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Are Gut Health Tests Accurate?
Updated on January 31, 2024
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Are Gut Health Tests Accurate?

Yes. If you or whoever is administering the test follows the test instructions properly, gut health tests can be very accurate.

Make sure you follow all the instructions in your gut health test to get the most accurate results. You should also ensure you're only taking health tests from approved testing facilities or companies. Do your due diligence and research for the best results.

Over 100 trillion different types of bacteria live in your gut. They carry out all activities and form a stable ecosystem there. These bacteria influence food digestion and control the general well-being of the body.

These bacteria are known as the gut microbiome, gut microbiota, or gut microflora. They consist of both the good bacteria and the bad bacteria.

Are Gut Health Tests Accurate? 5

Think of your gut as your second brain and the gut microbiome as a cluster of neurons. But instead of controlling your thoughts, these bacteria control:

  • Appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss
  • Overall digestive health

Keeping your gut healthy and balanced will help you avoid any gut discomfort, chronic diseases, or negative health conditions related to an imbalanced gut, like:

  • Leaky gut
  • Poor gastrointestinal tract function (GI tract)
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

What Kinds of Gut Tests Are There and What Do They Do?

There are several gut health tests out there.

Gut tests done in laboratories can involve:

  • Endoscopies
  • Colonoscopies
  • Breath tests
  • Imaging tests

Usually, however, a fecal sample is required, whether the test is done at home or in a lab.

A gut test acts as a diagnostic tool to determine whether or not your microbiome is balanced or if there's an issue or an overgrowth of harmful bacteria.

What Do Microbiome Tests Measure?

Microbiome tests measure the microorganisms in your gut and digestive tract. Usually, people suffering from different kinds of digestive symptoms or discomfort take these tests to figure out what may be causing them pain or symptoms.

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Who Should Take A Gut Health Test?

Anyone can take a gut health test, even those who don't feel any negative symptoms and just want to check on their health.

When you suspect an unhealthy gut, you can request a diagnostic gut testing procedure through your healthcare provider.

The first signs of a dysfunctional gut usually include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Acid reflux
  • Other gastrointestinal conditions

The following people are good candidates for a gut health test:

  • Those who are experiencing diarrhea and constipation
  • Those with symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, excessive gas, or nausea
  • Those with frequent heartburn
  • Those diagnosed with, or having a family history of, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Those who have taken antibiotic medications multiple times
  • Those who want to learn about the state of their gut microbiome
  • Those with food intolerance, food insensitivity, and food allergies
  • Those experiencing frequent indigestion episodes

The best and the most reliable way to know if you need a gut test is to see your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will run some tests to determine if your gut is in good condition or not.

However, at-home gut health tests are also available. They've made gut microbiome testing simpler and easier. You can get information about your gut from the comfort of your home.

If you get any additional instructions from your healthcare provider, make sure you follow all their dietary recommendations and instructions.

Should You Get a Gut Test Done?

If you're suffering from any of the following symptoms, it might be a good idea to get a blood test done:

  • Mental health changes (mood swings, depression, anxiety)
  • Digestive symptoms
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

How Do You Test An Unhealthy Gut?

When your gut is unhealthy, you can either purchase an at-home gut health test or go to a healthcare professional who can carry it out for you. If you suspect an unhealthy gut and are experiencing negative side effects, make sure you figure out what it is right away to avoid exacerbating symptoms.

How Do Gut Health Tests Work?

Gut microbiome tests determine the current state of your gut using a stool test (more often than not). They measure and analyze your gut microbiome using state-of-the-art laboratory technology.

This helps identify your potential health risks as well as specific areas of your health that you can improve on. A gut microbiome test comes with a report with specific details about the results of your test.

Some microbiome test kits have accompanying personalized dietary, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations. These are customized according to every person’s unique results. 

At-home microbiome test companies will deliver kits containing stool tests and other instructions. You will then obtain a sample and mail it back to the laboratory. Test results are usually out in 4 to 6 weeks. 

What Will A Gut Health Test Tell You?

