Have you ever experienced the gut issues i.e., bloating, acid reflux, constipation or diarrhea? These common problems can easily turn your good day into a bad one. We often take our digestive system for granted, only realising its significance when things go wrong. If your gut has taken a turn for the worse, you may be considering a gut microbiome test.
“Unlock the mysteries of your gut health with a microbiome test.” Find out the valuable information on the Microbiome test now!
What You Can Learn from A Gut Microbiome Test
The gut microbiome, also called as the gut flora, comprises trillions of microbes including, bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms. These microbes play an important role in human health, and imbalances in gut microbiome can be associated with a range of health conditions i.e., digestive issues, immune system problems and even mental health problems.
A gut microbiome test is like a personal nutritionist for your gut. The test helps you understand the unique community of microbes that lives inside your digestive system. With this information, you can learn about your digestive health and get personalised recommendations for a healthier gut, including diet and lifestyle changes. Think of it as a personalised roadmap to optimise your gut health and overall well-being.
A gut microbiome test is simple and non-invasive. All you have to do is provide a small sample of your stool, which is collected in the privacy of your own home. The sample is then sent to the laboratory where it’s analysed using various methods i.e., DNA sequencing. The data generated from the analysis is used to identify the types and amounts of microbes present in your gut (1).
Who is a suitable candidate for a gut microbiome test?
Gut microbiome test is useful for individuals who are interested to know more about the diversity and balance of the microbes in their gut, and how this may impact their overall health. Some common reasons for getting a gut microbiome test include:
If you are experiencing digestive problems such as constipation, bloating or diarrhea, a gut microbiome test can assist in identifying whether a disparity in gut bacteria may be the root cause of your symptoms.
An imbalance of gut microbes has been linked to obesity and other weight-related issues. Studies have shown that obese and overweight people have a lower diversity of gut bacteria. When mice without any bacteria are given bacteria from obese people, they gain more weight than mice given bacteria from people of a healthy weight. It was found that a type of bacteria called Christensenella is not commonly found in overweight people. When this bacterium was given to mice without any other bacteria, the mice did not gain any weight. Other bacteria i.e., Akkermansia, also help to keep belly fat from building up (2).
The gut microbiome plays an important role in regulating the immune system by impacting the gut-associated lymphoid tissue, controlling inflammation, producing antibodies and maintaining gut barrier function. A study has shown a connection between a gut microbiome and the behaviour of the body's immune system. The study opens up the possibility of using gut bacteria to improve treatments for inflammatory and immune diseases (3).
What Insights Can You Gain from Testing?
Microbiome testing can provide insight into several aspects of gut health. The test can determine the variety of different kinds or microbes present in your gut termed as microbial diversity. A high level of microbial diversity is an indication of a healthy gut. It can also determine the dominant species of microbes present in your gut and whether these species are beneficial or harmful. For example, presence of Salmonella in the gut is a potential indication of an infection. The test also checks the presence of protein and fat in the stool to determine if the food is being digested and absorbed effectively.
The effects of Gut Microbiome Testing on your treatment
The results of gut microbiome test can affect treatment in several ways:
- Personalised nutrition: tests can reveal imbalances in gut microbiome and identify which microbe species are abundant/deficient. This information can be used to develop personalised nutrition plans that include food and supplements that support the growth of beneficial bacteria and reduce the growth of harmful bacteria.
- Chronic disease management: a gut microbiome test can identify risk factors for certain gut related health conditions i.e., IBS (irritable bowel syndrome, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and others. This information can be utilised to develop a personalised treatment plan that addresses the underlying cause of the condition and supports gut health.
- Antibiotic treatment: antibiotics can disrupt the balance of microbes in the gut, leading to imbalances and other health problems. If a gut microbiome test detects an imbalance in gut microbiome, a doctor may choose to prescribe a different type of antibiotic/ adjust the dose to minimise its impact on health.
- Mental health treatment: the gut microbiome has been linked to mental health, and imbalances in gut microbiome have been implicated in conditions i.e., depression and anxiety (4). If a gut microbiome test reveals an imbalance in gut microbiome, a doctor may recommend changes to the diet, lifestyle or use of probiotics to support gut health and improve mental health.
When to avoid taking microbiome testing?
Gut microbiome testing can offer valuable information about the health and composition of your gut microbes. However, there are certain conditions where it may not be necessary. Here are few examples:
- If you have taken antibiotics recently. As antibiotics can significantly alter the gut microbiome, it is best to wait a month before taking a gut microbiome test.
- Pregnancy can also alter gut microbiomes. So, if you are pregnant, wait until you deliver your baby to get an appropriate result of your gut microbiome.
- If you are currently suffering from a severe/chronic illness, it may not be the best time to take a gut microbiome test. The results may not accurately reflect your gut microbiome due to the presence of illness causing microbes.
- Your diet can have a significant impact on the composition of your gut microbiome. If you have recently made significant changes to your diet, it may be best to wait until your diet has stabilised before taking the test.
- It’s important to note that these are general guidelines, and there may be other circumstances where it is appropriate to skip a gut microbiome test. If you are unsure whether you should take the test, it is always best to consult with your doctor for personalised advice.
In conclusion, taking a gut microbiome test can be a powerful tool in gaining a deeper understanding of the inner workings of your gut and its impact on your health. by analysing the composition of the microbes in your gut, you can discover imbalances and make informed choices about your diet and lifestyle to support your overall well-being. So, whether you are looking to address digestive issues, optimise your health, or simply learn more about your body, a gut microbiome test is definitely worth considering.
“Take the first step towards uncovering the mysteries of your gut microbiome-reach out to your physician today and find out if this test is the right choice for you!”
- Valdes, A. M., Walter, J., Segal, E., & Spector, T. D. (2018). Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. Bmj, 361.
- Beaumont, M., Goodrich, J. K., Jackson, M. A., Yet, I., Davenport, E. R., Vieira-Silva, S., & Bell, J. T. (2016). Heritable components of the human fecal microbiome are associated with visceral fat. Genome biology, 17(1), 1-19.
- Schluter, J., Peled, J. U., Taylor, B. P., Markey, K. A., Smith, M., Taur, Y., & Xavier, J. B. (2020). The gut microbiota is associated with immune cell dynamics in humans. Nature, 588(7837), 303-307.
- Clapp, M., Aurora, N., Herrera, L., Bhatia, M., Wilen, E., & Wakefield, S. (2017). Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clinics and practice, 7(4), 987.