In these trying times, it’s more important than ever to know if your immune system is strong. Although the mouth, nose, eyes, and skin are the initial first lines of defense that protect us from illness, our immune system is also regulated by our gut microbiome and its health should be a top priority too.

Both the structure of the GI tract and the microorganisms that populate it play a role in immune function. In other words, human cells need to function in the presence of the right amount and type of microorganisms for there to be an optimal GI-immune response that keeps us healthy. Dysbiosis or imbalances of the gut microbiome can lead to an altered immune response to acute exposure, or even a response to a vaccine, and can lead to long-term chronic conditions. Antibiotic use, poor diet, stress, and other factors can cause dysbiosis. 

In addition to washing hands, practicing social distancing, and keeping healthy with nutrients and exercise, consider testing your gut microbiome with Thorne's Gut Health Test.

What is the Gut Health Test?

The gut microbiome is the environment in the GI tract that houses tens of trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, archaea, and viruses. And while the gut microbiome is influenced by demographic factors like age, genetics, and where a person lives, its composition is greatly impacted by what it comes in contact with because it’s open at both ends.

 Thorne's Gut Health Test is an at-home gut microbiome test that facilitates both social distancing and quarantine orders. You don’t need a clinician to order it for you. After the kit arrives at your door, you register it online and fill out a health profile. You collect a small stool sample and drop the test in any USPS mailbox.

You will be notified when your results are ready and receive an educational and easy to understand report that includes personalized recommendations for a specific diet to follow; precise dietary supplements that can include prebiotics, probiotics, and foundational nutrients to support a healthy microbiome; and lifestyle recommendations based on the microorganisms in your gut microbiome. 

What to look for in your Gut Health Test results

While the entire report provides useful information, if you’re concerned about immune health, then go straight to the following sections of your report to understand your gut’s capabilities. 

1. Gut Diversity Score

This gives you a percentile rank of your gut diversity – a score you want to be as high as possible. Gut diversity is a measure of the abundance of different microbes in your gut.

From birth, your GI tract becomes populated with microbes that teach your immune system how to function. The more bacteria and diversity, the better the response from your immune system. Higher diversity in the gut is associated with being healthy; whereas, a lower diversity score is most commonly seen in individuals with chronic health conditions.

2. Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs)

The Gut Health Test measures your gut’s capability to produce the vitally important SCFAs that are made from fermented-resistant starches (carbohydrates) in your gut. In the gut, SCFAs play a role in inhibiting the growth of pathogens, stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria, and maintaining the acidity of your gut, which all promote your gut-immune capacity. In addition, SCFAs provide energy and fuel to the cells that line your GI tract, so they help maintain GI structure and balance the microorganisms in it. 

Ideally, your SCFA levels should be high. Your Gut Health Test results will outline your ability to make three different SCFAs: butyrate, propionate, and valerate, plus lactate, and tell you why each is important for your immune and metabolic health.

3. Beneficial bacteria

Beneficial microorganisms are important for maintaining the health of your GI tract, defending it from foreign invaders like Salmonella, Listeria, E. Coli, and others, while also helping you maintain weight, skin health, normal digestive patterns, and other daily functions.

This section of your Gut Health Test results will provide a list of common microorganisms that you want to be high. Most are commercially available in supplemental form as probiotics, so if they are not high, then you will want your diet to include them. If you are currently taking a probiotic, then it’s in this section of your report that you learn if the probiotic you are taking is right for you, and if not, which one you should be taking.

4. Pathogens

Using our Onegevity Health Intelligence platform, Thorne does a complete screen of your stool sample for any detectable pathogens, which could include bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Pathogens can spread easily – you can contact them by touch, through the air, in food, in drinking water, or from insects like mosquitoes or flies – depending on the type of microbe. Once a pathogen is inside, you might or might not show symptoms, but they are still influencing your immune response. Our metagenomic technology is precise and can identify the DNA of pathogens that might be present.

5. Full Microbial Community Breakdown

Your Gut Health Test results provide a full download of every microorganism found in your stool sample in case you want to show your health-care professional. This data file lists the domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species, and strain of every organism and a percentile rank of your levels compared to other healthy adults.

It’s not too late to start optimizing your immune health for the coming weeks and months as we remain uncertain what social and travel restrictions are still to come. The best things we can do include following the CDC guidelines, maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, getting a good night’s sleep, and dietary supplementation as necessary.

Consider Thorne's Gut Health Test to receive personalized recommendations for how to maintain a healthy immune system through optimal gut health. 

An important note: No dietary supplement can diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, including COVID-19. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to understand that no dietary supplement, no diet, and no lifestyle modifications – other than the recommended social distancing and hygiene practices – can prevent you from being infected with the COVID-19 virus. No current research supports the use of any dietary supplement to protect you from being infected with the COVID-19 virus.