Microbiome Testing and Personalized Wellness

uBiome, once a prominent player in the microbiome testing market, encountered challenges and controversies that culminated in bankruptcy. However, the void left by uBiome has been filled by many new companies offering microbiome home tests. These tests, ranging in cost from $50 to almost $1,000, are provided by companies including ZOE, Floré, Ombre, Thorne, Verisana, and Wellnicity. Their primary appeal lies in their convenience, allowing individuals to collect their stool samples discreetly, ship them, and receive personalized reports within weeks. It's essential to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve these home test kits, and they should not replace professional medical diagnosis or consultation with healthcare providers.

Among these companies, Viome emphasizes personalized nutrition recommendations based on microbiome analysis, taking a holistic approach to health and wellness. ZOE offers advanced analysis of gut bacteria, blood sugar, and blood fats, using DNA sequencing to analyze gut microbes. Floré focuses on full-spectrum microflora analysis, scanning over 23,000 microorganisms, while Verisana specializes in leaky gut syndrome testing.

Recent research has linked various microbes to wellness, including associations with obesity, Type-2 diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis. In some sense, gut microbiota can even be seen as an additional hallmark of human aging and neurodegeneration.



A new study by ZOE, in collaboration with King's College London, has further explored the complex relationship between irregular sleep patterns and gut health. This research, the first of its kind, found multiple associations between social jet lag and factors such as diet quality, inflammation, and gut microbiome composition. The findings suggest that even minor variations in sleep can significantly impact the gut microbiome and overall well-being, emphasizing the need for intervention trials.


ZOE's personalized nutrition program, costing around $360, teaches individuals how to make smart food combinations using insights from their tests. The company has also commissioned a clinical trial to validate their program against standardized nutrition advice, with results to be published in 2023.

While the excitement around microbiome testing continues to grow, it's vital to approach it with caution. Analyzing the gut microbiome individually may become standard medical practice in the future, but until then, the safest health investment remains the tried-and-true advice: eat more vegetables, exercise, and reduce stress. Your gut will thank you.


REFERENCES

Kate M. Bermingham, Sophie Stensrud, Francesco Asnicar, Ana M. Valdes, Paul W. Franks, Jonathan Wolf, George Hadjigeorgiou, Richard Davies, Tim D. Spector, Nicola Segata, Sarah E. Berry & Wendy L. Hall Kate Bermingham et al,  Exploring the relationship between social jetlag with gut microbial composition, diet and cardiometabolic health, in the ZOE PREDICT 1 cohort European Journal of Nutrition (2023). DOI: 10.1007/s00394-023-03204-x

Kho ZY, Lal SK. The human gut microbiome–a potential controller of wellness and disease. Frontiers in microbiology. 2018 Aug 14;9:1835.

Molinero N, Antón A, Hernández F, Ávila J, Bartolomé B, Moreno-Arribas MV. Gut microbiota, an additional hallmark of human aging and neurodegeneration. Neuroscience. 2023 Mar 8.

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