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Gut Health Test

Updated on October 20, 2021
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Dhingra
Written by
Joel
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Over 100 trillion 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.”

See 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

Role of Gut Microbiomes

  • 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.
  • They promote immune healthSome studies have found the relationship between a healthy gut microbiome and a healthy immune system. A good gut microbiome promotes the disease-fighting ability of the immune cells.
  • They promote brain health: Modulation of the gut microbiota may help regulate brain-related conditions such as anxiety, pain, mood, cognition, and pain.

Because the gut microbiome plays a very important part in our overall health and wellbeing, it is equally important to keep them healthy.

How Do You Know if Your Gut is Healthy?

A healthy gut is one with an optimal balance of good 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:

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Best Gut Health Test

We took and reviewed the 6 best microbiome testing kits. Read our review to see what we liked and disliked about each.

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. An important neurotransmitter called serotonin is produced mainly in the gut. Serotonin is a hormone responsible for mood stability, well-being, and happiness. 

Serotonin 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.

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.

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. 

Research showed that the gut bacteria in our body produce a metabolite called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). This biological process occurs when they act on food molecules Choline and L-Carnitine. These molecules are present in foods such as fish, beef, and poultry.

TMAO is known to harm people suffering from heart diseases by producing cholesterol-inducing chemicals. Nevertheless, 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 diseases.

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

How Do Gut Health Tests Work?

Gut testing (also referred to as gut flora testing or microbiome testing) is becoming increasingly popular. Gut tests are the only way you can accurately predict your gut health.

Since the importance of the gut microbiome on overall health has been established, most health enthusiasts are now seeking gut health tests to determine the state of their gut health.

If you suspect your gut health is abnormal, you should consider gut testing. With at-home gut testing kits, you don't need to visit a doctor or any other healthcare provider to use them. However, they would need your sample for stool sample analysis. Like blood pressure and sugar level test kits, you can use them with ease in the comfort of your home.

Gut microbiome tests determine the current state of your gut using a stool test. They measure and analyze your gut microbiome using state-of-the-art laboratory technology. This helps identify your potential health risks as well as pinpoint 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. 

Who Should Take A Gut Health Test?

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:

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  • 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. With the advent of technology, gut microbiome testing has been made simpler and easier. You can get information about your gut from the comfort of home.

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. 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

Most recommended

1

Thryve - Our Top Pick

KnowYourDNA Recommends

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Thryve’s Gut Health Test is an excellent choice for budget-conscious people who want value for their money. The test provides one of the most accurate and comprehensive pictures of the gut microbiome among its competitors.

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

Key Features:

  • Using a stool specimen, Thryve’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. 

The Cheapest

The Viome gut intelligence test is a close second to Thryve

Image of viome at home gut test.

It's easy to use. You can do the sample collection yourself. You will get personalized meal plans and supplement recommendations from health experts at Viome.

The process involves placing a smear of your stool sample on the kit. After that, you send the gut test kit back to one of the Viome labs for stool analysis. When the stool analysis is done, they send the results to your Viome app.

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 result 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.

Thryve Gut Test

Thryve - Best Gut Health Test

Thryve gets our recommendation for the best microbiome test because they've been around the longest, they specialize in only testing microbiome, and they also have a good follow-up service (personalized probiotics and other items).

Summary

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.

KNOW YOUR DNA

Best Gut Health Test

We took and reviewed the 6 best microbiome testing kits. Read our review to see what we liked and disliked about each.

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.
Joel
Content Contributor
Joel is a writer with a passion for the science of DNA and the power of its manipulation.
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