For many of us who suffer from seemingly-incurable chronic gastrointestinal diseases, the treatment is typically focused on lessening the impact of symptoms on our daily lives, as well as managing the frequency of flare-ups. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel: a revolutionary test that is deemed to be the best way to identify the precise food sensitivities that trigger your autoimmune and chronic illnesses. In other words, the test provides you with an exhaustive list of which foods are good for your digestive system, and which are wreaking havoc on your guts and should be avoided at all costs.
Here is everything you need to know about your digestive tract and this test:
A couple of things you might not know about your gut
In order to understand how this test can aid us, we need to go a bit in-depth about our gut. When referring to the gut, most people think about the stomach and intestines, but the gut (or, in more scientific terms, the gastrointestinal tract) actually begins in the mouth, and includes the esophagus, the stomach, the small intestine, the appendix, the colon and finally, the rectum. Together with the tongue, pancreas, liver and gallbladder, it forms the human digestive system.
The digestive tract is also home to trillions of various different microbes. To put some perspective into how many microbes live in our gut, there are about ten times more bacteria in our digestive tract than there are cells in our entire body. Collectively, they weigh up to 4.5 lbs. Our gut fauna functions as a chemical producing factory that helps with digestion, regulation of hormone release and the removal of toxic materials. When this so-called factory isn’t working properly, many health problems may arise.
You’ve probably heard people referring to their “gut feeling”, ascribing some sentience to their digestive tract. Well, that may very well be because the nervous system that operates the gut has the second largest amount of neurons in our body (500.000, five times as many as in the spinal cord) and it works independently- though in constant communication- with the brain, so much so that it is often referred to as our “second brain”.
What kind of problems arise when our gut isn’t functioning properly?
The most common symptoms of a gut in disarray are diarrhea, constipation, stomach aches, rapid weight-gain or loss, as well as gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s and inflammatory bowel disease. But headaches, skin disease, fatigue and many other ailments may be the result of a dysfunctional gut. Many people go through a gauntlet of blood and breath tests to find the cause behind their suffering, but find nothing but frustration, as they’ve been looking in all the wrong places.
A series of studies on the topic has led to an increasing awareness to the connection between these issues and our gut microbiome. Additionally, medical consensus now is to look at the general functioning of the digestive tract, before diagnosing food allergy or sensitivity. By doing so, you can get a more complete picture of your condition, your sensitivities and the state of your gut microbiome.
How can you identify the issue?
So, what can you do with all of this information, and how do you translate it into a diagnosis with clear and actionable insights? The old stool tests doctors have been using are unreliable at best, as many of the bacteria in our gut cannot survive outside their habitat. It became clear to medical experts that a more advanced testing method was required in order to provide more accurate information about their patients, a method which will allow them to tailor a treatment to the patients’ unique needs.
This method, which allows mapping your gut flora and prescribing a treatment and diet according to your individual needs, actually exists. In essence, this microbiome test is also a stool test, but what makes it special is that by using an advanced DNA and/or RNA sequencing, it can give a more accurate picture of the microbes, fungi, parasites and viruses in an individual's gut, as well as measure pH levels and analyze enzymes. And, because all living organisms produce a genetic footprint, the test works even if the microbes themselves are no longer present in the stool.
This advanced technology and the high-resolution analysis it provides can also reveal emerging health issues that are yet to manifest symptoms, thus allowing you to treat and potentially get rid of the problem at its early stage of development.
A Highly-Personalized Dietary Treatment
Many people suffering from GI (gastrointestinal) problems may seek to change up their diet to alleviate symptoms, only to find that they’re completely in the dark about which foods trigger inflammation and which don’t, and dietitians can only make broad suggestions, as these trigger foods differ greatly between people, depending on one’s microbiome.
For about 8 months, Tammy was suffering from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea every day. Five doctors, several rounds of antibiotics and different diets all had no effect. It was only once she took a microbiome test that she found out she was regularly eating foods that were upsetting her gut, many of which were foods that are thought of as healthy, such as broccoli and spinach, but which her particular gut bacteria cannot break down. After changing her diet according to the test findings, her symptoms disappeared as suddenly as they emerged.
Who can benefit from microbiome testing, and where can you do it?
This comprehensive test is aimed at people who regularly suffer from bloating, stomachaches, constipation, diarrhea, Crohn's Disease, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive ailments. But because of the impact GI problems may have on other aspects of our health, people who suffer from autoimmune diseases, skin conditions and even neurological conditions, such as depression and anxiety, can also benefit from it.
The way it works is simple: a courier delivers you a kit to take a sample of your bowel movement at your own leisure. You then send the kit back to the lab for testing. In short time, you receive the test results along with comprehensive dietary recommendations through an app, which includes a full list of inflammatory foods to avoid and food that benefits your microbiome. And if you're worried about pricing, the test is very affordable, at only 200 USD.
So, if you’re wracking your brains trying to improve your gut functions and struggling to find out what your specific problem is, the microbiome test might be for you.