Microbiome Test: Wild Goose Hunt or Modern Miracle?
By now, most people have heard of the best services for DNA testing of consumption, such as 23andMe or AncestryDNA. These services test DNA in your cells to help you discover your ancestry and genetic variants that can affect your health.
But, this is just a small part of the overall picture of Health. In fact, scientists are beginning to understand that, while their DNA plays a role, their environment plays a much more important role. And, as scientists are learning, bacteria and small organisms living inside you and your skin strongly influence how your body experiences the environment.
Microbiome tests (intestinal microbiome tests and cutaneous microbiome tests alike) are essentially DNA tests for small creatures living in your body. Scientists have discovered that the ecosystem they form may be more important to general health than DNA in their cells.
In this article, we analyze the origins of, and findings from, as well as the best microbiome companies that provide test kits. Is the microbiome testing a scientific pursuit of wild goose, or is it a miracle of modern science?
Keep reading to find out!
The Origin of Microbiome Tests
While it sometimes seems that the world of science moves at a slow but steady pace, this could not be further from the truth. In reality, it stagnates for years and then expands rapidly. For example, science has known DNA molecules since 1869. Then, Crick and Watson took almost 100 years to discover the structure of DNA in 1951.
Finally, in 1990, initiated the Human Genome Project. In 2003, it was complete. The project not only allowed for a better understanding of human genetics, but also improved DNA processing technology. By 2006, companies like 23andMe were using this technology to analyze consumer DNA at a rate thousands of times faster than the methods available in 1990.
What Can We Learn from our Microbiome?
Each of the groups of bacteria found in the human body can contain hundreds of species. This means that there is a complete ecosystem of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your body! But can we learn something about our health through a microbiome test kit?
The whole theory that the microbiome can be equal to or more important than its own DNA originated in the 1880s with a scientist named Elie Metchnikoff. Elie, a Ukrainian zoologist, received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on immunity cells and their functions. But the more Elie investigated, the more she felt the microbiome was incredibly important. He even started the “probiotics” movement, eating yogurt and dairy products daily to reinforce his own microbiome. Unfortunately, he died at 71 years of heart failure, possibly from eating so many dairy products during his lifetime.
However, modern microbial testing companies continue Elie’s thinking line. They announce many health-related benefits of having a microbiome test, such as weight loss or relief from stomach pain. Some doctors are even starting to perform fecal transplants, a process that is supposed to change your gut microbiome by depositing a new microbiome in your intestine. This process has been found to work on some intestinal infections with great success. Other scientists have found strong correlations between certain diseases and various microbiomes.
Has Microbiome Testing been Shown to Work?
The answer to this question is yes and no. While microbiome testing can help determine whether or not you have certain conditions, there is still a lot of research to be done. For example, in the early 2000s a study was published suggesting that obese individuals had a specific microbiome. Analysis of the data from that study shows that this correlation was not as strong as the researchers suggested.
In addition, more recent research has shown that the microbiome is too dynamic to be accurately measured in a single test session. For example, an article in Nature suggested that microbiomas associated with irritable bowel disease can vary dramatically depending on the day. At one point they can clearly be an interrupted microbiome, at other times they are no different from the microbiome of a healthy person.
Other scientists had this to say of the companies test kit microbiome:
“We warn patients and suppliers that current microbiome testing, given the state of knowledge and technology, does not provide much value in clinical decisions. Important research remains to be carried out in order to achieve this objective.”
That said, You may still be interested in microbiome testing, just out of curiosity.
How do home microbiome tests work?
Like DNA tests, when you purchase a microbiome test for your cutaneous or intestinal microbiome, the microbiome testing company will send you a sampling kit. Most of them call their basic test “Smartgut”. Instead of taking samples of cheek cells or filling a tube with saliva, microbiome tests require a sample of your microbiome. And that only comes from one place.
Most microbiome tests have to take a sample of rice size from the stool when you go to the bathroom. Considering that his intestines are about 25 feet long, a sample of rice size is curiously small. It is essentially the equivalent of taking a cup of water from a lake and trying to determine all the species in the lake. This, along with the fact that most microbiomes fluctuate regularly, suggests that microbiome tests are not as rigorous as they should be to accurately determine the organisms that live within you.
