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Gut health is a hot topic right now. But how can you assess the health of the gut? The two most common types of testing are CDSA, or stool testing, and microbiome testing.
Each form of testing has its own benefits and uses. So let’s take a closer look at how they work and which might be for you and your child.
Watch the video below or keep reading to learn more about stool and microbiome testing.
What does gut health mean?
Gut health is a pretty vague term, so what is it? For such a simple term, gut health is an incredibly complex area. It can refer to:
- How the food is digested and nutrients are processed
- The structural integrity of the gut lining, including leaky gut
- The balance of the gut microbes, or microbiome
Each of these can have a massive impact on overall wellbeing. So for the purpose of this article, we’ll be focusing on the balance of gut microbes and the many roles they can play in your body.
Can we measure a healthy gut?
If gut health is so complex, is it something we can really measure? There are some things that we can measure for.
When it comes to specific conditions such as Coeliac disease or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), there are specific tests that can be used. These can prove that the condition does or does not exist in your body.
But when it comes to overall gut health, it can be a little trickier.
One area that is of particular interest at the moment is the microbiome. Microbiome actually refers to all of the microbes that reside in the body, including those found on the skin, in oral cavities and even in the vagina.
But the most populated area of the body is in the colon. This area of the microbiome is believed to have the most significant influence on health.
The gut microbiome can be made up of bacteria, fungi, yeasts and even parasites. Different microbes can have a different effect on your health. Some are beneficial, and some can make you sicker.
By testing the microbes in your gut, we can start to take a look at how healthy your gut might be, and steps to optimise your gut health.
Why would you use microbiome testing?
We don’t suggest testing just for the sake of it. Our rule of thumb is if the test doesn’t change the recommendations we would make, then it may not be worthwhile.
With that in mind, there are different reasons for testing the microbiome and stools. Some include:
- Food allergies and intolerances
- Inflammatory conditions in the gut
- Behavioural issues
- Mental health conditions that aren’t responding to standard treatment
- Other chronic conditions that gut health can have an influence on
- Suspected infections with pathogenic bacteria, parasites or fungi
CDSA stool testing
If you’ve been to a practitioner in the past, you might have been given a stool test. Until recently, stool tests typically used culture-based testing techniques, commonly known as CDSA.
CDSA testing involves a stool sample being sent to a lab. From there, they grow cultures to see what types of microbes are present. This method of testing relies on the microbes staying alive and consistent throughout transport to the lab.
CDSA testing can give you great insight into some health concerns. For example, if you think you’ve picked up a parasite while travelling overseas, this test can help to identify a parasite infection. It’s also commonly used for yeast overgrowth or fungal infections.
But where it can be less helpful is identifying the makeup and health of the microbiome. Previously, this test was believed to show the balance of good microbes. But now it’s been shown that many beneficial microbes don’t grow successfully in a laboratory culture.
So in fact, CDSA only gives us a small snippet of the bigger picture of gut health.
Modern microbiome testing
Over the past 20 years, the technology around microbiome testing has evolved rapidly. This has allowed for further research into gut health. But it also means that higher-quality testing is now available to a wider population.
This new technology tests the microbiome differently to a CDSA. It tests the DNA and genes of the microbes in the gut via the stool.
You take the stool sample in the comfort of your own home, then send it off to the testing centre. As it isn’t culture-based, the microbes don’t have to be live when the sample arrives.
This type of testing gives you a wider picture of the types of microbes in your gut, as well as the roles they play throughout the body. Different microbes can influence digestion, the nervous system, inflammation and skin health as just a few examples!
The results allow you to take a more personalised approach to whatever is going on. As practitioners, it allows us to narrow down the advice to address your specific situation.
You’ll receive an overall score of gut health, as well as finding out which types of microbes are present. It also provides you with a diversity score – the goal is to have as much diversity as possible.
Microbiome testing is recommended for people aged 2 years and older. This is because from birth until 2 years, the microbiome is still growing and forming. By age 2, the microbiome settles into consistency.
How can you interpret microbiome testing?
As this is a new technology and new research comes out every day, microbiome testing can be difficult to interpret yourself. That’s why it’s important to work with a practitioner who stays up to date with the latest information.
Testing is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to your health. You want to have a practitioner who listens to your story, takes a thorough case study, and then uses that information in conjunction with test results for personalised advice.
Exciting news! We now offer Microbiome Testing here at Natural Super Kids.
MetaBiome™ is a comprehensive gut microbiome test, which provides a complete picture of the microbes in the gut and their functional potential. It can provide insight not only into the spectrum of microbes living in the gut but also their potential activity.
Our MetaBiome test package is $479 and includes:
- Metabiome Test Kit posted to you
- Metabiome stool test
- Postage (we post the test kit to you and you post your sample to Microba reply paid)
- A consult with one of our Naturopaths to discuss your results and provide recommendations to improve your microbiome and overall health.