Gone are sweeping, one-size-fits-all solutions. Today, it’s all about personalisation. And companies such as Atlas Biomed are taking it further than your usual likes and dislikes questionnaire – they’re using information from your own body to help you improve your health and wellbeing. Their Microbiome test, is a piece of kit which you use at home to collect personal matter from which your gut bacteria will be tested. When I say personal matter, it’s the most personal you can imagine – it’s your poo. Who knew the secrets to your health was found in faecal matter, hey?
Everybody loves to find out more about themselves, me included. And with gut bacteria apparently impacting anything and everything from depression to autism, I was keen to find out what my gut bacteria said about me (I’m so excited to be trying this out – it was even on my 2018 Christmas Wish List!).
Not that long before writing this article, I found myself shitting on a piecec of paper and scooping bits up with a tiny spatula to stuff into a test tube. No, this isn’t a new type of fetish, but the first stages of understanding more about your gut microbiome. It felt weird but absolutely manageable (having two kids has helped me deal with poo) and the instructions were clear and easy to follow. I must admit, as I was digging bits of poo from the sample, I did spend some moments wondering what exactly I’d eaten to make it look how it did. I also spent some moments dithering as to which part of the poo I should provide – from the ends, from the middle, from each of the different coloured parts? In the end, I went with a bit of everything. And apologies to those who are of faint heart, but I don’t believe in holding back.
Once you’ve stuffed your poo into the test tube provided, you’re required to seal and shake it all up with the liquid already in there. There’s a ball bearing in there too so you can really mash it up. You’ve got to shake it as fast and as hard as you can for a minimum of 30 seconds which is a lot longer than you’d think. I timed it.
I’d already registered the barcode number on the Atlas Biomed site so all that was left was to place it in the sealable bag (tip: squeeze the air out of it before you seal it), place it in the plastic box the equipment came in and then place that back in the box your kit arrived in. It’s quite marvellous how the box it comes in ends up as the pre-paid envelope for you to return it. You’ve then got 2 weeks to post it back, although I decided there would be nothing more awful than having a shitty test tube hanging about so I popped it into the post that day. Also, because I hadn’t read the instructions properly before doing the test, I’d imagined that I’d have to send it off immediately so I spent a few days trying to work out the perfect timings for the perfect ‘poo, seal and send’ moment.
Test results come back in 4-5 weeks and you can track the progress in your account on the website.
Note: The paper you use to poo on can be pushed into the toilet and after a few minutes, you can flush it away. How cool!
Note to self: Remember to flush the toilet. Don’t just run out to post your poo sample and forget about the pooey paper. My husband came back, went into the toilet, almost screamed and is now scarred for life.
Why I’m doing this
More and more research is demonstrating that your microbiome is responsible for greatly impacting your health and like most people, I’m keen to do what I can to improve my health. I believe diet plays an important role in our overall health and I’m convinced mine needs improving but having some guidance on this would be a good starting place.
As a mum to two boys also, I imagine that since we’re all eating the same thing, the state of my gut microbiome would be similar to theirs. So if I can improve mine, I can improve theirs too. I especially love to discover why exactly, my youngest is producing the most foul-smelling shits. I’ve no idea if this test will be able to do that exactly, but it might help me improve them.
I’m willing to bet money that the test will say the following:
I don’t eat a diverse range of food. With a full-on schedule, I’ve been sticking with what’s easy to make and doesn’t take much thought and for me that’s a lot of pasta and rice dishes. Vegetables are usually peas or broccoli and protein is normally cheese or fish (and even that’s limited – I stick to tuna and salmon).
My bacteria types are limited – I’m imagining this would be because of my limited range of food and also because I’m not providing them with enough to eat. I know that foods such as artichoke, kefir, kombucha and kimchi are good for these little creatures yet I’ll generally stick to store-made products and only eat them when I remember.
The Atlast Biomed Microbiome test is available to buy online from www.atlastbiomed.com/uk for £149. They also have a DNA testing kit available too.