Sunday, May 5, 2019

Jenni's Gut Biome Test

Earlier this year I was contacted by Onegevity, a company that provides cutting-edge microbiome sequencing and artificial intelligence to decode the mysteries in your gut.  Yeah, I totally pulled that from their website. :)  Anyway, they asked if I would be interested in obtaining an analysis of my gut's microbiome.  I was intrigued as to what this might actually show about what's happening inside me since I seem to be somewhat of a medical mystery. They said they would send me one of their new at-home test kits called Gutbio and that this test would examine 7 trillion bacteria using AI to provide me with targeted and comprehensive solutions for managing my gut health issues. Sounds good right? I thought so.

Now before I get into this further, let's have a little lesson on what exactly your gut's microbiome is anyway. Because honestly, I didn't really know. I waded through a lot of medically heavy information and found a great article that you can read in it's entirety HERE.  If you don't want to read the whole article, here is the relatively simple definition of what your gut microbiome is:

Your ‘gut microbiome’ is made up of the trillions of microorganisms and their genetic material that live in your intestinal tract. These microorganisms, mainly comprising bacteria, are involved in functions critical to your health and wellbeing. These bacteria live in your digestive system and they play a key role in digesting food you eat, and they help with absorbing and synthesizing nutrients too. Gut bugs are involved in many other important processes that extend beyond your gut, including your metabolism, body weight, and immune regulation, as well as your brain
functions and mood.  There are many factors that influence the type and amount of bacteria we host and although most of us belong to a certain ‘enterotype’ – similar to having a certain blood type – each person has a unique bacterial footprint.

The Gutbio test was going to analyze all these little bacteria and "gut bugs" inside my intestines and provide me with some answers about what's really going on in there.  It's highly technical and way above my capacity to totally understand or explain, but I was really excited to see what this different kind of testing had to say about my health. Especially considering most of my lab tests come back normal - or at least not bad enough to warrant alarm or treatment of any kind.  So I said yes, please, send me your test. 

In just a few days, I received this in the mail:

All of this was inside:

It looks complicated but it was actually super easy. You basically just take the little tube and put a very small amount of poop in the top of it, screw on the lid and shake it up. Then you place the tube back in the enclosed envelope, seal it, and mail it back. Super easy. Not messy at all. Way cleaner than any other stool tests I have ever done. It was so easy and simple, in fact, that I actually wondered if I did it wrong.  It seemed like something so technical should be harder. But it was really just that easy.

About three weeks later, I received a telephone call from the doctor at Onegevity telling me they found something strange in my results. Something they had only seen in a very small percentage of the people that had done the test. Well shit! I figured I really did do the test wrong.  But he explained what they found and this meant that I had apparently done the test correctly.  I'll get to what they found in a minute.

About a month after I mailed them my poop, I received an email telling me I could log in to the Onegevity site and view my results. The first page said "Onegevity's metagenomic sequencing has examined the abundance, type, and balance of more than 39 trillion microbial cells in your body, resulting in the generation of 6 GB of unique data and insights on you and your microbiome."   Okay, sure. Honestly, I thought I was going to have to channel my inner Amy Farrah Fowler to comprehend everything, but as I read on, the information was actually explained very well and I was able to decipher some really cool things from the results.  It was all broken down fairly simply into various categories.

💩  The first category showed I currently have a minimal inflammation score.  This confirms my Crohn's disease is in remission right now. Good news. This section went into further detail with a neat little graph and chart detailing high and low levels of various bacteria in my gut so I know which ones I need to increase and which ones I need to decrease.

💩  Next, I showed a very low risk for constipation. I mean, seriously now, did we doubt this??

💩  In contrast to my constipation risk, I showed a very high risk for diarrhea.  Umm, duh!!  This actually has a scale of 0-33 with 33 being the highest risk. I scored a 33. I feel like such an overachiever!

