Every living and non-living organism contains a particular community of microorganisms living on them which is known as Microbiome.
Human beings, animals, insects and plants, all have their unique microbiomes and so do soils, oceans and even buildings. All living and non-living organisms are inhabited by a unique microbiome and perform functions which are unique to their habitat.
Thanks to the advancement of science and technology, scientists are now able to collect samples at different omic levels, for instance, genomes, transcriptomes and metabonomes. Not just that, scientists now can even capture an entire microbiome and its microbiota and metagenome.
We, human beings have a microbiome thriving in our digestive tracts and are scientifically known as Human Gastrointestinal Microbiota or simply Gut Microbiota. Most of these microbes that are present in human intestines are found in the pocket of large intestine known as the cecum.
Although many different species of micro-organisms are found in a human body, the most studied ones are bacteria. There are several more bacteria cells than human cells in the body, logically making you more of a bacteria than a human.
Roughly, 1,000 bacterial species are living in the gut microbiome and each of these bacterial species plays a unique role in the body. Altogether, these bacteria function as an extra organ in the human body and are extremely important for our health.
Today, it is possible to do a gut bacteria test on your own and many people are excited about it. In this article, we will discuss everything that you probably need to know about conducting a gut bacteria test on your own.
Importance of gut microbiome
The gut microbiome in your body is an extremely important community. Some scientists suggest that it is impossible to survive without the presence of gut microbiome. The effects of gut microbiome begin as soon as you are born and as you grow, the gut microbiome diversifies, thus allowing more and more bacteria species to inhabit the community.
The higher the diversity of the microbiome, the better it is considered for health. Interestingly, the food you consume greatly affects the diversity of the gut microbiome and as you grow, the microbiome grows, thus affecting your body in numerous ways. Some of the important gut microbiome functions in a human body include:
- Digesting breast milk
Some of the first bacteria that grow in human babies are responsible for digesting the healthy sugars that are present in breast milk. These sugars are considered extremely important for a child’s growth.
- Digesting fibre
Some bacteria in the gut microbiome are responsible for digesting fibre, which in turn produces short-chain fatty acids important for a healthy gut. These fibres may also help prevent serious health issues such as weight gain, diabetes, heart diseases and even risk of cancer.
- Controlling the immune system
The gut microbiome supports the working of the immune system. Gut bacteria communicate with the immune cells in the body and control the body’s response to infections.
- Improving brain health
Latest studies suggest that the gut microbiome is responsible for improving the health of your brain. The presence of gut microbiome affects the central nervous system, which supports brain function.
From birth itself, the gut microbiome plays an important part and continues to support the body throughout life. There are many other ways in which the gut microbiome supports the key body functions and indirectly influences your health.
Conducting a gut microbiome test
It is possible to do a gut microbiome test on your own. But before you take any action, it is important to understand a few things, such as the kit required to conduct the test, how to conduct the test and finally – what results to expect from the test. Given below is every bit of information that is needed to successfully conduct a gut microbiome test.
What to expect from the test
The most important thing that you need to understand is what to expect from taking gut bacteria test. It is important to mention here that is not the kind of test in which you can get the results in a few hours or days. You might have to wait for several weeks for your results to show up. The expected waiting time depends on the company chosen for the test.
You will receive your results through mail or any other online method preferred by the company, such as through websites and mobile applications. The result will contain a detailed analysis report describing the composition of your gut microbiome. The report also includes the kind of diet that is healthy for your gut and the kind that can be troublesome.
Apart from this, it is also important to understand that this test will only show the results of a particular instance of your gut microbiome. To simply understand, consider taking a photo of a garden and then asking your friends about how it looks. But the appearance of the garden will change from season to season, just like the composition of your gut microbiome.
Therefore, a single test result is simply not enough to get a complete diagnosis of your gut microbiome. To get a larger picture, you will have to take multiple tests at different points in time or enrol into a complete workup from a specialist.
In any case, even a single test can provide many useful insights about your gut microbiome and can prove to be a part of the larger series of steps taken to understand the composition of your gut. The test will also be able to highlight the suitable food options that may help in boosting your health and those which you may have to avoid.
