Most women want flowers, breakfast in bed, or a day at the spa for Mother’s Day…not me. This year, my husband ordered me an at home gut microbiome test. That’s right guys…I got a poop test for Mother’s Day.
No, I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I was thrilled! I couldn’t wait for my kit to arrive.
We’ve been getting really excited about gut health in our home. This isn’t something new for us. But research is finally beginning to echo what natural health practitioners and health enthusiasts have been saying for years…the key to health is in the gut!
Hippocrates, the Father of modern medicine, was the first to theorize the belief that all disease begins in the gut over 2,000 years ago.
While we don’t have science linking every single chronic disease to the gut (at least not yet), research from the human microbiome project and many research studies have found evidence linking gut health to everything from obesity to heart disease, Parkinson’s, anxiety, depression, Autism, and more.
With all of the research from the human genome project and the human microbiome project, we now have enough knowledge and insight to be able to intelligently test our guts and receive actionable results that can transform our health from the inside out.
Read on to discover what the gut microbiome is, how at home microbiome testing works, where to get your individual gut testing done, and an inside look at my personal Viome unboxing video.
What is the Microbiome?
Inside each of our guts is a living ecosystem made up of trillions of microscopic organisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and many other microbes.
The microbiome begins to develop during pregnancy, but the majority of microbes are acquired during the birthing process when the Mother’s microbiome is passed to the baby through vaginal birth. Breastmilk also contains many gut nourishing nutrients and probiotics that help to establish the gut microbiome.
The microbiome continues to be established over the first 3 years of life, so the early years are extremely important for long-term gut health and the prevention of chronic disease later on in life.
The gut microbiome plays an important role in digestion, our immune system, metabolism, brain and mental health, sleep, and so much more.
You can read more about how to nourish a healthy gut microbiome in this post.
Why Should You Get Gut Microbiome Testing?
You can blame it on our food, the environment, stress, lack of sleep, genetics, the overuse of antibiotics, high C-section rates, or many other factors…but the bottom line is that most of the Western population has dysbiosis to some degree.
Dysbiosis is a term that means the microbes in the gut are out of balance. This often goes hand in hand with leaky gut, SIBO, irritable bowel syndrome, Candida, parasites, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
When the gut microbiome is imbalanced, the body can’t absorb nutrients, the immune system is impaired, the brain can’t function optimally, and nearly every system in the body is impacted. Ultimately, the ongoing inflammation and imbalance are at the root of almost every chronic disease.
How Does Gut Microbiome Testing Work?
Up until recently, we knew very little about various microbes that make up our intestinal ecosystem. Science has revealed that the microbial diversity within our gut microbiome is more varied than an entire rainforest.
Microbiome testing provides an inside look at all of the microbial strains occupying an individual’s gut.
The three main types of microbiome testing available are 16S sequencing, metagenomic analysis, and metatranscriptome sequencing (1).
The best of the three is metatranscriptomic sequencing technology, which looks at each microorganism at the DNA and RNA level. This tells us what strains are living within our gut, what they are doing, whether they are beneficial or harmful, and how they are functioning as a part of our body’s ecosystem.
Certain microbes in the gut microbiome play a key role in producing certain biochemicals that are required for health such as short-chain fatty acids, B-vitamins, vitamin K, and various hormones. Other microbes produce harmful substances like lipopolysaccharide, and some microbes are capable of producing both good and bad biochemicals.
With this type of technology, we can identify certain bacterial strains that are linked to obesity, strains that are capable of making antioxidants, strains that are linked to Autism, and so much more.
We now know there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to diet. Even “healthy” foods may not be healthy for everyone. Microbiome testing can help to show which foods are right for your body.
When we have information about which microorganisms make up our individual microbiome, we can make health and lifestyle decisions that can help us experience healing as well as prevent many chronic diseases from occurring.
Where to Get Gut Microbiome Testing?
Thryve Inside offers 16s rRNA microbial sequencing, which is a DNA based approach that tells what type of microorganisms are present and what they can do. They offer personalized dietary recommendations based on results as well as a personalized probiotic formula.
uBiome has several different testing options available. You can test your gut, nose, genitals, skin, and mouth. This provides a comprehensive breakdown of your microbiome, how it’s functioning, and how it compares to others, but gives no insights or advice. They also have a healthcare practitioner only option called Smart Gut that provides DNA sequencing with insights on gut conditions, infections, chronic diseases, diversity, and more.
uBioDiscovery is a Canadian company that offers a unique approach to microbiome testing. Their SUPERBIOME testing kit comes with a bottle of probiotics to start taking immediately after you send in your first sample. After finishing the probiotics, you send in a follow up sample to see the changes that have taken place. Your custom analysis includes a snapshot of your microbiome before taking probiotics, after probiotics, and individualized dietary suggestions to support the growth and proliferation of beneficial gut bacteria.
Viome goes a step further than the traditional 16s rRNA sequencing which looks mainly at who is there (but only at a genus level), and what can they do. 16s tests are also unable to identify nonbacterial microorganisms such as viruses, fungi (including yeasts), archaea, and parasites.
Metatranscriptomics tells us how these microorganisms are responding and what pathways they are activating. According to Viome, they are the only test on the market with the power to see every strain, determine what their activity is, and tell us whether they are producing nutrients or toxins. Your results include access to the Viome app to track your results and recommendations, and personalized insights on diet, interpretation of your microbial activity, and supplement recommendations.
Ultimately, I chose Viome because their advanced technology goes way beyond the other companies. With Viome, I can find out ALL of the various microorganisms living in my gut, down to the species and strain level, I get a measure of their biochemical activity, and I can find out which metabolites may be missing. They pair this with artificial intelligence (Vie) to give actionable insight on diet and lifestyle, supplements, probiotics, and steps you can take to improve your overall well-being.
Viome is not sponsoring this post and I am receiving nothing in return for writing this. My husband paid $149 for my Viome kit as part of their Mother’s Day special. I am writing this post because I want to share my personal, unbiased experience with microbiome testing because I truly believe in the power of gut health as a driver for overall health. I see microbiome testing as the GPS to guide us on the road to health and wellness.
Unboxing my Viome Kit
My Viome kit arrived incredibly fast in the mail. The black and silver box is very classy looking, and I loved the two inscriptions on each side. One says, “imagine living in a world where illness is optional” and the other reads “conflicting food advice is now obsolete.”
Inside the kit, the instructions ask you to complete 3 steps.
Step 1: Register your kit at viome.com/register (each kit is unique and comes with a unique kit ID on the side of the box)
Step 2: Complete your questionnaires (online)
Step 3: Collect your sample (aka poop) and return with prepaid envelope (unless you live outside the US) within 24 hours of collection
The instructions tell me that after completing these steps, I can expect results within 2-3 weeks. I am also able to download the Viome app to track my sample.
Stay Tuned for My Results…
I am so excited to see my results. I’ll be doing a follow-up video and post once I receive them, so keep checking back or follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see what my gut intelligence testing reveals!