Who Should Take Gut Health Tests? Testing Gut Microbiome
Gut health is a foundation for wellness. Our microbiome is the collection of all the microbes (e.g., bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, archaea, and parasites) in our body. Our microbiome can be in any of our organs open to the environment, like, skin, gut, lungs, urinary tract reproductive (penis/vagina). Your entire microbiome may weigh as much as five pounds, and the number of genes in all the microbes in your body is 200 times the number of your human genes. We have around 100 trillion microbes in our gut alone–the same number of cells we have in our entire body. Your gut’s microbiome plays a key role in many aspects of your health, such as your immune system, potential insulin resistance, protection against the proliferation of pathogens (“bad microbes”), your vitamin and amino acids synthesis, your metabolism, and healthy weight. The gut microbiome test gives you a detailed analysis of your personal microbiome and can be analyzed from a small stool sample.
The two main methods for testing gut microbiome analysis are 16S ribosomal RNA and Shotgun metagenomic sequencing. 16S and Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequencing are common amplicon sequencing methods used to identify and compare bacteria or fungi present within a given sample. The shotgun metagenomic sequencing allows to comprehensively sample all genes in all organisms present in a given sample. This method enables the evaluation of bacterial diversity and detects the abundance of microbes in various environments. Shotgun metagenomics also provides a means to study unculturable microorganisms that are otherwise difficult or impossible to analyze.
Unlike capillary sequencing or PCR-based approaches, next-generation sequencing (NGS) allows to the sequence of thousands of organisms in parallel. With the ability to combine many samples in a single sequencing run and obtain high sequence coverage per sample, NGS-based metagenomic sequencing can detect very low abundance members of the microbial community that may be missed or is too expensive to identify using other methods. Check the testing method type to understand the service you are ordering.
Microbiome Gut Health Tests
Some microbiome tests check that entire microbes’ genes, while other gut health tests are focused only on the bacteria and specific genes related to nutrition. The bacteria that live in your gut differ wildly from person to person and play a role in how you uniquely respond to food. For people with diabetes, knowing how their unique microbiome affects the digestion and absorption of food is important to effectively manage glucose levels. Since everybody’s microbiome is different, food choices impact each of us differently.
Testing gut microbiome requires little more than filling out a form online, paying a fee, and sending in a stool sample. Two to three weeks later, you'll get a report that provides an overview of the microorganisms in your gut and whether they're associated with various diseases and disorders.
Many of the gut health microbiome testing services will offer actionable recommendations on your diet and offer your relevant supplements.
Other gut health tests
In addition to our gut microbiome, additional factors affect our gut health. In leaky gut syndrome, the intestinal mucosa becomes permeable – your immune system reacts with inflammatory and allergic processes. A protein called zonulin is the only known regulator of intestinal permeability. When zonulin is activated in genetically susceptible people, it can lead to a leaky gut. Beta-glucuronidase is an enzyme that breaks the tight bond between glucuronic acid and toxins in the intestines. The binding of toxins in the gut is protective by way of blocking their absorption and facilitating excretion. Higher levels of beta-glucuronidase may be associated with an imbalanced intestinal microbiota profile.
You can order both zonulin and Beta-glucuronidase tests online without a doctor's prescription.
Non-celiac gluten/wheat sensitivity
Some people experience symptoms found in celiac disease, such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, bone or joint pain, and chronic fatigue when they have gluten in their diet, yet they do not test positive for celiac disease. The terms non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS) are generally used to refer to this condition. When removing gluten from the diet, the symptoms are resolved. A gluten/wheat allergy test can determine if you suffer from NCGS. For more information on other food sensitivity and food allergies, check our previous post here.
Your gut health is affecting your wellness. Several gut microbiome tests can give you a detailed analysis and personalized reports on how to change your diet, relieve your GI discomfort and optimizes wellness. Gut health tests cost range from $99 for basic microbiome analysis up to $349 for comprehensive microbiome and other gut-related syndromes. So, who should take a microbiome test the simple answer is those without series bowel issues, as those who suspect they might have a gastroenterology disease or disorder, should consult with their healthcare provider or order disease-specific tests. But if you want to know if what you are eating is good for your health, a microbiome or other gut health test is a good way to start your wellness improvement.
What is your gut feeling?