Gut bacteria test kit
The gut bacteria test kit may not contain much, as the actual analysis is done in the company’s lab itself. You will only receive a sample container and a set of detailed instructions on how to collect and store the genetic sample. In this case, the genetic sample required will be the faecal matter of your body.
After collecting the genetic sample of your body, you will have to properly seal it and mail it to the company, where the scientists and experts will analyse the samples. You may also have to answer some of the questions asked by the company to better understand the genetic sample.
How does the test work?
It is simply amazing how a colony of bacteria inside our gut can affect our body health so much. The presence of these bacteria in our gut can help us avoid chronic diseases, even cancer. They strengthen our immune system and help our brain to function better.
Scientists have been probing into this bacteria colony for years and have achieved visible results. Now they can analyse your microbiome and tell you what you can do to improve your gut health. The test is easy to take and can be taken in the comfort of your home. All you have to do is:
- Buy a gut microbiome test kit, which can be usually bought online and is delivered to your home address
- Once the kit arrives, read the given instructions carefully and follow those instructions to take a sample of your faecal matter and store it in the given container
- Mail the sample to the company’s address and answer a few questions about your gut health, mainly about what you generally like to eat, whether your stomach is healthy, problems if any, etc.
- In a few weeks, the company will analyse your sample and send you a report describing your gut microbiome.
The result will contain a detailed analysis about your gut microbiome, things you should eat to keep your gut healthy, steps to take to avoid chronic diseases, current gut health and how to improve it and even the presence of various kinds of healthy and unhealthy bacteria.
You can take your gut microbiome test at your own house. You can choose any company that you see fit for your test. However, the best company that we recommend to you is known as Viome. Read everything you need to know about Viome gut testing below.
- ACCURATE GUT ANALYSIS: Get Personalized food recommendations tailored to your body based on the most advanced technology, originally developed for National Security at the Los Alamos National Lab. Don't rely on one-size-fits-all diets to reach your health goals
- WHY YOU NEED A MICROBIOME TEST: Take the guesswork out of eating right. No more fad diets & conflicting food advice. Food & supplement recommendations based on your personal gut microbiome activity.
- KNOW WHAT TO EAT: Our results & recommendations allow for you to make informed decisions about which food or supplements to consume to help you achieve your goal of weight loss, better sleep, improved digestion, increased focus, healthy metabolism or higher energy.
- THE SIMPLE PROCESS: Your mailed kit will include detailed instructions on how to collect and ship your sample with pre-paid shipping to our world-class lab and receive results online and on the Viome app. Processing times may vary!
- USE THE APP: Our easy to use app allows you to conveniently access your personalized recommendations to discover the foods you should be eating (or avoiding) and why. Your gut scores help you understand your gut's current state. No lab required!
Best gut testing – Viome test
If you are interested to take a gut bacteria test, then Viome is as good as it can get. This is the only brand in the market that currently has the power to see every strain of your microbiome. The Viome technology can also identify the activity of these organisms and whether these organisms are producing nutrients or toxins.
Viome gut testing can even identify trillions of active microbes, their pathways in our body and how do they affect the functioning of your body. Some of the interesting things that Viome gut testing can tell are given below.
- Whether the microbiome bacteria present in your body can process nutrients in foods like spinach, beetroots and even almonds
- If your body can digest the number of proteins you are consuming per day
- Whether the antioxidants that you have been eating are healthy for your body or not
- How much iron you are eating and whether it is promoting the growth of potential pathogens such as Shigella and Salmonella
Viome makes use of artificial intelligence to analyse the genetic sample and discover what type of foods and supplements are beneficial to you personally and your gut microbiome. Viome is currently the best brand in the market that can provide you with such a detailed report. To take the Viome gut bacteria test, all you have to do is
- Buy a Viome Gut Intelligence Test Kit, which will be mailed to your home address.
- The kit will contain detailed instructions about how to collect the sample and ship it to the company.
- You will also have to answer a detailed questionnaire related to your general diet, gut problems you are currently facing and about your general gut health.
