“Gut health” seems to be all the rage lately. With inflammation, gluten sensitivities, lactose intolerance and a HUGE variety of diets on the market, almost everyone has heard the horrors of an unhealthy stomach environment - which is why researched developed gut tests. Finally! A modern way to optimize your gut health.
Importance of Gut Health
It's safe to assume that many of us are aware of gut health. Millions of probiotics and digestive enzyme bottles are purchased every year by American's that want to FEEL GOOD. However, few of us deep dive into our individual stomach needs.
The term "gut health" refers to the environment of bacteria within the human digestive tract – and by bacteria, I mean GOOD bacteria. That's right – you don't have to avoid all bacteria! Poor gut health can manifest in multiple disorders and ailments throughout the body, such as diabetes, irritable bowel system, colon cancer, poor sleep and high stress.
To sum it up: If your gut isn't healthy, there's a good chance the rest of your body isn't either.
We Are All Different
The biggest mistake that we make is assuming that gut health is a “one-size-fits-all” concept. Gut health is mainly personal. What works for you probably won’t work for your friend or neighbour. If you’re lactose intolerant, your recommended food will differ significantly from somebody who isn’t lactose intolerant.
To improve your gut health, you have to take a magnifying glass to your OWN microbiome! A microbiome is simply the bacteria living in YOUR environment (such as your stomach).
Different Foods Affect Us Differently
Wherever you turn, there’s another fad diet that people swear by! Many people have cut out gluten, some have eliminated lactose, and some have completed deleted meat products from their diet!
Diet, like gut health, is an extremely personal thing. Depending on body composition, genetics, sensitivities and allergies, your body will respond differently to food variations.
Your gut health journey and finding a great diet is a personal journey! The best way to understand YOUR gut health will be to tailor a diet that works best for YOU! Luckily, some tests can help steer you in the right direction.
Tests you can run to identify things about your gut health
There are several tests that you can take that will assist you in bettering your gut health. You can work alongside your doctor or naturopath, take food sensitivity/allergy tests, use DNA and microbiome tests or simply use an elimination diet.
Majority of DNA tests that respond to gut health focus on the “microbiome” of the stomach. In layman's terms, a microbiome is the levels of microorganisms within your stomach.
Majority of DNA tests that analyze gut health can be purchased online. The process is relatively easy – you have to send a pea-sized stool sample back to the company you’re working with to receive your analysis.
We will dive into some of the most popular DNA tests below.
Stool tests are the most common method of testing for online microbiome tests; however, your physician or naturopath may request one as well.
Some people are hesitant about this type of testing method; however, it gives the professionals the most accurate reading of your gut health.
Your physician or naturopath may request allergy and/or sensitivity tests. These tests can often be done on blood or administered on the top layer of skin. They can give doctors a microscope into what foods don’t react well to your body.
This can be an excellent method of determining what foods you NEED to avoid; however, it doesn’t give an in-depth look at your gut health.
Diet testing is one of the most prolonged and tedious examinations that you will do for a look into your gut health. Diet testing is structured dieting that eliminates and reintroduces food to see how you react to it after you cleanse your body.
Most commonly for gut health, physicians and naturopaths may suggest the FODMAP diet. This diet eliminates all primary food triggers and slowly reintroduces them. To complete this, you may be required to keep a food diary to reference when you have a flare-up.
These tests can be an excellent tool; however, it will require dedication and time to complete them.
Specific examples of companies that do these tests
We are looking at four popular DNA gut health tests.
Viome is one of the best-rated and well-known microbiome tests on the market. It has a loyal following of consumer’s that trust its test results. Viome usually costs $299; however, it frequently can be found on sale for $129. This price keeps it competitive with other similar tests on the market.
Viome has made such waves in the industry after features in Forbes, Marie Claire, Huffpost, W Magazine, Los Angeles Times and other mainstream magazines! Once the company analyzes your stool sample, Viome will send you an in-depth 90-day customized action plan that will assist in restoring gut health.
Thryve is another microbiome kit that Improves gut health through analysis and recommendations. For $149, you will receive a kit that you can return your stool sample in. Once the experts analyze your results, you’ll be sent a personalized report with dietary and supplement recommendations.
Thryve claims to be the only gut health test that provides a quick 2-week turnaround with personalized supplement recommendations.
AmericanGut is a $99 microbiome test – making it one of the cheaper testing options that we have discovered. Unfortunately, their user interface and website aren’t as interactive or user-friendly as its competitors.
However, AmericanGut does offer unique service options. For a single kit, you’ll pay $99; however, you can order more kits so you can test your whole family.
DayTwo is a microbiome test that tests gut health and blood sugar! It has been a wildly popular test with features in The Washington Post, Forbes, CBS, Times and more.
DayTwo also offers a personalized diet plan. However, it is one of the most expensive options costing $499.
How Accurate Are These Tests?
Microbiome tests are relatively accurate. However, you aren’t working closely with a physician which leaves a larger room for error. Each online microbiome test provides results based on one small sample from one day. This testing offers limited results.
Pros and cons to getting tests done
Some of the most apparent benefits of getting your gut health tested are to become more familiar with your body and the different foods that work for it! Luckily, at-home microbiome tests are relatively easy to do and provide quick results.
However, some negative aspects must be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not you want to complete these tests! However, expect limited results as the sample is only from a small time frame. Though the test is a great guideline, you should take more steps to ensure optimal health.
If you’re starting to learn about your gut health, an at-home microbiome test would be an excellent place to start. However, we recommend taking more tests for a better snapshot of your health. We suggest that you follow up your microbiome test with a physician or an elimination diet to better pinpoint your needs!
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