💩  The next category was particularly interesting to me. It was my diversity score and I actually scored very low. So low in fact, that only 3% of those tested scored lower than me.  So much for being an overachiever.  So what does this mean?  Well, "studies show that individuals with low gut microbial diversity are at greater risk for certain adverse conditions. Healthy individuals tend to have high gut microbial diversity, while less healthy individuals tend to show reduced microbial diversity." I guess they are saying I'm technically not very healthy.  But I kind of knew that already.   Good new though, this score can be altered and improved by varying your diet.  Bad news, I am very limited in what I can eat. So many foods cause me trouble, including nausea, increased diarrhea, and all different types of pain, so I tend to choose my meals from a very limited selection.  The fact that this test actually showed proof of my restricted diet, eliminated some of the doubt I was having as the legitimacy of these results. Seriously, how could a fingernail sized amount of poop allow them to know that I don't eat a very wide variety of foods?  That's science right there, my friends!

💩  Moving on, I found out I am very low in Niacin or Vitamin B3. After looking at the symptoms of Niacin deficiency, it stands to reason that it would be more than beneficial for me to increase my intake of this vitamin immediately because I do experience some of these deficiency symptoms already.  So good to know.

💩  The results went on to list all the probiotics that I am either in the optimal or low range on.  This result makes it super easy to know exactly what you need. So instead of just picking up a generic "one size fits all" type of probiotic at the store, I can get the exact probiotics my body is lacking.  Super neat.  I've never had much luck taking probiotics in the past, so I am wondering if that was because I was taking the wrong ones.  Maybe over doing it on ones I didn't need and not getting enough of the ones I actually do need.

💩  The next result was what the doctor had called me about before I even received my results.  It was my pathogen screening.  This is the information you have been waiting for right here!  This is the part of the test that shows gross things like E-coli, Giardia, H. Pylori, etc. I tested negative for everything except one thing. I tested positive for Salmonella. What this means is somewhere along the line I contracted Salmonella from something I ate. I always make a joke when eating something potentially shady and risk getting food poisoning by saying, "What's it going to do, give me diarrhea? How would I even know if I got sick?"  Well, apparently that exact thing happened and I did get food poisoning and didn't even know it.  The doctor who called me wanted to know if I was experiencing diarrhea or had been recently ill. I told him my history with Crohn's disease and explained to him that I always have diarrhea - all the time, every time.  He said that I should probably discuss these findings with my primary doctor or GI and possibly be specifically tested for Salmonella again just to be sure that I didn't currently have a problem.  He said that what this test was picking up was the DNA showing that I had contracted Salmonella at some point, but they couldn't narrow down exactly when.  Hmmm.  I have yet to discuss this with Dr. GI because I don't have an appointment until later this month.  I didn't feel it necessary to rush right over there and freak out about it because I don't feel any different than my normal, but I will be mentioning this to him when I go see him.

💩  The final category was the community breakdown of my poop. Over 87% was bacteria of sorts, good and bad - all those gut bugs that are supposed to be there, or not. Various other minute percentages of DNA from animals, plants, viruses, fungi and human DNA were also listed. This is the normal poop make up, I would imagine.  Then, it showed nearly 11% of my poop was from an unknown source "uncharacterized by scientists".  So there is that.

All of this information was compiled into neat little graphs and charts with explanations that were fairly easy to understand. Everything was followed up with suggestions about different probiotics and vitamins that would help to increase in the specific areas I was lacking. There was also a specific diet suggestion, which I have yet to look further into this as of this posting, and the standard disclaimer about getting adequate exercise and rest.  (Right - I am literally writing this at 1:47 AM!)

All in all this process was really interesting and informative.  It required very minimal effort on my part which I loved.  Getting the results simply by logging into the website was very convenient.  The graphs, charts and explanations helped me figure out exactly what the results meant and the suggestions for diet and supplements at the end wrapped everything up nicely.  The only bad part about the whole thing was that a lot of the information is somewhat technical.  The breakdown of each specific bacteria and probiotic was a little overwhelming, but if you take the time to read the explanations provided it does help.

I will be taking these results to my doctor and hope to go over them a little more in detail with him.  Even though he didn't order this test, and when I originally had asked him about doing it he didn't seem to know what kind of information a gut biome test would even be able to provide, I think it will be interesting to hear his opinion about the results.  I'm sure, like me, he won't be surprised by much of the results - except maybe the salmonella thing.

So that's it. That's what happened when I did my Onegevity Gut Bio test. I would be interested in doing this test again in a year to see if the results are similar or if anything has changed. This test was definitely way better and more interesting than your average stool test.  Maybe you should try it too.

1 comment:

Vern Laine said...

Cool information, I might have to try this now ����‍♂️