- After mailing the sample, you will receive your test results online or through the Viome app in as little as 4 weeks, the processing time may vary depending on the state you are residing in.
Taking the Viome Gut Intelligence Test will reveal:
- List of food items that you can enjoy, you should minimize and the reasons why.
- Important tips on how to prepare your food and how much to eat.
- Recommendations for probiotics and supplements, only if your body needs them.
Viome also boasts an interactive app that allows its users to easily check the food recommendations that are personalized for your gut health and the food items that you should avoid and exactly why. The app also displays a personalized gut score that rates whether your gut is healthy or not and what can you do to improve.
Viome has become very popular in a short amount of time, all thanks to its advanced research and technology.
Many popular brands, companies and magazines have highlighted the work that Viome has done in recent years and appreciate it for helping its customers achieve a healthy gut and with it, a healthy lifestyle. Some of the popular opinions are mentioned below.
“Viome’s result gave me actionable recommendations that I could implement in my diet with a few simple changes – as well as new gratitude for my body and the little microbial friends in my gut.”Meggen Taylor, Forbes
“Each person has a unique combination of microorganisms in their gut. These microorganisms affect you metabolize food, so the foods that are healthy for me might not be healthy for you.”Kiera Carter, Marie Claire
“Viome combines the result of a simple stool sample with artificial intelligence to make custom suggestions for user’s diet and lifestyle and potentially flag if the person’s at risk of certain illness.”Zoe Henr, Inc.com
Many general consumers have also found the insights provided by Viome gut test to be life-changing and recommend everyone else to try the test and understand more about your gut health.
Another Option – Verisana Test
Another popular method to do gut microbiome testing at your home is Verisana Test. The results provided by Verisana consist of an extensive examination of the intestinal area, including your gut bacteria.
Just from your stool sample, Verisana can find root causes of digestive problems, slow metabolism, food intolerance and also the cause of a weakened immune system. With Verisana test, you can also check whether your gut contains a mould, thrust, yeast, inflammation within your intestines and many other problems.
Users can take Verisana gut microbiome tests easily from home and has a process exactly similar to that of Viome test. All you have to do is:
- Buy a Verisana Gut Testing Kit, which will be delivered to your home address.
- The kit will contain a sample container, detailed instructions on how to collect the stool sample and a bag in which you store the sample and mail it to the company’s laboratory.
- You will receive the results through the mail in a few weeks.
Everything about Verisana test is comfortable, easy to do and related to your gut health.
Through the test results, you will understand many things about your gut microbiome and the current condition of your gut. You will also receive useful insights about what to eat, avoid and how to improve your gut health.
- DIAGNOSIS: Extensive examination of your intestinal area, including your gut bacteria, from a stool sample & find root causes for digestive problems, a slow metabolism, food intolerances, a weakened immune system, etc.
- CONTROL: Check your gut regarding mould (Candida), thrush, yeast, gut flora, inflammations within your intestine (leaky gut) and many others
- SIMPLICITY: Easy to do at home - once you get your test kit, take the sample and send it back to our Verisana lab
- COMPLETE: Everything included - sample instruction, test tubes and a bag for return shipment
- ANALYSIS: Scientific analysis and laboratory report via email included in price
Other ways to improve gut flora
Taking a gut microbiome test can be very helpful in understanding the health of your gut. However, it is important to understand that the result is based on the current condition of your gut and not something that can be used as a constant basis.
Of course, the gut microbiome test will give you plenty of useful insights about how to take care of your health and will also recommend the right food choices for your body, but it is still a constantly developing process. Therefore, it is recommended that you follow some simple lifestyle habits to keep your gut healthy.
Given below are a few simple ways in which you can keep your gut microbiome healthy.
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
Consuming the variety can be as important as consuming the quantity. Since the chemical and fibres in each fruit and vegetable varieties are different, it will contribute to the betterment of different microbial species.
- Eat seasonally available food items
Certain fruits and vegetables are available seasonally and should be consumed seasonally. The seasonal fruits and vegetables contain seasonally available bacterial species that may help diversify your gut microbiome.
