Monday, May 23, 2022

Are Microbiome Tests Worth It

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It Affects Your Digestive Health

Viome Review – Complete Microbiome Analysis w/ Precision Supplements, At Home Test [WORTH IT??]

As earlier iterated, there are more than 1000 species of bacteria in your gut and some of them play critical roles as far as your digestive health is concerned. For instance, bacterial species such as Bifidobacteria plays a role in the digestion of breast milk in infants. There are also species that help in the digestion of fiber, which is really important for your gut health and may help improve heart health, prevent diabetes, and reduce the risk of cancer.

Other species such as lactobacilli are believed to help in improving the integrity of the intestinal cells and can even prevent GIT disorders such as the leaky gut syndrome. And needless to mention, we are what we eat, improved digestive health can lead to improved overall health.

However, when bacteria species from your large intestines invade the small intestines and overgrowth occurs, the balance is disrupted and this may result in GIT issues such as Irritated Bowel Syndrome. This means that to ensure that theres a good balance in your gut microbiome and prevent this from happening, regular testing is important.

Gut Check: Scientists Are Wary Of At

The idea that different types of bacteria in the human gut play a role in health and disease is driving a new trend in consumer-oriented health-care kits.

Startups are offering new services to analyze the complex community of microörganisms that live in the digestive tractcalled the microbiome. Customers receive test tubes in the mail and send them back with fecal swabs to be analyzed in a lab. The companies say they can do things like make diet recommendations and predict risk for certain diseases based on a persons unique microbial makeup.

While these tests could probably tell if you have a serious bacterial infection, scientists say they cant yet diagnose patients with diseases and they are doubtful the tests can reliably provide the kind of personalized information their makers claim they will.

The enthusiasm of their manufacturers simply goes well beyond where the science is right now, says Rob Knight, a leading microbiome researcher and professor at the University of California, San Diego. Knight is the cofounder of the American Gut project, a crowdfunded study to map the human gut.

Meanwhile, San Francisco-based company uBiome launched a service in November that detects microörganisms that may contribute to common gut symptoms, including constipation, bloating, diarrhea, and gas. Called SmartGut, it can only be ordered by a medical professional and is fully or partially covered by most health insurance companies.

What The Science Says

So, do these microbiome tests really work? Unfortunately, there’s a lack of research in this area, which worries experts in the field. Both of the gut health experts we interviewed are not yet on board with these types of tests for this reason.

“I typically don’t recommend purchase these at-home gut microbiome test kits,” registered dietitian Nicole Arcilla, RDN, owner of Your Gut Feeling, tells LIVESTRONG.com. “We’re just beginning to scratch the surface of gut health, and so these test kits that have been trending lately are definitely in their infancy stages and don’t necessarily provide useful information.”

Elena Ivanina, DO, a gastroenterologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, agrees. She points to a January 2019 paper in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, which looks at the changing nature of the gut.

“This is a great review article because it describes why it is so difficult to accurately interpret microbiome tests,” she says. “The gut microbiome is intrinsically dynamic and therefore changing rapidly. It’s very sensitive to changes in diet or drugs, which means your results may be different after just a few days.”

Other reasons for caution? Different tests with different methodologies will give different results. Plus, because of the lack of complete research, we don’t really know what “normal” looks like when it comes to results from tests like these.

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What Do We Know About The Microbiome

Science has come a long way in learning about you, your microbiome and gut health. The problem is, the more we uncover, the more we find out we need still need to discover!

How Many Types Of Microbes Are There?

Right now researchers have identified about 10,000 species that can inhabit your GI tract. Every few years they discover and catalog about 1,500 more. Right now they estimate that eventually, they will find 20,000 to 40,000 in total. But the truth is, even the top scientists dont know for sure. Your microbiome is complex and dynamic. Its constantly changing.

Every time they discover new microbes questions emerge like:

  • What does this microbe do?
  • What genes does it affect?
  • How does it interact with other microbes?
  • Has it always been in the microbiome or is it new?
  • Is it supposed to be there, or should we try and get rid of it?

The more researchers find, the more they have to unpack that information. They scramble to figure out what the new data means to you and your health.

How Many Microbes Do We Have?

Doctors used to think that the number of microbes vastly outnumbered your own cells. Now thats been revised. They presently state that the number is about the same. You have as many microbes as your own cells — yet they admit there is about a 25% variance amongst different people. Plus, your microbiome changes continuously. Even one bowel movement can significantly change that number!

Which Microbes Are The Good Ones?

