What exactly is “gut microbiome testing”?
Whenever you feel alone, realize that you are anything but, because you have literal billions of little critters living in your intestines. While your first response might be terror or disbelief, these little guys are far too small to see or feel. Beyond that, gut microflora play an important role in the development or prevention of a lot of bodily processes, such as:
- Metabolic function
- Brain function
- Development or prevention of coronary artery disease
- Potential role in autism
- Immune health
- Gastrointestinal illness, like irritable bowel syndrome
- Mental illness, such as anxiety and depression
- Potentially the development of colorectal cancer
In fact, the processes that gut health effects are too varied and vast to put down in one list, and scientists are discovering more links everyday.
So now that you know how important these little guys are, you may (like me) be asking yourself “what can I do about it?” This is why I decided to try it out and do a Viome review.
What can you do about your gut health?
There have been gut test review services for a few years now that can take a stool sample and evaluate it for bacteria load, giving you some basic information on what types of bacteria are in your gut. Though these tests can give you a picture of your intestinal microbiome, the picture is kind of fuzzy.
I heard about Viome when I was looking for a service that provided IBS testing. I became intrigued because their gut test review process is significantly more detailed than all prior services of this kind. Viome uses RNA sequencing to determine just what creatures are living in your intestines. Just like how everything poops, everything with DNA creates RNA, and RNA is like a fingerprint. The result is that, unlike other services that accept your poop in exchange for information only about bacteria in your gut, Viome can see everything. This includes:
And potentially even more than that. In addition, a Viome review of your gut health identifies the genus, strain, and family of bacteria – other companies can only identify the genus, which is a much broader view. The level of detail they promise gives a comprehensive view of your entire microbiome and breaks down how it can affect you, and what you can do about it. It’s simply the best gut test available right now. As we speak, I am awaiting my Viome results, and I will be following this post up with all the glorious information that is made available to me about my insides.
You see, gut microflora are basically a tiny ecosystem in your body. Some things eat the food you eat, which aids in digestion, and some things eat other things, to create a wonderful circle-of-life effect.
What’s not so wonderful, however, are the chemicals that some of these creatures can create, called “metabolites”. Some of them are healthy, like vitamins that you need to survive. Others, however, like trimethylamine N-oxide can cause atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease. Thankfully, with high-definition testing like Viome, you can find your weak spots and do something about your gut health.
So what does the Viome gut test consist of?
Viome will send you a testing kit which contains a small vial to collect your stool sample, and you take a handful of body measurements. You also need to answer a few health related questions online (desktop or mobile app). Once complete mail this back to them and within 2-3 weeks your personalized results are ready. Viome will combine the results of all the information (and stool) you provided to give you a comprehensive look at your overall gut microbiome.
From there, Viome will provide you with an ideal macronutrient breakdown for your optimal health and create a list of dietary recommendations to help supercharge your microbiome. Just a few of the benefits that this fine-tuning provides are:
- Provide you with the correct probiotics to stabilize your gut microbiome
- Improve digestion and inhibit symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
- Increase production of beneficial metabolites while reducing harmful ones
- Provide a nutritional plan that adds beneficial prebiotics to your diet
- Determine exactly how your body handles carbs, fats, and proteins, and create a personalized nutrition plan based on that information
All of this specific, tailored information is made possible by Viome’s metatranscriptome sequencing process. This is in contrast to the widely used 16S sequencing employed by other gut microbiome review companies.
With traditional gut testing, the sample you provide can determine a handful of your total gut bacteria, and even then, it’s ONLY gut bacteria. Metatranscriptome testing can provide clear resolution on nearly all microbes present. It also can delve into more specific information about your gut bacteria, getting a species and strain-level view. For example, everyone has E. coli (Escherichia coli is commonly found in the lower intestine) in their gut, but only certain strains of E. coli are dangerous to humans, and metatranscriptome testing can differentiate where 16S testing cannot.
Probably the best thing I learned when doing this Viome review was that this level of detailed testing can establish metabolite levels and composition. The resulting information helps them craft a personalized nutrition plan for you, in addition to providing accurate data on what probiotics to use as well. It’s simply the most detailed gut microbiome testing available.
Look, we all do stuff to improve our health, whether it’s eating nutritious food, cutting out sugar, exercising, or making sure to de-stress. Why overlook such an important part of your physical well-being? Your gut flora makes up about 70% of your immune system! It helps you digest food well and can keep your mood in check! If untended, your gut garden can cause heart disease, depression, and a host of other problems!
Get the information you need to get yourself on a healthy track inside and out by keeping up on what’s going on with your gut. Your billions of bacteria buddies will thank you.