If you really want to know what’s going on in your gut there really is only one way to find out… Sadie Reid trials the Atlas Biomed at-home microbiome test kit and it’s safe to say she’s a convert.

Taking the test
As the founder of Hip & Healthy, wellness is my business and although I am certainly no nutritionist I know enough about gut health and the importance of it to have paid attention to what I am putting in my body as well as knowing not to ignore what is coming out of my body too. I think it would be fair to say that I enjoy living in a healthy way, but I have often wondered – is all this kale crunching, kombucha slurping and popping of vitamin pills actually doing anything? I mean, how do we really know. As, although, I eat well and exercise enough I too still suffer from bouts of IBS, poor immunity (as I write this I am suffering with a rotten cold) and low energy periods.

Enter Atlas Biomed, the brand that makes it their business to get to know your gut. A UK-based, personalised health company, Atlas Biomed’s mission is to drive the movement towards preventive healthcare with evidence-based technology and empower people to make positive lifestyle changes to allow them to access their best selves. No sooner had I requested to start off with their at-home microbiome test kit, than it was at my door in a neat little box. 

So, how exactly does the test work? Right – this is where I need to lift the taboo and talk about poo. The kit comes with incredibly clear instructions, where you need to take a tiny stool sample (using the equally tiny spatula provided) and put it into a test tube, which is filled with chemicals that will basically protect it in transit. This is in no way messy due to the tiny amount you need. Once all packaged up correctly you literally pop it in the post box and it makes its way to the lab! Atlas Biomed certainly get top scores for ease here.

So what goes on in the lab?
This is where some very clever scientists who have some very clever processes work away to detect exactly how healthy my gut is. In scientific terms, the test uses advanced 16S rRNA genetic sequencing technology, the gold standard in this field. There’s a symbiotic ecosystem of bacteria in your gut called microbiome, which is essential for maintaining your health. When it’s balanced, it prevents inflammation, protects from disease, produces vitamins and essential short-chain fatty acids, and it can even deter pathogens from making you sick. It is this that is being analysed in order for Atlas Biomed to be able to suggest nutritional and lifestyle changes that really will optimise my wellbeing.

What is revealed in the results…
Atlas Biomed break down the ways in which a healthy gut is measured into the following categories:

  • Protection status from five chronic diseases including type II diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
  • Microbiome diversity for health – this is especially important for being able to reduce inflammation and heal ourselves.
  • Beneficial and probiotic bacteria levels – this is where you really start to see if what you are eating has been helping or hindering your gut.
  • Vitamin and butyrate synthesis – rather than this rating your own vitamin levels this actually looks at the vitamin levels of the gut bacteria and thereby making them more effective

For me, what seemed to show up was that although I actually had a really good amount of gut bacteria in my gut the diversity of it was lacking. I didn’t seem prone to any of the five diseases they test for but I could have done a bit better in my dietary fibre intake.

So, then what…
With Atlas Biomed you get totally tailored recommendations to enhance your health based on reliable, scientific studies vetted and approved by their amazing research teams. Plus, the nutritional information they offer is second to none given that their tests are widely used in multiple clinical trials where they investigate how different foods may affect microbiome diversity and health conditions.

Not only does a list of suggested foods appear on your dashboard when you log into the site to get your results just weeks later, but you also have a follow-up phone call with a nutritionist who makes some further lifestyle and food suggestions. 

The nutritionist told me that in order to improve my gut microbiome diversity I need to try and eat a more varied diet – ie. do not go home and eat the same thing every night and have the same lunch from the same shop each day… She also suggested that since I don’t eat dairy, I try to add a bit more fermented foods into my diet in the form of kombucha, coconut kefir, sauerkraut and miso. I asked her if I should introduce a few supplements into my daily routine but she said that Atlas Biomed have a ‘food first’ policy and that I should try to correct the gut bacteria in my diet with these simple food changes and then, perhaps, take the test again a few months later to see if my gut health reflects the changes I made, which I certainly will as I have never felt so empowered to make positive health choices as I do now knowing what is actually going on in my gut. Knowledge really is power.

We’d like to give our readers the opportunity to give one of their amazing test kits a try, so we’ve teamed up together to offer you an exclusive discount to get 15% off your Atlas Microbiome test (£126.65 instead of £149)! Simply head to Atlasbiomed.com/uk and the code “HIPHEALTHY15” will be automatically applied at the checkout.

words by Sadie Reid