How Much Does The Microbiome Change?

Testing Your Gut Microbiome: Is It Worth It

Microbe Formulas: Are Gut Microbiome Tests Accurate Or ...

Many companies sell at-home gut microbiome test and reports that some of them say may help you lose weight, increase energy, and boost your immune system. Food and mental health reporter Mary Beth Albright walks us through the testing process and explores whether testing your microbiome is worth it. Read more: Subscribe to The Washington Post on YouTube:

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8 comments

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Why You Should Trust Us

Innerbody Research recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary online. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles. Our testing team has purchased and compared over 500 health-related tests to date, and we are constantly updating our reviews based on the latest test advances.

This guide, like all health-related content on Innerbody Research, is thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy. Additionally, we extensively analyze each health testing service we review. We evaluate the entire experience from ordering to receiving results and then offer unbiased, marketing-jargon-free analysis based on the latest scientific evidence and medical standards.

But Arent These Tests Based On Science

The idea of your gut microbiome the whole community of gut microbes and their products influencing your health is gaining momentum.

Over about the past two decades, the gut microbiome has been linked to everything from inflammatory bowel disease to depression.

So its been appealing to think if you just knew what was in your gut microbiome, you could tweak your diet and create a designer microbiome to improve your health.

Theres preliminary evidence analysing the gut microbiome in a stool sample can help predict who will do well on a certain diet.

Theres also some evidence it can help predict which people with inflammatory bowel disease respond to medical treatments.

Read more:Explainer: what is inflammatory bowel disease?

But these findings are far from being applied more generally and for routine health care.

One day, we may understand how combining information about your microbiome with other test results, such as genomic tests might help.

The idea is that this would help people prevent disease and medication side-effects, predict their future risk of disease, and help choose a personalised diet for optimal health.

For instance, information about someones microbiome, when combined with blood tests and their diet, can predict how someones blood glucose levels respond to specific meals.

This 2015 study also showed that by analysing someones gut microbes you could tailor their diet to keep their blood glucose under control.

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Good Bacteria Vs Bad Bacteria

In the last month alone, patients have presented me with such reports from three different companies, ordered by either integrative doctors or naturopaths. On their websites, marketers of these tests promise to tell you whether you harbor good bacteria or bad bacteria, advise you of bacterial imbalances you may have, and offer actionable insights to modify your inner ecosystem toward improving your health.

Some recommend specific diets or foods to help rebalance your microbiota, while others warn you of specific disease risks based on the test results. All of them suggest the purchase of numerous, specific and dietary supplements, sometimes sold by the testing company themselves, other times not.

Beyond That Scientists Have Yet To Define What An Optimally Healthy Microbiome Looks Like If Theres Even Such A Thing

Viome Review Is it REALLY worth it?

The microbiome is a spectrum and the line between healthy and unhealthy is blurry. A long-standing challenge of microbiome research has been to define what it means to have a healthy microbiome. Could there be some optimum combination of bacteria that ensures a persons health? After years of research, it turns out there is really no such thingat least, not just a single combination of organisms that qualifies as a healthy microbiome. Instead, a number of variations can all be considered healthy or normal.

Plus, your microbiome is constantly changing. In one person, if you have your microbiome sequenced, even day to day there are going to be variations. Dr. Hecht tells SELF. Changes in the microbiome can be due to what someone ate or drank that day, the presence of transient illnesses such as colds or diarrhea, or any medicationsespecially medications that target bacteria, such as antibiotics.

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If you want to go beyond your gut microbiome , Viome offers a pricier Health Intelligence service that combines the gut microbiome insights with an examination of your blood in order to give you insight into your cell metabolism, biological aging process and more. To read more about this, check out our full Viome review.

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What Happens After A Gut Health Test

After youve sent off your sample, you should receive your test report within a few weeks . Your test should show you which microbes you have and explain the current research findings on each. It should also tell you how to optimise the richness and diversity of your microbiome.

The specifics of this guidance will vary according to whats found in your sample. Here at Healthpath, we give personalised recommendations for:

Diet You may be eating too much of a food type that encourages dysbiosis, or you might not be eating enough of a food type that encourages the growth of healthy bacteria. A good test report should tell you which foods will benefit your microbiome.

Lifestyle Although your dietary habits shape your microbiome, other habits have an impact too. These include your sleep, stress and level of activity. A Healthpath gut health report gives you extra resources to help you improve all three.

