With research showing that well over half of American adults deal with gastrointestinal issues every year, it’s never been more important to work on your gut health and keep it in check. But how do you know if everything down there is working properly? According to scientists, the answer is blue poop. (I’m not even kidding!) Or rather, it’s all about making blue muffins and eating them as part of a research-backed, at-home test to see how swiftly your digestive system works.
The nutrition research company ZOE and its team of experts from Italy, the United Kingdom, and Sweden recently published a study in the academic journal Gut where they devised an experiment to get a better sense of people’s general gut health. They had over 800 participants eat two muffins that were dyed royal blue with a gel-based food coloring. Then, they had those people track their bowel movements to see when they had one that was blue or blue-green in color. The average time it took for the blue dye to “complete” a cycle through the body was around 28 hours, and scientists say shorter times are associated with better gut health. The team also examined the microorganisms in the stool samples to see which ones had compounds associated with good digestive health, but no one is asking you to do that!
Overall, their hope with the data is to bring more awareness to gastrointestinal changes and the digestive system’s delicate microbiome. “We want to educate people so they start talking about gut health without embarrassment,” said Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London who worked on the study. For instance, maybe you’ll consider incorporating more plants — such as fruits and veggies — into your diet to better regulate everything in your body.
Want to try the blue poop experiment for yourself? ZOE set up a website showing how to bake their muffins if you need a little inspiration and what the experiment entails. You can even input your own results and get a better sense of where they fall on the spectrum. It might sound a little strange, but it’s a straightforward way to start thinking more about your gut health!