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What’s in your gut? Scientific advances in the last decade show that a diverse host of microorganisms that live in our digestive systems serve both good and bad roles in our overall health. Gut microbiome testing is one way to find out what’s right for you.
If you suffer from chronic stomach problems, are curious about your gut makeup, or want to contribute to ongoing gut-related DNA research, read our microbiome testing reviews to learn more.
- What Is The Gut Microbiome?
- What Does Gut Microbiome Testing Involve?
- Best Gut Microbiome Testing Companies
- How Can I Keep My Gut Healthy?
- Can Probiotics Help?
- Other At-Home Health Testing Kits
The gut microbiome is a community of microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and archaea, that resides in our gastrointestinal (GI) tracts. These microbes have specific genes unique to their “bodies,” much like each human has a unique set of genes. Scientists call the full collection of genes of all the microbes in a community a microbiome.
Within each human microbiome, all of the different types of microbes interact with each other — and with their environment (like organisms in Earth’s ecosystems).
Scientists know that a normal, balanced microbiome is essential for maintaining human health, and when a significant shift in that balance occurs, it can contribute to health problems and disease.
Gut testing involves sequencing the genes of the microbes that reside in your GI tract. How does this work? To put it plainly, these tests require a sample of your poop.
No, you don’t have to poop in a cup. But these testing kits require you to take a swab from your used toilet paper and place the swab with your fecal sample in a tube. You seal the tube and send it to the lab in the packaging they provide. This process differs slightly based on the company.
How Long Before I Get Results?
The lab does a human gut microbiome analysis of your sample and sends you results, typically within 4 to 6 weeks, but results take longer for some companies.
We ranked companies based on reputation, the reliability of results, the type of information you get in your results, pricing, customer support, and other factors.
Viome’s Gut Intelligence Test uses metatranscriptomic analysis to sequence all the RNA in your stool and identify all living gut microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, bacteriophages, archaea, fungi, yeast, parasites, etc.) at a species and strain level. They also measure the metabolites your microbes produce after you’ve eaten.
Results include a detailed breakdown of the microorganisms in your gut and a personalized food, nutrition, and lifestyle recommendation to improve your gut and overall health. Viome’s website has detailed result examples to give you an idea of the information you’ll receive. However, unlike other companies, Viome doesn’t compare your gut composition with a database, so you won’t know how your gut makeup compares to others.
|Analyzes more types of microorganisms than other tests||The website doesn’t explain how you collect your sample|
|Nationally-accredited CLIA lab||Doesn’t have its own database for comparison (or compare against other databases)|
|Get results within 3-4 weeks||Some users complain that they received generic (common sense) advice that isn’t unique|
|Customers report good experiences with support||No access to your raw data|
|Some customers feel they’ve been able to improve their digestion, sleep, and mood as well as lower inflammation|
|Re-test at a steep discount whenever you’d like|
|Scientific Advisory Board includes leading doctors, scientists, and experts from Harvard, UCLA, and more|
Ombre (formerly known as Thryve) launched its testing service in early 2017 and has had a good track record since its inception. Their gut bacteria test kit sequences 16S rRNA to discover which bacteria live in your gut down to a species level.
Your results include a report of your bacterial microbiome’s makeup, including which healthy bacteria are low and which known pathogens are high. You also get a wellness score based on your results compared to data from the American Gut Project.
Ombre differs from other companies we review here in that you get personalized daily dietary and supplement recommendations.
|Simple, at-home swab with mail-in envelope||Only tests for bacteria; no other microbes (no archaea, viruses, or fungi)|
|Nationally certified lab||They compare against American Gut’s database of samples, which is relatively small|
|Get results in 2-3 weeks via their app||No pricing for personalized probiotics on their website (you can only see pricing once you’ve done your test and get recommendations)|
|Offers personalized probiotics that are non-GMO, gluten-free, egg-free, and corn-free|
|Mostly positive feedback for customer service|
|Scientific Advisory Board includes leading doctors, scientists, and nutrition experts from Stanford, Harvard, UC-Davis, and more|
- Gut Health Test $99
- Endless Energy $39
- Healthy Gut $39
- Metabolic Booster $39
- Rise $49
Dr. Mahmoud A. Ghannoum founded BIOHM based on more than 40 years of NIH-backed research into the human microbiome. BIOHM’s gut test sequences the genes of the bacteria and fungi in your gut.
Your results include a profile of your gut makeup compared to normal levels of bacterial strains from the NIH Human Microbiome Project and fungal strains from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
You can also receive diet and lifestyle recommendations from a registered nutritionist for an additional fee. BIOHM also sells its own probiotics, engineered to address the critical role fungus plays in digestive health.
|Simple, at-home swab with mail-in envelope||Doesn’t have its own database|
|You can consult with a registered nutritionist for diet and lifestyle advice||Results are too scientific and can be confusing for most people|
|Lab certified and affiliated with a major U.S. research university||Up to 6 weeks to get results|
|Their probiotics generally get good customer reviews||Some consumers complain about them pushing their products too much|
- $179.99 for a gut test kit and written personalized plan
- $219.99 for a gut test kit and live consult with a nutritionist
- $32.99-$89.99 per probiotic supplement
- View all options
uBiome used to be the top contender for gut microbiome testing. But unfortunately, uBiome is no longer in business. They filed bankruptcy in September of 2019 after undergoing an FBI investigation into their business practices and other problems. Shortly after that, they closed their doors for good and sold off their IP (intellectual property, i.e., patents) for 1% of the company’s original value (they were once valued at $600 million by Silicon Valley) at auction to Psomagen.
According to an expert at UCLA, check out this brief video for tips on how to keep your gut microbiome healthy.
If you’re frequently suffering from digestive problems or have a diagnosed condition, the right probiotics can make a difference in improving your gut microbiome. Proceed carefully, however, as there are plenty of products on the market that either doesn’t work or are downright detrimental to your health. See if there have been scientific studies done on the kits and research the company before purchasing. Questions to ask – how long have they been in existence, where are they based, etc.
Two of the companies we review, BIOHM and Thryve, sell their own engineered probiotics. Another probiotic that has received some acclaim is Restore for Gut Health — you can view a report on them at the NIH. It claims to relieve a host of health issues, including heartburn, leaky gut, and migraines, as well as soothing gluten intolerance. Read our review of ION Gut Health to learn more.
Gut microbiome testing is just one of a handful of at-home DNA tests you can take to discover more about your overall health. If you’re interested in what else you can learn, be sure to read our article on the best DNA testing for health reasons. We include reviews of the most popular health-related DNA tests, including 23andMe, TeloYears, and more.
Also, check out our review of Everlywell, a company that offers a wide range of at-home testing kits to check your metabolism, food sensitivities, vitamin and hormone levels, and much more.Tagged With: Gut Health