The BioArte, a one-of-a-kind microbial diagnostics laboratory based at the Life Sciences Park in San Gwann, has developed a gut microbiota test kit to enable individuals to embark on the journey to understand their body on a microbial level.
The company, which focuses on research and test solutions for professionals and the public, aims to assist its clients to discover and understand the microscopic world within them.
Terminology like ‘microbiota’ and ‘microbiome’ are becoming more popular among the public and the scientific community. However, the distinction between the two is not always clear; much less is the awareness of how microbiotas affect individual health.
The phrase ‘you are what you eat’ couldn’t be more appropriate from the viewpoint of gut microbiota. Evidence supports the connection between gut microbiota and an individual’s health and even nutritional choices.
Human body set-up
It is important to understand that there is more to the human body than cells, organs, tissues, vessels, neurons and so on. The human body is an environment that is populated by micro-organisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and archaea. It is said that, if all micro-organisms were to be weighed, they can make up approximately 1.5 kg of the typical body weight.
On a genetic level, the human body is primarily composed of genetic material from these micro-organisms, meaning that there is more genetic material from the microbes than us humans. Microbiota refers to the collection of all the micro-organisms that are populating a given environment, and the microbiome is the collection of all the genomes of these micro-organisms.
There are many microbiotas within the human body: gut, skin, oral, vaginal, nasal and placental – to mention some well-studied microbiotas – and each has its own environment and a community that they inhabit. The largest microbiota is the gut microbiota, and many go so far as to consider it an organ in its own right, due to the vital role it plays on the other microbiotas and the entire body.
New scientific tools
Technological advancements in the field of health sciences have provided tools to discover a completely different aspect of the human being, the microbial self. The study of human microbiotas has revealed that categorising micro-organisms as good or bad is a very simplistic approach and that understanding the relationships between the microbial community holds clues to a healthy, balanced body.
“A complex community of micro-organisms lives in our gut, which participates in the normal functioning of our bodies. How they do this has been the subject of intense research, and it’s now clear that our micro-organisms play an integral part in our health and well-being,” Márton Szoboszlay, Senior Research Microbiologist at The BioArte, said.
“The microbial community in our gut responds to our lifestyle, diet, medication and treatments, and many other factors. At the same time, our health is affected by the state of our gut microbiota, which can contribute to a variety of health conditions.
“Gut microbiota analysis can uncover whether an imbalance (dysbiosis) in the gut microbial community is behind a health issue and identify the probiotic treatment or change of diet or lifestyle necessary to correct it. Furthermore, periodically checking the gut microbiota allows for the fine-tuning of the treatment to ensure a long-lasting effect.”
Our biology is unique and symptoms of an imbalance in the gut microbiota can vary from one person to another. However, there are common signs that are shared by many.
Some of these symptoms include stomach disturbances, unintentional weight changes, sleep disturbances or constant fatigue, skin irritation, (e.g., hypersensitive skin, urticaria, eczema, atopic dermatitis, acne, rosacea, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and fungal infections), sudden cravings (e.g., towards high-sugar foods), food intolerances and autoimmune conditions. Our choice of food and habits can be viewed as not our own cravings, but the nutrition that is craved by our microbial self (micro-organisms).
The BioArte’s gut microbiota test kit can be bought online. Further information is available on (https://thebioarte.com/service/microbiota-gut-test).