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Microbiome test kits – a thorough checkup, round 2

MyMicrobiome tested kits again
MyMicrobiome tested microbiome analysis kits again.

Again, we investigated on a couple of microbiome test kits. >>> Our first evaluation round, 2018 showed that general standards for analysis and testing are strongly needed to ensure comparable results. This is even more important as the clients falling back to this method hope for clarification of specific health issues (and are often disappointed by the lacking medical relevance of the outcome).

So, this time we went a bit more into detail, took into account the scientific background and worked with a test person that came with a wide range of symptoms. We compared general criteria and quality of methods. Besides, we wanted to find out if the results match the diagnose of the test person and if the dietary recommendations are useful.  

We have included the following companies in our test run

Since this year's test report has clearly become too detailed, we have uploaded individual evaluations for you. Just click on the corresponding provider and download as PDF:

  • Atlas Biomed, a health company from London, UK
    (founded 2016) (test rerun)
  • BIOMES, biotech company from Berlin, Germany 
    (founded 2017) (winner of our first test round in 2018)
  • Elsavie, trademark of TFTAK (Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies, CFFT, microbiome tests since 2012) from Tallinn, Estonia
    (trademark founded in 2019) (test rerun)
  • myBioma, Start-up from Vienna, Austria 
    (founded 2018)
  • VIOME, US-american company 
    (founded 2016)

Our test person

Our test person is male, a bit more than 50 years old and underweight. The stool type varied between Bristol 2, 4 and 6 in the days prior to testing and was type 2 on the test day.

  • Intolerances: lactose, milk protein, fructose, coffee, and alcohol
  • Symptoms: intestinal colic, diarrhea, flatulence, stomach ache, head ache, exhaustion, depression
  • Diagnose based on an allergenic and metabolic analysis: mitochondriopathies and Leaky-Gut-Syndrome
  • Nutrition: wholesome organic, with a lot of vegetables, free from fruits and glutens, organic meat

 

What we checked

1. Sideshow assessment
  • Price
  • Order
  • Availability
  • Website language
  • Handling
  • Shipping
  • Evaluation time
2. Assessment: quality of methods of analysis and evaluation
  • Stabilizer included?
  • Blank sample included?
  • Method of identification
  • Taxonomic level (down to strain level?)
  • Quality of database used?
  • Questionnaire on personal details included?
  • Disclaimer, pointing out that the test is merely a lifestyle product and not meant for medical purposes
3. Results
  • Output format
  • Structure
  • Understandability (for laypersons)
  • Scientific derivation
  • List of literature available?
  • Is there a list of all microbes identified with shares in percentage?
  • Are the nutrition recommendations helpful and individual and is there an offer for personal consultancy (weighed twice)

Additional: Comparison of the outcomes / raw data regarding the test person’s main issue (Leaky Gut Syndrome)

Summary

Pretty much all of the companies can be counted as “young”, so they might go through developmental processes. In almost every case, the communication with MyMicrobiome was fantastic. Only for VIOME, we have to say that customer communication was not existent. Apart from VIOME, all providers were interested in our test runs, replied to our questions and it turned out that they all go through processes of constant improvement. We took our time with the evaluations and checked for improvements after a while, which were partly delivered promptly.

Each test kit and every analysis come with strengths and weaknesses. In total, we set up 21 criteria that we evaluation with “excellent”, “good”, “potential for improve” or “improvement strongly recommended”. For the final evaluation, we took the assessment with the highest share and weighed every “excellent” double. The number of total credits regarding informative value was added to the general points. If companies tied for the highest rank, we chose to rank the company first that reached an “excellent” evaluation. Regarding the ranking, we awarded the places according to the worst evaluation achieved when companies tied. (Example: Atlas Biomed and VIOME added up to 11x “good” each, so we took into account the number of “improvement strongly recommended” to align the total rank).

Conclusively, we analyze what might have caused the different results of raw data, as almost every company is working with the same method of identification. First, the way of taking the sample might be improved. Second, for a standardized microbiome analysis, the focus would have to put on the underlying databases and algorithms.

And only after a thorough redesign and extended analysis by more custom-fit algorithms and artificial intelligence (which we are no experts for, though), it would make sense to expect individual specifications from the results. Because also the nutrition recommendation did not seem to have any correlation to the answers given in the questionnaire. Often, the personal constitution regarding intolerances was not taken into account. Besides, the test person does indeed follow the very recommendations for several years, already (apart from foods covered by the intolerance) and has not experienced any relief in his symptoms, so far. This seems to prove that for serious illnesses like the Leaky-Gut-Syndrome, only integral diagnostics can help.

Leaky-Gut-Syndrom

We have only roughly summarized the results here on the website. Download our complete test report for more detailed information:

Download the overall evaluation

A detailed overview of all results can be downloaded here as PDF.

Last, but not least, we would like to emphasize the importance of the scientific method in terms of health improve offers on the free market. If you want to benefit from the test without further medical assistance, you should definitely pay attention to that before spending money on it.

The ongoing processes of microbiome research are very exciting and future-bound to us. This is why we stick to our mission of assessing tests and reporting on it on a regular basis.

Stefanie Wiesshak, Author
Stefanie Wiesshak
Author

Stefanie Wisshak worked as a technical assistant in microbiology and biochemistry and also studied geosciences at the University of Stuttgart. Today she offers freelance copywriting, editing and design.

Kristin Neumann, academic supervision
Dr. Kristin Neumann
Academic supervision

Author & Co-Founder MyMicrobiome.info
Developed the first and only standard for Microbiome friendly cosmetics and personal care products and also probiotic food supplements.

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