Multiple studies have shown the importance of a healthy gut. But how do we know if we have a healthy gut? To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of the best indicators of gut health. And get ready to be surprised, because they might not be what you expect!
A wide variety of things can impact our overall gut health, including sleep patterns, medications, diet, and stress. But generally, how our digestive system is functioning can say a lot about the health of our gut and whether we have enough good gut bacteria. So not surprisingly, your bowel movements are one of the best ways to tell if you have a healthy gut.
Here’s how you can check your gut health according to ZOE, a popular nutrition app.
Minor Bloating & Gas
Gas is a natural result of the bacteria in our gut breaking down the food we eat. In fact, it’s totally normal to fart at least 10-20 times a day! So if your gas levels are relatively minor and aren’t causing frequent discomfort, there’s a good chance you have a healthy gut. However, if you’re experiencing chronic bloating or gas, it could be a sign of an unhealthy gut.
How Often You Have Bowel Movements
Although there’s no ‘perfect’ rule for how often you should poop, having a bowel movement between three times a day and three times a week is generally considered in the healthy range. So if your bowel movements seem to typically fall within this guideline, that’s an optimistic sign that you have good gut health.
Painless Bowel Movements
Your bowel movements should be free of any pain, discomfort, and excessive straining. If you’re able to pass stool relatively easily without experiencing constipation, that’s a sign of good gut health. Chronic constipation, on the other hand, could be a sign of the opposite. Irritable bowel syndrome and food intolerances can also cause discomfort during bowel movements.
Stool Color & Shape
Believe it or not, the color and shape of your stool is an important indicator of gut health. Stool from a healthy gut is usually medium to dark brown in color. It should also be smooth in texture and form a sausage shape without breaking up too much in the toilet bowl. If your stool consistently has these characteristics, your gut health is in great shape.
Gut Transit Time
Gut transit time is how long it takes for food to be digested and move through your gut. And although gut transit time can vary somewhat among individuals, around 28 hours is considered a sign of a healthy gut. Your gut transit time also correlates with the frequency of your bowel movements and whether you struggle with constipation. But if your gut transit time is relatively close to 28 hours, chances are your gut health is excellent.