A gut health test can tell you many things, depending on the gut health test you choose.

Most gut microbiome test kits will look at your gut microbiome composition. They will check how balanced the good and bacteria are. 

Gut health tests look for signs of pathogenic bacteria, bacterial overgrowth, inflammatory and immune markers, and other indicators of digestive health. A healthy human microbiome is one that exists in balance.

Additionally, some tests will provide information on the presence of parasites, yeasts, and molds. 

What is the Best Gut Health Test For You?

There are different types of gut health testing kits. We rate them in terms of:

  • The most recommended
  • The cheapest
  • Most private
  • Support for fungal growth

Many of these are pretty affordable, so you don't have to shell out hundreds of dollars to get them done. Diagnosing a healthy microbiome is easier than you think.

1. Viome Gut Intelligence Test - Our Top Pick

Are Gut Health Tests Accurate? 6

The Viome Gut Intelligence Kit is our top pick for gut health testing.

It's easy to use. You can collect the sample yourself and send it to the lab for stool analysis. After the test is done, you can access your report on the Viome app.

There, you'll get personalized meal plans based on your test results. Viome's health experts will also suggest supplements for your gut microbiome.

Key Features:

  • Viome's most basic gut test with 20+ health scores
  • Simple stool sample collection method with easy-to-follow instructions
  • Learn how your diet, lifestyle, and gut bacteria affect your digestive health
  • Get customized dietary supplements that are targeted to your unique needs

If you want to understand how your microbiome affects your overall health, you can upgrade to the Viome Health Intelligence Test.

2. Viome Full Body Intelligence Test — Upgrade Pick

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The Viome Full Body Intelligence Kit is our upgrade pick.

It is Viome's most comprehensive test yet. Unlike their basic gut test, it requires three samples for analysis: stool, blood, and saliva.

You still get the same personalized food recommendations and supplement suggestions from Viome's health experts, based on your report.

But besides testing your gut bacteria and digestion, it also checks for markers related to your immunity, heart health, mental health, biological age, and oral health — among many others.

Key Features:

  • Viome's most complete gut test with 50+ health scores
  • Collects multiple samples for more accurate test results
  • Learn how your diet, lifestyle, and gut bacteria affect your digestion
  • Order personalized dietary supplements for your specific needs

Deal: Use code KYNDA for $110 off. 

3. Ombre (formerly Thryve) — Budget Option

Are Gut Health Tests Accurate? 8

Ombre’s Gut Health Test is an excellent choice for budget-conscious people who want value for their money.

It provides one of the most accurate and comprehensive results on gut microbiome.

The test analyzes bacterial activity and its effects on gut health. Ombre tops the list when it comes to patient privacy. It provides personalized recommendations based on test results.

Key Features:

  • Using a stool specimen, Ombre’s Gut Health Test works by targeting both good and bad bacteria in the gut to determine the root cause of symptoms.
  • The digital health report is easy to understand. It comes with detailed explanations of the significance of the test result.
  • Test results, a digital health report, and a personalized food plan are delivered via its app. 

Sale: $20 off

The Most Private

If you care about your privacy, the Viome gut intelligence health test kit is perfect for you.  This is because the details of your stool sample and the results of your tests are sent via your app or phone. You get to see your gut microbiome results privately.

Support for Fungal Growth

Some gut test kits can also tell you the state of fungal growth in your gut. The Biohm gut test kit also supports fungal growth analysis of the gut microbiome.

What Does the Gut Microbiome Do?

They break down fibers

The gut bacteria help to break down fibers. When these fibers break down, they produce short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids are linked to many nutritional benefits, like combatting inflammation and empowering anti-obesity properties.

They promote immune health

Some studies have found a relationship between a healthy gut microbiome and a healthy immune system.1 A good gut microbiome promotes the disease-fighting ability of the immune cells since most of the immune system lives in the digestive tract.

They promote brain health

Modulation of the gut microbiota and microbiome diversity may help regulate brain-related conditions such as anxiety, pain, mood, cognition, and pain.2

Because the gut microbiome plays a very important part in our overall health and well-being, it's important to keep them healthy.

