Out of the six uBiome gut samples I took before, during, and after a 12-day Elixa Probiotics (ElixaFTA.com) regimen (posts here, here, and here) I’ve received the results on five of them. One sample was damaged in shipment (the final test, 2 weeks from completing the course) and uBiome has sent a replacement. Still waiting on results from American Gut (one of which was taken from exactly the same poop sample as the uBiome kit that was damaged).
We’re still looking to crunch raw data and taxonomy, but I can pretty much tell it’s about what I always thought of these tests. They really don’t tell you much useful, they don’t seem to correlate with anything concrete I can think of, and they’re all over the map. For instance, in my first test, my “diversity” was in the 80th percentile. Jump for joy, right? Well, then 10 days later, the next test (and this was right before even starting Elixa), and diversity is 12th percentile.
Then, during the Elixa 12-day course, in the first week, massive shifts in bacteriodetes and firmicutes, The former went from 30 to 80% of my microbiome and the latter, correspondingly, from 66 to 16%, so basically a complete reversal in the space of a week. Elixa? Well, perhaps, but then another week, i.e., at completion of the course, firmicutes were up to 30%. If Elixa were the cause of reducing them so dramatically after 1 week, then seems like they should have at least stayed there the 2nd week, not basically doubled.
This is all without further analysis (just realized I had results yesterday) or with digging into it with Karl at Elixa, or anyone else. I’m trying to get stuff into MG-Rast, but it’s a government funded deal, so it’s like working with websites designed in 1995.
Getting the AmGut results are likely to shed even more confusion on the whole deal, since I believe it was Tim Steele who submitted swabs to both uBiome and AmGut from the same TP swipe, and got significantly different results. But this had to be done and who knows, perhaps there will be earth shattering information, but I doubt it. Now, at least I’ll be able to say that I did the tests, showed the results. But then I’ll add that your diet is probably the most profound influencer, and the Elixa probiotics might be useful and if they help you with some problem: make you feel better, sleep better, poop better, or have better skin, then use them from time to time. Of course, there are many self-reported anecdotes in the various posts attesting to exactly those effects, with damn few reporting negative outcomes, or no effects. Perhaps the best indicator is the significant number of re-orders Karl is getting.
…I’ll suggest that this graph might actually be the best indicator of overall gut health for me. It’s a Function chart based on the sequenced bacteria, as some species are better at some things than others. Click on the image for the larger size.
What that looks like to me is a pretty functional gut for a wide variety of things like carb metabolism, amino acid metabolism, etc. And when compared to the general population, no big surprises except that I’m apparently more functional than average at carbohydrate metabolism and less functional in fatty acid metabolism.
I think at this point I’ll hold off on taking the uBiome replacement test until I do something remarkable, like perhaps the potato diet for a week or two. If the test is way different from the general baseline I’ve established, might tell us something.
More later, should digging into the analysis bring up anything noteworthy.
My main reason for posting this is for a note of caution in the bright-eyedness of this stuff. I fell into it myself, for a while. But when you’re dealing with something like 3 million genes, or whatever it is, 500-1,000 species in 100 trillion bugs, there just might be enough diversity to claim anything you want. It just comes down to finding and emphasizing that one species that’s your magic species or demon species, or whatever, and you’ve made your case.
You won’t get that here. How you feel, sleep, digest food and eliminate are the solid results you want to focus on.