Microbiome self-tests: expensive analyzes without meaningful results

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Self-tests are all the rage. Anyone who wants to know more about the composition of their intestinal flora can also find offers on the Internet to analyze the so-called microbiome. They are intended to help solve unclear intestinal problems and optimize individual nutrition. For digestive problems such as a Irritable bowel syndromeallergies or susceptibility to infections, analysis is also useful.

Home stool test, provider assessment

The process is simple: you purchase a set of tests, collect a stool sample at home, send it to the supplier for analysis and receive an evaluation from them – including nutritional and action recommendations to optimize the intestinal microbiome.

Researchers see risks of financial exploitation

This is not supported by research, on the contrary. A group led by American scientist Diane Hoffmann of the University of Maryland School of Law sees consumers being financially exploited or harmed by microbiome analyses, for example, if they rely on inaccurate test results or nutritional recommendations that do not have a scientific basis.

According to the researchers’ research, there are 31 commercial suppliers across the world. Almost half of them also sell nutritional supplements, which they recommend to customers based on analysis. In the specialized magazine Science Hoffmann and his team call for regulation of this lifestyle industry and criticize the fact that providers do not have to prove the validity and benefits of tests.

Live healthy with Stiftung Warentest

Stool tests that make sense. Unlike microbiome self-tests, stool tests are established and useful for early detection of colon cancer. The costs are also covered by health insurance for those over 50 years of age. You can read more about this topic in our article Colon cancer prevention.

Strengthen the immune system. What weakens our defenses? Do you receive training or support? We answer these questions in our article This is how you tune your immune system. Our guide provides comprehensive information For a fit immune system.

Question additional preparations. Nutritional supplements are often unnecessary. We explain which Vitamins and minerals you need. We also regularly test various preparations. O Dietary supplements topic page shows our current research.

German specialized society advises against commercial testing

The German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS) described microbiome analyzes as in 2018 “expensive and useless”. “Not much has changed in this assessment,” says Birgit Terjung, chief physician of the department of internal medicine and gastroenterology at GFO Kliniken Bonn and DGVS media spokesperson. “These tests are in no way standardized or validated.” There is also no agreement on what constitutes a healthy gut microbiome. The microbiome is very individual – like a fingerprint.

“Therefore, it is very problematic to base additional recommendations about diet change or intake of pre- and probiotics or nutritional supplements on these stool analysis results,” explains Terjung. Gastroenterologists and family physicians often receive these self-tests from their patients.

Tips for consumers

  • Save money on commercial microbiome tests. The costs, starting from 150 euros, are determined by the legal health insurance companies not adopted.
  • For abdominal problems such as flatulence, cold or Diarrhea A nutritional record can initially help identify possible connections between symptoms and certain foods.
  • Always have any symptoms clarified by a doctor, especially if they persist or if there are alarm symptoms such as fever, blood in the stool, night sweats or significant unwanted weight loss.
  • Talk to your doctor before permanently changing your diet or Dietary supplements to take.

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