gut transit time and microbiome, in hopes of learning more about what makes the difference between a diseased or healthy gut1.

Gut transit has already been associated with diet, as well as metabolism and heart health1. Here, we show you how to figure out what yours is.

Transit Time

The time it takes for the food you eat to travel through your digestive system and get eliminated as poop is what we call your gut, or bowel, transit time3.

Think of it as how long it takes from dinner to go from table to toilet.

Ideally, transit times should be between 12 to 48 hours.

Ideally, transit times should be between 12 to 48 hours. Variations tells us one of two things:

Too slow (more that 72 hours)

  • A slow transit time is considered a sign of constipation.
  • Slow transit times can be a sign of:
    • Imbalanced gut flora
    • Toxin build-up
    • Higher likelihood of gas and bloating, SIBO and pathogenic infections4,5

Too fast (less than 10 hours)

  • This means food is passing through your digestive system too quickly.
  • Quick transit times suggests you may not be absorbing nutrients from your food properly6.
  • Fast transit times can be a sign of:
    • Nutrient deficiencies
    • Serious conditions, such as IBD, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac Disease or Crohn’s Disease7

How to Do a Gut Test at Home

Whilst a doctor may use dyes that come up on an X-ray, there are more natural options we can use for a gut test at home. All we need is a “food marker” – something that will visibly show up when you poop.

How to test your transit time:

  1. Do not eat your food marker a week before you do the gut test.
  2. Choose your marker:
    • Sweetcorn (one cup cooked)
    • Sesame seeds (2 teaspoons mixed in a glass of water)
    • Red beetroot (one cup raw, or cooked)
  3. Eat it alone, one hour away from other food. Record the time and date.
  4. Lookout for the food marker in your poop. Record the time and date you first pass it.
  5. Find your transit time: calculate the difference between time #3 and #4.
  6. Compare to the ideal range of 12-48 hours.

And don’t just look once! Not all the food may have been eliminated at the first glimpse. So keep watch: those corn kernels could be hanging around hours later.

Something to Remember

  • Certain foods will naturally move more slowly or quickly through your digestive system. This is because transit will depend on their fiber and water content, as well what else is consumed that day (water, caffeine, alcohol, etc.)
  • Many variables affect our transit time, such that’s it’s recommended to do the gut test three times at different time-points, to collect an average.

References

  1. Flint HJ, Scott KP, Louis P, et al. The role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2012;9:577–89. DOI: 10.1038/nrgastro.2012.156pmid 

  2. Asnicar FLeeming ERDimidi E, et al. Blue poo: impact of gut transit time on the gut microbiome using a novel marker.
  3. Lee, Y. Y., Erdogan, A., & Rao, S. S. C. (2014). How to Assess Regional and Whole Gut Transit Time With Wireless Motility Capsule. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 20(2), 265–270

  4. Choi, C. H., & Chang, S. K. (2015). Alteration of Gut Microbiota and Efficacy of Probiotics in Functional Constipation. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 21(1), 4–7

  5. Bures, J., et al. (2010). Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth syndrome. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG, 16(24), 2978–2990

  6. Roy, S., Akramuzzaman, S., Akbar, M. (1991). Persistent diarrhea: total gut transit time and its relationship with nutrient absorption and clinical response. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr, 13(4), 409-14

  7. Waugh, N., et al. (2013). Faecal calprotectin testing for differentiating amongst inflammatory and non-inflammatory bowel diseases: systematic review and economic evaluation. NIHR Journals Library, Health Technology Assessment, No. 17.55. Appendix 1, Comparison of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and coeliac disease.