Do you want to hear about an intriguing study? Of course, you do!
According to a recent study, it’s harder for young adults today to maintain the same weight as those 30 years ago did, even if they eat the same amount of calories and exercise the same amount. In other words, if you have to eat even less and exercise even more than your parents had to when they were your age to maintain your weight at an optimal level.
Scientists are a bit unsure about why this happens, but they suspect it has a lot to do with people’s microbiome.
The human body carries more bacterial cells than human ones. There are about 100 trillion microbes in our body, with the ones in your gut having the biggest impact on your health. They affect everything from your metabolism and immune system to the way you feel. Scientists have found that there might be a connection between diseases like obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes and the bacteria in your gut.
Now, the obvious question is what you can do to ensure the health of your gut? You could start by learning more about the bacteria that live inside your body.
uBiome, a genetic sequencing test can help you.
Read on to learn everything you need about gut testing, how uBiome works, and if it’s worth your attention.
What Is uBiome?
uBiome is a microbial genomic company that uses cutting-edge medical technology to help people learn more about their microbiome. They’ve developed a sequencing-based clinical microbiome screening test that can give you detailed and accurate information about your gut.
The test includes an easy-to-use collection kit that you can use in the comfort of your home and then send to their lab for processing. Whether you take a sample from your gut, mouth, ear, nose, or genitalia, this test can help you identify specific pathogens and microbes that live in your body and compare them to different groups of people. So, for example, if you’re young, do a fair amount of exercise, but can’t imagine a meal without meat, you can see how your microbiome compares to other people like you or a vegan.
Why is this information important?
Just like your fingerprint, the trillions of microbes that live in your body are unique to you. In other words, if you were to test your microbiome and your best friend’s microbiome, the mix of bacteria inside your body will vary greatly. This mix is partly determined by your mother’s microbiota and the environment you were exposed to, at birth and partly by your diet and lifestyle.
By sequencing the genes of the microbes that reside inside your gastrointestinal tract, you can understand better how dietary changes and environmental factors affect your body.
How Does It Work?
There’s no way to put this politely: the gut test will require a sample of your poop. No, you don’t have to poop in a cup and send it across the country. You will have to dab a sterilized Q-tip on a used toilet paper, then seal it properly, and send the tiny particles of excrements to the uBiome lab in San Francisco.
That’s not the only way you can test the state of your gut.
You can purchase the basic kit for $89 or you can test your gut plus two other sites of your choosing for $159. Or you can send samples from all five sites – your gut, mouth, nose, ear, and genital for $399. (Discounts are also available.) Similarly to the basic test, you will have to rub Q-tips on these parts and send the samples to the lab.
You will also have to fill out a questionnaire about your habits and lifestyle and send this information together with your microbial details.
If you give uBiome your consent, they will add your microbiome information to their existing aggregate database. For you, that means that you can compare your microbiome to other groups of people. For the company, it means that they have more data that they can use to understand the mysterious world of gut bacteria better.
What to Expect from the Test Results?
Once your sample has been sequenced, you will receive an email informing you that your analysis is ready. Go the site, log into, and review the results.
You will get an interactive analysis with tables and pie charts that list some of the most common phylum, order genus, and species of microbes found in your sample. You can click on the name of any of these microbes to learn more about them. And, as mentioned before, you can also compare your results to uBiome’s entire database.
Although you can find information on many of the microbes found in your sample, for some there isn’t enough information to say what role they play, if any, in your gut’s health. It can be a bit disappointing. But, in all fairness, this isn’t uBiome’s fault. They let you know from the beginning that the microbiome is still largely unexplored.
In fact, that’s one of the reasons they’ve developed this test: to help advance the knowledge of how the microbiome works and the way it can influence one’s health. So, by taking this test you will not only know more than you ever did about the billions of microbiota that affect the way your body functions, but you’ll also be part of a medical pioneer community.