- Select high fibre vegetables for your daily diet
Intake of high fibre is known to reduce heart diseases, possibly some cancers and even weight gain. Aim to consume around 40g of fibre daily to keep your body and gut healthy. Good examples of high fibre vegetables include artichokes, leeks, onions and garlic.
- Choose food and drinks with high levels of polyphenols
Polyphenols are antioxidants that are known to act as fuel for the microbes present in your body. Therefore, food options like nuts, berries, olive oil, seeds, coffee, tea and also green tea can prove to be very healthy for your gut microbiome.
- Avoid snacking
It is considered better to occasionally increase the intervals between your meals to give rest to your gut microbes. Try extending the intervals between meals, skip meals occasionally and even try to keep extended fasts. All this can ultimately prevent weight gain.
- Drink alcohol occasionally
Consuming alcohol in large quantities can cause liver and various other health problems. However, in small quantities, alcohol is said to increase your gut diversity and reduce the chances of various common diseases.
- Eat a lot of fermented foods containing live microbes
Fermented foods contain live microbes which will contribute to the diversity of your gut microbiome. The best options are unsweetened yogurt, kefir, kimchi, raw milk cheeses, cabbage, chilli, and soybean-based products.
Common FAQs about gut microbiome test
It’s natural to have doubts and confusions regarding how to take the test. To help you clear some of them, I have compiled a list of common FAQs that may answer most of your questions.
Which is the ideal time to collect the sample?
The ideal time to collect the sample is when you have maintained your daily habits diet for at least two weeks prior to taking the sample. This is mainly because changes to your normal habits such as overseas travel, short term use of supplements, or eating new habits can impact your gut microbiome.
Also, you would want to take the sample when your gut is in the most typical shape. This will provide you with the most accurate results giving you insights on how to improve your gut generally.
Can I take the test if I’ve been on antibiotics?
You would want to take your gut sample when it is in the most typical shape. If you are on short term antibiotics, then we suggest you wait for at least a few days before taking the sample. However, if you are on long term antibiotics, then you can take the sample according to your regular routine.
Should I stop using probiotics and vitamin supplements before taking the sample?
No, it is not required to stop taking the probiotics and vitamin supplements, especially if they are a part of your normal habit, as this will reflect your ‘normal’ gut microbiome.
Can I take the test if I’ve had a colonoscopy, colon cleanse, or enema?
Studies have proven that it takes 14 days for your gut microbiome to recover after a colon cleanse. If you are interested in knowing your gut microbiome without the effects of a colon cleanse, then wait for 14 days, otherwise, you can take the sample right away.
However, it is important to understand the colon cleansing can reduce the population of bacteria in the colon and some species will be reduced more than others. The results you will get may depend on the population of bacteria that remains after the cleansing.
Can I take my sample during menstruation?
It is recommended that you avoid taking the sample during menstruation to avoid contamination of the sample.
I touched the swab after taking the sample, should I post this?
If you think you have touched the swab or if you have any other concerns after taking the sample, then do not put the sample inside the bag. Instead, contact the customer care and explain them the situation after which they will determine whether a replacement kit is necessary or not.
Can I take the test if I have a disease or illness?
Yes, anyone can take the gut microbiome test. However, do consult a professional before you start changing your diet and adopt lifestyle changes.
Can children take the gut microbiome test?
Yes, gut microbiome test kits are available for children aged between 2 to 18 years. For them, a specialized children’s kit is available and can be ordered by parents or guardians.
How long will it take to get my sample analysed?
It generally takes around four to six weeks for your sample to get analysed and to update the results. However, the period can vary depending on the company you have chosen to take the test with.
Gut microbiome test has recently gained popularity and has proven to be one of the most effective ways to understand what goes inside one’s body. This test analyses your stool sample and uses it to describe the current condition of your gut and composition of your gut microbiome.
Thanks to this test, people can now have a personalised recommendations of what they should eat, what needs to be avoided and exactly why. Gut microbiome test also reveals what type of diseases you are potentially exposed to and what you can do to prevent those diseases.
Comment below with your gut bacteria test experience.