About this test
The GI Effects Stool Profile offers a comprehensive look into digestive function. It provides information on the make-up of the gastrointestinal microbial abundance and balance. It includes good, imbalanced and potentially bad or harmful bacteria as well as looking for the presence of yeasts including candida plus it checks for parasites and worms. Additionally, the profile checks fat absorption, protein digestion, pancreatic function, intestinal inflammation, gut immunity and metabolic processes. The GI Effects can also help to provide new information to help differentiate between Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
Recently updated this stool test is at the forefront of stool testing and is one of the top 3 stool tests we now offer. We have struggled to find a front runner as all three comprehensive stool tests we now offer cover a broad range of test markers and all use the most up to date testing technology available.
The difference in stool testing quality used to be vast but now, when using reputable labs as we always do the difference is much smaller. As technology has improved so has access to great stool tests and we are proud to offer a range of what we see as the top available tests done by accredited labs. So how do you decide which one to do? There is still a difference in reporting style and there is still a difference on what exactly is included – so if you are looking for a specific ‘marker’ as we call them in the trade then that may lead your decision.
Some comprehensive stool tests focus more on digestion, some on parasite and some the microbiome (bacteria and microorganisms in the gut) If you are struggling to know which is the right one for you then please do get in touch as we are happy to help.
What is being measured?
The GI Effects Profile checks 5 key areas of digestive health and wellness.
- Need for Digestive Support – this section checks your ability to digest and absorb macronutrients – protein, fats and carbohydrates.
- Need for Inflammation modulation – This section checks for inflammation in the gut which is associated with IBD – Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Crohn’s or colitis. It also includes markers that are associated with the health of the gut wall and immune gut function.
- Need for Microbiome support – This section looks for levels of good, bad and imbalanced bacteria and yeasts.
- Need for Prebiotic Support – this section assesses the need for foods and supplements to support good bacteria such as fibre, prebiotics and probiotics. Good microbial balance influences many things such as immune function, bioavailability of nutrients and amongst other things levels of short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) that are important for gut wall/gut mucosal integrity – linked to leaky gut and intestinal permeability.
- Need for Antimicrobial Support – this section reports on any findings that are related to infection such as any bad bacteria or potentially harmful parasites that may warrant antimicrobial support that may be pharmaceutical or herbal / plant based.
Your Gastrointestinal Microbiome – Good and bad bacteria, yeasts and parasites.
The GI Effects Profile takes a detailed look at your commensal bacteria – When in balance commensal bacteria all live happily together and some play important roles in health and or digestion. Using algorithms and data collected over the past years the lab are able to report on various observations about your commensal bacteria – such as abundance, immune v inflammatory susceptibility, diversity and balance.
Commensal bacteria form a part of what makes up your microbiome which is is made up of trillions of microorganisms along with commensals your microbiome is made up of good, bad and imbalanced bacteria, yeasts and for some also parasites. Your microbiome plays an important role in human health. The gut microbiota is diverse, varies among individuals, and can change over time, especially during developmental and life stages and with disease. The microbiome is viewed as an integral part of the body. Research has demonstrated the bacteria in the gut interact with the immune system and play an important part in immunity.
Some of the jobs gut bacteria do are;
- Producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs)
- Helping digestion
- influencing the immune system
- Modulating GI hormone production
- Maintaining gut barrier function and motility – associated with leaky gut.
- Modulating oxidative responses
- Producing vitamins (e.g. biotin, vitamin K)
- Metabolising xenobiotics and phytochemicals – removing toxins
- Preventing colonisation by potential pathogens
The GI Effects tests your microbiome – good and bad bacteria, yeasts and parasites via;
- PCR Testing
The most up to date way of testing bacteria is to use a process called PCR – it means that the lab is looking at the DNA of bacteria which is more up to date than trying to culture bacteria – grow them in a petri dish. This is especially important as many bacteria are anaerobic – meaning they do not live in oxygen and therefore die soon after they have left the body. This makes culturing many bacteria impossible.
The process of culturing means that the lab checks for the presence of good, bad and imbalanced bacteria and yeasts by trying to grow them in a petri dish. If they manage to grow any bacteria or yeasts such as candida, they then treat them with pharmaceutical and natural antimicrobial agents to see which are sensitive – meaning which are reduced or killed off by the agent.
Bacteria and Mycology Sensitivity
In the ever expanding world of microbial resistance, the sensitivity panel is a valuable tool to help inform which antimicrobial drugs or plant based antimicrobials may be most effective in addressing any imbalances and /or pathogens.
Highly skilled lab technicians check for eggs and parasites and yeast with a microscope.
Please see the comparison table here (coming any day now) to see exactly which good and bad bacteria, yeasts and parasites are checked for on the GI effects. Or check out the sample report at the bottom of the page.
Digestion and Absorption
This part of the test gives information about how well you are digesting and absorbing your food. Ultimately indicating how well your GI tract is performing its basic digestive functions. It includes the following markers.
A check to see how well the pancreas is playing its part in the digestion of protein fat and carbohydrate. Pancreatic elastase is secreted exclusively by the pancreas and provides insight into the production of the digestive enzymes amylase, lipase and trypsin.
Products of Protein Breakdown (Total)
A check to see how well you are digesting protein. Dietary protein that is not digested in the small intestine may be fermented by colonic bacteria resulting in undigested proteins which then move on to the colon. An imbalanced microbiome, termed dysbiosis, can result in unbalanced levels of these metabolites.
A check to see how well you are digesting and absorbing fats – this can impact on absorption of the essential fats and fat soluble vitamins Vitamin A, D, E and K. Indigestion after eating fatty meals and pale, floating stools can be signs of suboptimal fat digestion or absorption.