Supplements You should always optimise your diet and lifestyle first, but supplements can be a helpful tool to support your gut health. Typical recommendations include probiotics, prebiotics and antimicrobialsbut this will vary depending on your specific results.

You should expect to follow these recommendations closely for eight to 12 weeks. After that, the goal is to make your diet as relaxed and as inclusive as possible, all while continuing to support a healthy microbiome.

What I Did Not Like About Thryve

Microbiome test subscriptions: are they worth it?
  • All consultations are online and some people might find that a bit uncomfortable.
  • There might be stomach discomfort in some people as you can see in Thryve review.
  • Probiotic recommendations and treatment are still in the exploratory stage although there is no harm recorded.
  • There is some dissatisfaction over response to customer queries with many customers.
  • International orders involve shipping charges.

Thryve Gut Health

Have a look at the authentic Thryve review:

Thryve has been life-changing. Ive been suffering from digestive issues since I was a child. I later learned I had celiac disease and my gut was a mess. Even after going gluten-free I still had major issues.

Thryve has been the only thing that has significantly helped. I no longer blindly buy probiotics and am armed with the knowledge of which strains my body really needs.

I cant say enough good things and Im so fortunate and thankful to have found a product that truly heals me.

My 12-year-old child had chronic diarrhea for 20 months after her Lyme treatment with 2 months of 3 types of antibiotics.From the very first Thryve probiotic, her stool was perfect.

She takes one a day, its been 3 weeks and every day she has had a perfect stool. She is a much happier child.

I highly recommend Thryve. I am very grateful for your service. You rescued my poor child.

However, the one thing I can 100% say is my BMs are regular and very smooth.

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But Im Curious Anyway

Most companies ask you to send in a stool sample, which you take yourself and post in a secure package to a laboratory to analyse the results.

Each company is different

Different companies analyse your stool sample in different ways.

For instance, some tell you the relative abundance of bacteria down to the genus level . Some tell you which strains of microbe are present and their function. Some tell you which of the microbe genes are expressed and active.

All of these are legitimate approaches to analysing your gut microbiome, and you could expect a reasonable degree of accuracy.

How do you interpret the results?

The companies also differ in how they supply and interpret the results. The company may compare your results with others theyve analysed. But they cant compare them with an average or healthy microbiome because an individual company doesnt sample the whole population, and scientists havent yet defined a healthy microbiome.

Some companies advise the types of foods you could eat to boost levels of particular bacteria. You might also be told that a certain bacteria can be associated with some health condition, like obesity or constipation.

Ideally, alongside your results would be an explanation about the types of research the insights are based on, limitations of the evidence, and a caution the results cannot be considered medical advice.

What about privacy?

How Do Your Gut Microbiome Results Affect Your Treatment

Running these tests can give us a bounty of info and we can be more specific with treatment, says Dr. McConnell. For example, if you are low in beneficial bacteria, we need to load you up with probiotics and fiber. You may also have too much bad bacteria, which according to Dr. McConnell, would mean you could benefit from pharmaceutical-grade antimicrobial supplements that kill bacteria in the colon. And finally, if your gut shows that theres a lot of inflammation, your doctor may suggest an anti-inflammatory diet with additional anti-inflammatory supplements.

The results of microbiome testing can be extremely helpful, but its important to keep in mind that the science surrounding the microbiome is very new. Its always morphing and changing and a lot of the studies are still very small, says Dr. McConnell. Basically, these tests dont tell us everything, so we shouldnt rely on them alone to inform treatment. For example, there are specific bacteria that have been linked to specific health conditions, but the science isnt strong enough yet to make any conclusions. Getting too bogged down in the minutia isnt helpful. Its a much more big picture, says Dr. McConnell.

Its also best to do gut microbiome testing under the guidance of a doctor who can actually help you interpret your results. Without that, you run the risk of self-diagnosing and inappropriately treating.

Also Check: Can Prenatal Vitamins Cause Diarrhea

The Microbiome Affecting The Whole Body

The bodys microbiome is an ecosystem made up of countless organisms. It can affect our throats, noses, urinary tracts, skin, and, of course, our digestive system. When you have the right symbiotic relationship with your bodys bacteria, you can optimize your well-being. Well-balanced bacteria levels allow you to modulate your immunity, absorb foods more effectively, and combat disease. Unfortunately, modern lifestyles are leading more of us to have an unhealthy gut flora balance. We spend too much time indoors. We eat unhealthy diets with lots of processed foods. We have stressful workplaces. We are often exposed to chemicals and potentially harmful toxins. All these things have an impact on our gut flora.

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