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BIOMES: What Can the DNA of Bacteria Tell Us About Human Health?

Our bodies have millions of bacteria, fungi and other microbial beings living on them at this very moment. The majority of them work in symbiosis with one another and present no major threat to our wellbeing. However, research has been mounting that the bacteria specific to our gut has a strong influence on our general health.

The American Psychological Association stated that gut bacteria manufacture about 95% of the body’s supply of serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone responsible for regulating our mood and digestion. With this in mind, it’s clear that the bacteria in our gut can impact all aspects of our mental and physical health.

Can We Improve Our General Health By Studying Our Gut?

“Our bacteria actually have many many functions for our health. So it’s not a big surprise that when they are in an imbalance we are not happy and healthy any longer. That can lead to serious problems such as obesity, I mean also all the digestive problems, depression.” -Christin Günther, CPO & Co-Founder of BIOMES.

Consuming health foods is one of the top ways to maintain balance in your gut bacteria.

If you were so inclined, one could categorise certain bacteria as “friendly.” One common example of a bacterial buddy is Lactobacillus – a bacteria regularly found in the gut. Lactobacillus is responsible for a process that breaks down lactose (the sugar responsible for milk’s sweet taste) and people who have issues digesting dairy may have an imbalance of this bacteria. But your gut doesn’t only host bacteria – it’s a diverse ecosystem of fungi, protozoa and viruses. So, how can we put this knowledge to good use in terms of our health?

Carbiotix & BIOMES – How Startups Are Educating People on Healthy Bacteria

There are several startups looking to put this information in the hands of consumers. One company that’s leading the charge is Carbiotix. Carbiotix, founded by Kristofer Cook, has developed an affordable test that can be delivered to anyone on a monthly basis. The low-cost at-home sample kit enables users to understand the balance of healthy bacteria in their digestive tracts with efficiency and ease.

Carbiotix’s goal is to provide longitudinal perspectives on individuals’ biomes so that they can make better-informed healthcare decisions. It focuses heavily on monitoring dietary fibre, a commonly overlooked and crucial nutrient. Over time, the tool provides a picture of what could be considered the normal biome balance for any individual.

BIOMES developed the INTEST.pro to inform customers about their own health.

Another startup tackling this issue is BIOMES. Founded in Salzburg, Austria, it has developed its own at-home gut biome analysis kit called Intest.pro.

The results of the test give a 20-page analysis of the types of bacteria and vitamins that are in your gut, the volume present and how that compares to what is considered healthy. It also offers a detailed analysis of what the cause of imbalance could be and what dietary changes could rebalance that specific population. In their first year of functioning, BIOMES sold over 10,000 tests. These take-home tests are available online and through pharmacists. All you have to do is take a small sample and send it to the lab for testing. That, according to BIOMES co-founder Christin Gunther, is where “the magic starts.”

“[S]o then we do the next-generation sequencing, the data processing, the interpretation, and only two weeks later the customer logs in and activates his profile and gets the results.”

Many people around the world struggle with illnesses linked to gut health imbalance, such as IBS, allergies and depression. While gut health is only one facet of general health and should be considered along with other biological factors, paying closer attention to what’s happening with our intestinal roommates could revolutionize how we address health issues.

Sources: NIH, Nature, TechCrunch, APA, HSPH Harvard, NCBI, BMC & BIOMES

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