How Do You Know if Your Gut is Healthy?

A healthy gut has a good balance of beneficial bacteria and bad bacteria. It means the good bacteria are at a reasonable level in the gut, ensuring efficient food digestion and absorption.

Additionally, a healthy gut also has a healthy number of immune cells. Immune cells help fight bacteria and other harmful microorganisms in the body.

Why don't immune cells destroy good bacteria? 

Like a war flag that allows allies to recognize each other, the good bacteria coat themselves in sugars recognizable by the immune cells.

This action ensures the immune cells spare the good bacteria when the immune system invades foreign bodies in the gut.

A healthy gut also has good communication with the brain and the entire nervous system. It may also affect your mood. This occurs due to the relationship between your brain and your gut.

As we know, food digestion is an essential process in our body. If our meals are poorly digested and poorly absorbed, health issues emerge.

While considering your general health, you should also make the health of your gut a priority.

What are the Benefits of a Healthy Gut?

Good gut health brings a lot of benefits to the human body. Here are some of them:

1. May benefit brain health

It may come as a surprise, but good gut health may benefit brain health. Good brain health is the key to a stable mood, good memory, stress, and anxiety management.

Research shows that the state of your gut microbiome can influence these brain activities.1 An important neurotransmitter called serotonin is produced mainly in the gut.

Serotonin is a hormone responsible for mood stability, well-being, and happiness. It is produced in the gut but released in the brain.

The state of your gut microbiome is suspected to be responsible for the level and amount of serotonin produced. 

If your gut bacteria influence the production of serotonin, it may determine your daily mood and happiness. This process may occur in combination with other external factors, such as work stress.

The gut microbiome also influences the biological processes of serotonin.

2. May help manage type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Gut microbiomes can help control your blood sugar, which can help in diabetes management.

In a study conducted on children's stools, the short fatty acid chains produced by gut microbiome activities on food protected the children from the early onset of type 1 diabetes.2

Another human and animal study confirmed different alterations in the intestinal microbiome may be responsible for biological processes that result in the onset of type 1 diabetes.3

This recent research shows that your gut microbiome can play a huge role in managing type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

3. May promote heart health

The level of gut bacteria in the body can influence cardiovascular health. Scientists suggest a link between the activities of the gut microbiome on food and cardiovascular diseases. 

Some gut microbiomes can influence cardiovascular health positively. A good example is Lactobacilli. 

Lactobacilli taken in the form of probiotics can help reduce cholesterol. Abnormal cholesterol levels act as one of the risk factors for heart disease.

Scientists are also looking at the treatment possibility of grapeseed oil in cholesterol-related forms of cardiovascular diseases.

How Do You Improve Gut Health?

To improve gut health, you need to make sure you do the following:

  • Follow a diverse, nutrient-dense diet
  • Manage stress well
  • Exercise or make sure you move and stay healthy
  • Be on the lookout for any untoward symptoms
  • Stay hydrated
  • Go on regular check-ups

Key Takeaways

Your gut microbiome influences a lot of biological processes in your body. They influence the activities of organs such as the heart and the brain. They also help control blood sugar levels and type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

There are different testing methods and kits, like the Viome gut intelligence kit and Biohm gut test kit, that you can use to check gut health.

You can improve your gut health through practices such as getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and taking probiotics. If you're still unsure of your gut health, you can consult your physician or healthcare provider to get more information.

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Updated on January 31, 2024
Dr. Dhingra
Dr. Harshi Dhingra
Medical Reviewer
Dr Harshi Dhingra is a licensed medical doctor with a specialization in Pathology. Dr. Dhingra has of over a decade in diagnostic, clinical, research and teaching work, including managing all sections of Pathology laboratory including histopathology, cytology, hematology and clinical Pathology.
Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad
Content Contributor
Angela is a full-time digital content manager and editor for Know Your DNA. She also contributes freelance articles to several local and international websites when she has the time. She's always been a voracious believer in finding the truth and ensuring the science is sound.
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