Key Features of the uBiome Test
Here are some of the key features the uBiome test provides:
- You will get detailed information on each known bacteria found in your sample, from their names and how many they are to how they influence the function of your body.
- You can compare your results with data from more than 100,000 people and various specific groups like vegans, heavy drinkers, smokers, and people taking antibiotics, and so on.
- uBiome is pioneering a new era of microbiome-based precision medicine. They allow doctors, patients, and regular people to learn more about their microbiome and contribute to groundbreaking studies that can advance our understanding of gut bacteria and the role they play in our overall health.
- uBiome has partnered with leading medical research universities and organizations around the world that are involved in studying the microbial genomics. Some of the most prominent names include the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC,) Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Oxford, and so on.
- The College of American Pathologists accredits uBiome’s lab.
Who Is uBiome Best For?
As we write these words, between two and six pounds of microbes are living in and on you. This fascinating ecosystem contains trillions of microorganisms that are both beneficial and detrimental to your health.
If not too long ago the world was antibacterial obsessed, now we begin to understand the role these tiny microorganisms play in the normal functions of our bodies.
Until now, the only way to identify the microorganisms living in and on your body was to culture them individually in labs, which was a slow and laborious process. But, thanks to DNA sequencing tests like uBiome, you can learn about the bacteria in your gut with unprecedented accuracy.
But, why would you want to test your microbiome? And who should do it?
We all could benefit from knowing our bodies a bit better. However, uBiome is best for people who suspect they have a gut problem and would like a more data-driven approach to solving their health issues. The test might confirm if there’s a microbial imbalance that could potentially lead to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS,) autoimmune disease, or type II diabetes.
Another excellent use of the uBiome test is to explore how different lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, switching to a vegetarian diet or reducing alcohol intake can increase the diversity of your microbiome. You can also use it to see if an extensive antibiotics treatment has taken a toll on your microbiome diversity.
Last but not least, uBiome can also be used by people who struggle with losing weight. Scientists have found that there is a connection between obesity and an unhealthy microbiome and have identified several microbes that harvest calories from food. A gut test might show you if your microbiome is working against you.
Pros and Cons
There are many reasons you should use uBiome to test your gut.
For starters, the kit is extremely easy to use and contains everything you need to collect and submit your sample. You can take the test in the intimacy and comfort of your home and then send it to the uBiome lab in San Francisco. The kit also comes with an extra swab and tube, just in case the first one gets damaged.
Once the sample has been sequenced, you will be sent raw data with comprehensive information on most microbes identified in your gut. On the downside, uBiome doesn’t provide access to doctors that can help you interpret the results and tell you what specific steps you can take to improve your health. However, more and more doctors are becoming aware of the importance of a healthy microbiome and recommend their patients to get their guts tested as part of their medical plan.
Another disadvantage is that the information you will receive is rather limited. Unfortunately, scientists have yet to understand the mechanisms behind a healthy microbiome. Therefore, you can’t use this test as a diagnostic tool.
Are There Any Alternatives?
The world is just beginning to learn about the gut ecosystem, so there aren’t too many companies specialized in at-home human microbiome testing services available to consumers. American Gut is one of the most famous together with uBiome.
The scientists at American Gut have a proven track record of microbiome work. Some of them even worked on the Human Microbiome Project and helped set up the infrastructure for managing samples.
But, what makes uBiome stand apart is the way they analyze the data. They put a lot of emphasis on crowdsourcing it and delivering it to the community. More than that, uBiome offers more testing sites (five) than American Gut.
Here’s the thing: uBiome isn’t a crystal ball that can tell you everything about your past and future diseases. If you expect to get some mind-blowing insights into your health, you will be disappointed. This is not a diagnosis tool and shouldn’t be used to predict your health or recommend medical treatments.
Its purpose is to help you discover your microbiome, learn more about the bacteria living in and on your body, and join a growing community of citizen scientists who are contributing to shedding some light into the gut ecosystem.