What are the Main Microbiome Testing Companies?
Although there are only a handful of microbiome testing companies, we’ve collected the best microbiome testing companies here.:
Viome: this company tells you which foods your body can process well and which to avoid, depending on your microbiome. Supposedly, your recommendations will allow you to get the best nutrition for bacteria in your system, leading to better health. They offer tests for weight loss, sleep, mental clarity, digestive problems, skin health and more. However, the company’s website does not provide the actual studies where this information was obtained. Supposedly, the company is actively completing its own studies, but it is unclear whether this information is published in scientific journals. An article was found, but it was on a pre-printed server and had not yet been peer-reviewed.
In other words, the company is publishing its science, but it is not waiting for confirmation from other scientists before moving forward with its marketing campaign.
We are currently working on a comprehensive review of VIOME, which discusses the costs, the background to, the offer, the quality of the results, the data protection and the collective views of the users in the same way that we do when we compare kits DNA.
uBiome-one of the only sites to actually publish the scientific publications on which they are basing their evidence, which is very promising. This company claims to offer many of the intestinal health benefits, such as weight loss, offered by other companies. A great opportunity offered by the company is the ability to measure its microbiome three times: before, during and after a change in the life cycle. This allows you to understand more fully how diet and exercise can affect you.
However, you should also know that uBiome was raided by the FBI for repeatedly billing clients for evidence without their consent. Although this problem has been solved since then, it sheds little light on the culture of the company.
We have finished work on a comprehensive review of uBiome, which discusses the costs, the background to, the offer, the quality of the results, the data protection and the collective views of the users in the same way that we do when we compare kits DNA.
smartDNA: your doctor may order this microbiome test, which will help you determine if there are any negative species in your intestine that may be causing a health problem. However, this test does not appear to be available to patients without a medical order. This is actually a great service for your customers, because microbiome testing is at the forefront of science. In fact, even your doctor may have difficulty understanding the full implications of your test results. The company also has some unique offers, such as its test for possible heart events based on biochemical markers in the blood.
Thryve: This company will not only test the microbiome, but will also suggest specific probiotics to help any condition you may have. The user warns: probiotics are essentially the vitamins of the microbiome industry. Science has had very varied results with the use of probiotics. Thus, Thryve is essentially combining two unproven techniques, probiotics and microbiome testing, into a product that, according to them, will change the ability of your intestine to process food. Interestingly, the CEO of Thryve completed a publication of” Ask Me Anything ” on Reddit. When a Reddit user commented that one of the scientific articles used by Thryve actually discredited the microbiome testing industry, the CEO simply said that 23andMe had criticisms similar to those they overcame.
Where’s the Microbiome Test Going?
Although the current science behind microbiome testing is confusing, the potential of microbiome testing is enormous. Although studies disagree on the effects and composition of different microbiomes, many studies agree that microbiomes matter. Many of the companies mentioned above are really at the forefront of microbial research. In twenty years, microbiome testing can be a standard medical practice that every doctor integrates into the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
What to Do Instead of a Microbiome Test?
If you are curious about microbiome testing, but are deterred by the price or uncertainty of science, you should know that changing your microbiome is as easy as eating different foods. Because different microorganisms survive in different food sources, it can help or hurt them depending on the type of diet they eat. In general, a heavy diet in low-fiber meat selects microbiomes that can negatively affect your gut microbiome. Greens, vegetables, fruits, and nuts are usually related to good health and a healthy microbiome. If you think your microbiome is in bad shape, try switching to a plant-based Whole-Food Diet. This diet has been shown to relieve many conditions, from obesity to heart disease.
Final Words on Microbial Testing and Testing Kits
If you want “GutSmart” to be tested through a microbiome test, you must verify that you understand the science behind it at least to a basic degree and take all the information you get today with a grain of salt. Do not rush to change your lifestyle or panic about certain prospects, but rather repeat the test a couple of times knowing that your microbiome portfolio changes strongly and quickly throughout the day and between different days. Among the best microbiome companies such as uBiome and VIOME you can find a variety of tests for reasonable costs.