The importance of our digestive system for better wellbeing is only realized when something goes wrong with its working. We might consider the gut microbiome test, also known as microbiome testing or stool testing but is this test provides a wealth of information. Imbalances in the gut microbiome can lead to opportunistic or harmful bacteria and viruses which can cause a multitude of possible symptoms such as:
● Imbalanced immune response
● Constipation, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome
● Bloating and gassiness
● Brain fog and reduced cognitive ability
● Unhealthy and poor skin
● Lack of absorption of nutrients
● Increased process of ageing
● Fluctuations in mood and stress issues
What is a microbiome test?
Gut microbiome tests give information about the presence of good and bad bacteria in the gut. They also help find the potential signs of pathogens, immune and inflammatory markers of how the digestive tract is working. This test finds the specific "genera" or "species" of the bacteria found through it but does not identify the individual strains.
Instead of a blood or saliva sample, a microbiome test demands a stool sample. It might seem awkward, but this is the fundamental factor behind microbiome testing. A take-home kit is provided to collect the stool samples for consecutive three days. It is done so because certain infections involving parasitic infections are not detectable in a single day.
Information given by the microbial testing
Different species of microorganisms in a fecal sample are determined through microbiome testing. It helps to provide a wealth of information such as:
● Gut microbiome testing helps in determining the richness of the gut microbiome and the diversified nature of microorganisms.
● It helps to determine and compare the gut microbiome with that of others.
● It helps to determine the overall health and the ageing process.
● It gives information on the working and benefits microorganisms are providing to the body.
● It helps in determining the factors for improving health by adopting dietary modifications and strategies.
Importance of microbiome testing
Along with its exact use to determine the gut microbiome status, it can also be used for various other things that determine its importance.
Parasites are more common microorganisms that lead to various infections. Parasites such as Blastocystis hominis and Dientamoeba fragilis cause the symptoms of nausea and stomach pain. Such parasites are detected under the microscope, which helps in evaluating the presence of their DNA. And this helps in treating the person to eradicate the parasitic growth of organisms.
➔ Overgrowth of yeast
Common yeast such as the Candida albicans helps spread a wide range of gastrointestinal diseases. It also increases the associated symptoms such as weight gain, acne, and brain fog. Microbiome testing helps determine the growth of yeasts and helps in providing better treatment to stop their growth.
➔ Overgrowth of bacteria
Bacteria also grow when gut health faces disturbances and involves two sorts of bacteria, including potential bacteria and pathogenic bacteria. The difference among these is that the potentially pathogenic bacteria work as a pathogenic species only when it is allowed to overgrow. At the same time, pathogenic bacteria such as salmonella are virulent and are much more harmful when present in higher numbers. Treating and managing the bacterial growth beforehand helps in becoming harmful.
It is an inflammatory marker associated with the spread of irritable bowel disease and tumors related to the gastrointestinal tract. If calprotectin levels are significantly high in the body, then proper consultation from a GI specialist is necessary to manage its level. The gut microbiome test helps in determining its class, and adequate treatment is started after this.
➔ Immune markers
The gut microbiome also helps in revealing the over or under activeness of the immune system. It involves testing for immune markers. Inflammatory markers also trigger the immune response such as the IgA, any fungus or bacteria, or a specific point to a food sensitivity. Elevated levels of eosinophils which are the white blood cells, helps in indicating the allergy or parasite.
➔ Pancreatic elastase
Gut microbiome testing also helps in determining the levels of pancreatic elastase in the body. It is a type of enzyme whose presence is necessary for the body for the proper functioning of the pancreas. If a person feels a disturbance in the absorption or breakdown of food, it might result from lesser levels of pancreatic elastase in the body. Due to its more deficient production, food is not broken down effectively.
➔ Fats and protein
Gut microbiome testing helps to determine the levels of digestion and absorption of food in the body. A stool test detects fat and protein in the body, which indicates the digestion and absorption process related to amino acids and fatty acids.
Detecting beneficial bacteria
The gut microbiome also helps in determining some good stuff related to gut health too. This test helps determine the levels of short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate in the colon and stool. If a person has a vast and robust microbiome, these fatty acids must be present in high quantities. The lower levels of fiber in the body are related to the lower levels of beneficial bacteria.
Microbiome testing helps to indicate either a stool donor has a healthy gut microbiome or not. A healthy gut microbiome contributes to many aspects of health, such as balanced inflammation levels, proper digestion, synthesizing certain vitamin levels, and producing short-chain fatty acids from the indigestible fiber.
➢ Leaky gut tests
Leaky gut tests also come under this category and help identify the characteristics leading to leaky gut syndrome. It involves inflammation and damage to the gut lining. It is also associated with the risk factors of obesity and diabetes, which are based on gut bacterial composition.
➢ Dietary advice after the microbiome testing
After the microbiome testing, dietary advice is also given, which helps improve the microbiome's health. Some of these are:
● Increased consumption of high fiber foods is encouraged to help the growth of good bacteria.
● It decreases the consumption of sugary and processed foods, which results in the growth of harmful bacteria and yeasts, increasing the bacteria, parasites, and yeasts in the gut.
● Foods’s rich in probiotics like yoghurt are considered the best options to reduce the inflammation in the gut. Probiotics help balance the levels of 'good' and 'bad' microbes in the gastrointestinal tract.
From the above discussion, we can say that microbiome testing provides a vast range of information that can be deducted from this testing. Microbiome testing, which is stool testing, provides a valuable snapshot and insights into the microbiome. It is recommended to follow dietary advice, and good quality probiotic supplements as recommended by the doctor after microbial testing will significantly improve the microbiome's health. It is the best tool that gives an excellent picture of the patient's overall health, helping to heal and recover swiftly.