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New Microbiome Health Index

ljimbo423

Senior Member
Messages
4,705
Location
United States, New Hampshire
I think it might be a tool that can be useful, but which could also easily be dangerous, if people expect more from it than it reliably can provide.

Can you give an example of what you mean here?

It sounds like it still needs to be further developed but I'm happy to see this kind of work being done.

"Our proposed quantitative stool metric for indexing microbiome health is a conceptual and technical innovation, and has the potential to inform treatments for maintaining or restoring health through gut microbiome modulation," adds Sung.

"Our index provides a destination point of what you want your microbiome to resemble, especially after a massive perturbation, such as food poisoning or antibiotics.”

If they can get this to work in larger groups of people, accurately, it could be very helpful. Especially to people, as they say, that have had many courses of antibiotics or food poisoning, etc.

At least for some people with relative minor dysbiosis, where probiotics and a short course of antibiotic herbs could turn things around fast.

One of the biggest problems I think is, that once the dysbiosis gets to a certain point, it's often very, very difficult to re-balance. The question then becomes "how do those of us with this kind of dysbiosis treat it effectively, so that it don't take years to re-balance it?"

As far as I know science is still in the dark so to speak with the answer to this question.
 

Wishful

Senior Member
Messages
5,852
Location
Alberta
Can you give an example of what you mean here?

These potential tests are going to have significant limits. People differ so much that I can't imagine there being 'one perfect balance of 50 strains of bacteria'. An exceptionally healthy person might have a microbiome balance that reads 'unhealthy' if based on on the statistical mean. People will assume that the interpretation of the test results will be absolute proof of having a disease or being disease-free. I can easily imagine lawsuits: "The test results said I was healthy, so I ignored the chest pains and the rotting flesh. I want $10 B in damages!" :rolleyes:

I also expect a lot of abuse from 'health experts', selling expensive tests and individualized treatment plans that don't make a difference. A certain strain of bacteria might have a 'healthy' range of 200 units to 20000 units, but the scammers would convince people that there was an optimum point with a very narrow range, requiring multiple (profitable) visits to optimize their microbiome. Blind the suckers with numbers and dramatic but meaningless graphs.

As a tool for catching some signs of some diseases early, it has potential. Likewise a potentially useful tool for rebalancing badly unbalanced microbiomes.
 

PatJ

Forum Support Assistant
Messages
5,288
Location
Canada
As a tool for catching some signs of some diseases early, it has potential. Likewise a potentially useful tool for rebalancing badly unbalanced microbiomes.

Maybe I'm misinterpreting the article but Thryve already does something like this. They have a gut wellness score and gut diversity score:
Gut Wellness Score
The healthy average wellness score is determined by the balance of probiotics, beneficial, commensal and pathogenic bacteria in your gut microbiome compared to those of the healthy population from the American Gut Project.

Gut Diversity Score
Your diversity score is also considered along with your wellness score. Diversity is determined by the richness (variety of bacterial species) and evenness (amount of an individual species) of your gut microbiome.

They provide info on 'bad bacteria' being too high, or 'good bacteria' being too low. High or low seem to be based on average ranges and study results.

Then they have a likelihood analysis of possible symptoms based on bacteria being low or high; with the test results vs averages. Here's an example of two values I summarized from my test results:
* Faecalibacterium - Low (me: 38.9; avg. 40-60%)
- More likely to feel fatigued and tired
- More likely to have abdominal pain
- More likely to feel bloated
* Bifidobacterium - Low (me: 0.3%; avg. 9-40%)
- More likely to feel fatigued and tired
- More likely to have constipation
- More likely to feel beset by worries
- More likely to have trouble maintaining a healthy weight

The likelihood analysis is fairly accurate in my case, with more hits than misses.

Maybe someone wants to lobby them to test some PWME

Ken Lassessen's site Microbiomeprescription is a citizen science site that has been using microbiome test results to gather information about the connection between microbiomes and medical conditions, including from people with ME/CFS.
 

Wishful

Senior Member
Messages
5,852
Location
Alberta
Then they have a likelihood analysis of possible symptoms based on bacteria being low or high;

My first thought on seeing that list was that it resembles results from astrology or other fortune-telling techniques: make the predictions vague and common enough, and people will find a way to see what they want to see. For a scientific tool, I'd like to see it based on quantifiable symptoms rather than self-judgement.
 

Wishful

Senior Member
Messages
5,852
Location
Alberta
I think it's based on studies that attempt to correlate certain symptoms to high or low gut bacteria.

Yes, but my point was that without qualitative data and proper controls, it's probably fairly easy to make a similar list in response to anything: astrological stuff, letters in a person's name, weather in the area, or maybe even the microbe strains in someone else's gut. If you present random data in just the right way, people will see patterns in it that fits their own expectations. I think if you replaced the symptoms list with a list from astrology ("You will be unlucky in love today." "Beware of solutions that look too easy."), you'd still get plenty of people who would be convinced that the predictions are accurate.

I've just started reading a book: Standard Deviations, Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and other ways to Lie with Statistics. I wouldn't be surprised to find an example similar to the microbiome results vs people's seeing correlation just because they expect it. If you want to believe that the test is accurate, and it says you should expect 'bloated feeling', is it all that unlikely that your fallible memory will 'remember' feeling bloated the previous day or two, even though you didn't notice it at the time, or that you'll re-judge 'normally full' as 'bloated'?

If a properly-controlled study found that a 3:1 ratio between strain x and strain y has a 63% likelihood of the patient having a conversion of dietary iron to the usable form 34% lower than average, that would be useful. Vague predictions that can't be qualitatively verified aren't very useful.
 
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