Table 1

Gut health and gastrointestinal healtha

Five major criteria for a healthy GI system

Specific signs of GI health


Effective digestion and absorption of food

Normal nutritional status and effective absorption of food, water and minerals

Regular bowel movement, normal transit time and no abdominal pain

Normal stool consistency and rare nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation and bloating

Absence of GI illness

No acid peptic disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease or other gastric inflammatory disease

No enzyme deficiencies or carbohydrate intolerances

No IBD, coeliac disease or other inflammatory state

No colorectal or other GI cancer

Normal and stable intestinal microbiota

No bacterial overgrowth

Normal composition and vitality of the gut microbiome

No GI infections or antibiotic-associated diarrhoea

Effective immune status

Effective GI barrier function, normal mucus production and no enhanced bacterial translocation

Normal levels of IgA, normal numbers and normal activity of immune cells

Immune tolerance and no allergy or mucosal hypersensitivity

Status of well-being

Normal quality of life

'Qi (ch'i)', or positive gut feeling

Balanced serotonin production and normal function of the enteric nervous system


aGI, gastrointestinal; IBD, inflammatory bowel disease; IgA, immunoglobulin A.

Bischoff BMC Medicine 2011 9:24   doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-24

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