Gut Inflammation and Immunology
This part of the test is checking for immune function in the gut and gut inflammation.
Calprotectin is a simple measure that checks for inflammation in the gut. Calprotectin can be useful for distinguishing between Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Levels can vary with age and children under 10 have higher levels.
Eosinophil Protein X (EPX)
Another marker for inflammation along with calprotectin. EPX checks for eosinophil (white blood cell) – driven inflammation and may also be raised in response to allergies ( more common in children). Elevated levels may also be from food sensitivities related to IgG reactions. Parasites and infections can also cause raised levels.
Fecal Secretory IgA
SigA is secreted by the mucosal tissue of the GI tract. Mucosal tissue are strategically located in areas where external pathogens enter the body and it helps to form the protective lining/barrier of the digestive tract to protect us against pathogens and bad bugs and toxins
This part of the test is looking at markers that are impacted on by bacteria and also play an important part in the health of the gut wall and the way we use energy.
Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA)
These are produced by the fermentation of dietary fibre and resistant starch by the gut bacteria and play an important role in the health of the gastrointestinal tract as well as protecting against intestinal dysbiosis – imbalances in gut bacteria. SCFA’s maintain barrier function, provide fuel for the colon cells (colonocytes), regulate absorption of water and electrolytes, use up unabsorbed carbohydrates, support beneficial bacteria and balance anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity. They also play a role in decreasing inflammation, stimulate healing, and contribute to normal cell metabolism and differentiation.
One of the ways that toxins are removed from the body is via the stool – the toxins are bound to a molecule that allows them to be removed. Beta-glucuronidase can uncouple these toxins resulting in them being recirculated. Betaglucoronidase can also break down carbohydrates and helps absorption of some plant polyphenols and or nutrients.
Additional Results also on the GI effects
Faecal Occult Blood
The term “occult” in this context simply means blood not evident to the naked eye, that is, blood present in microscopic quantities only. Normally, stools should be entirely free of blood. A positive occult blood indicates the presence of free haemoglobin found in the stool, which is released when red blood cells are broken down.
Stool colour is primarily associated with diet and medication use, though it may also be an indicator of various digestive health conditions.
Stool consistency may vary from significantly hard to watery. This is self-reported by the patients upon submission of the stool sample.
White Blood Cells
These indicate an immune response that can be seen in infectious conditions or in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. WBCs can also occur with bacterial and parasitic infections and mucosal irritation
This is a breakdown product of white blood cells (eosinophils) and is present in patients with tissue-invading parasites and allergic conditions.
Possible Add Ons
At the check out you will soon be able to add on the following should you wish
Zonulin Family Peptide
Zonulin has been identified as a protein that regulates the tight junctions between the epithelial cells lining the digestive tract – it acts somewhat like a shoelace to pull the cells together. When zonulin is elevated it has been found to be associated with other markers that all together can indicate the presence of intestinal permeability or ‘leaky gut’.
Macroscopy for worms –
Most nematodes (roundworms), trematodes (flukes), and cestodes (tapeworms) to a lesser degree, are primarily diagnosed by ova in the stool during the microscopic O&P exam which is included as standard on this test. The macroscopy for worms add on is an examination of the entire specimen to look for macroscopic evidence of proglottids (tapeworm segments) or whole worms prior to doing the microscopic examination.
If a patient sees worms in the stool, they should remove the worm from the stool and place it in the vial clean of any stool, or in a separate container for transport to the lab.
Type of specimen required for the test
A Stool – 1 or 3 day collection with 6 vials or tubes to complete
The lab recommends samples are collected on 3 consecutive days but if this is not possible they should be collected over a week. If this is not possible please do get in touch to discuss options.
Returning your sample
You will need to send your sample back to the lab via a next day postal service – If you are in the UK, Royal mail offer a suitable next day service. If you are outside of the UK then please check with your postal service for options. The cost of the test does not cover the return postage.
Please note that samples should only be posted on Monday – Thursday so that they do not arrive over the weekend when the lab is closed.
A courier returns option is offered by the lab and details will be included in with your test kit. This is an optional service and the cost is not included in with the test fee. Details about payment, should you wish to take up this offer, are included with the courier details.
Age range this test is suitable for
Adults and children 2 years and above. The child needs to be potty trained and out of nappies. The sample must not be contaminated with urine or fibres from nappies. Please note the reference ranges for digestive and inflammatory markers are for adults.
Before taking this test
Refrain from taking digestive enzymes, antacids, and aspirin for two days prior to specimen collection, unless otherwise instructed by your healthcare provider
If taking antibiotics, antiparasitics, antifungals, probiotic supplements (acidophilus, etc.), or consuming food products containing beneficial flora (e.g. Activia®), it is recommended that you wait a minimum of 14 days after your last dose before beginning the test; 28 days may be preferred after antibiotics have been utilized (unless instructed otherwise by your physician). There may be times when your healthcare provider prefers that you stay on one of these agents (e.g. acidophilus) during testing in order to evaluate its effectiveness. Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendation.
Never discontinue prescription medications without consulting your healthcare provider first.
The test kit will come with full instructions.
How long does it take to get my results?
19 Working days
All sample reports are for representational and educational purposes only. Biomarkers, references ranges, results, and all other data may differ from actual reports. All data included in no way represents an actual patient. Any comparisons of results to actual patients is completely incidental.
Please find a sample report here; Smart Nutrition Comprehensive Stool Test – GI Effects Sample Report – Updated April 2020