The $99 gut microbiome

In Featured Posts by Prof10 Comments

We’ve been talking in class about the bacteria that live in your intestinal tract – how they get there, their role in various diseases, and how to shift the microbial population to promote better health.  Of course, before trying to change your gut bacteria, it might help to know what’s actually there.  Doing so is not as difficult as you might think.  In fact, if you have $99, you can have your gut analyzed and get a profile of your very own microbiota.

So far, more than 6,000 people have joined the “American Gut Project”.  It’s very easy to participate – they send you a sample kit, you collect the sample, mail it back, and wait for the results.  One has to be careful, however, about interpreting the data.  For example, how would you react if you learned you were harboring bacteria associated with particular diseases?  Bioethicists are also concerned about privacy issues.  Nonetheless, collecting data from thousands of people is great for scientists who are studying the gut.


ProfThe $99 gut microbiome


  1. Tanner

    I have heard of the American Gut Project, I had a close friend actually participate something like this. I am not too familiar with the process but I found it extremely interesting that it was as easy as receiving a kit in the mail and then mailing it back. There are a ton of different things like this and I think that it is a great way for people to learn about their bodies without actually having to leave their houses. If I had $99 to spare, I would definitely participate but because I am a college student, I think I will stick to buying ramen and mac n cheese.

  2. Leo

    That is very cool. If someone had a few hundred dollars to spend, they could have a fun experiment on their hands. If I had extra money to blow and nothing better to do, here’s what I would do. I would send in a sample like normal. Then, for a week, I’d consume lots of foods that claim that they have some sort of influence on gut health, making my diet consists largely of yogurt and other things. After that week, I’d send in another sample. This would be a cool way to see if these products actually make that much of a difference in our gut flora. Sadly, I’m a cheap college student and I don’t care much for yogurt, so the chances of me finding out this way are pretty low.

  3. Kelsey

    I have never known anyone that has done this before, and to be honest, I didn’t even know something like this existed. I don’t think that I am quite curious enough to pay $99 to see what bacteria lives in my intestinal tract. However, it would be interesting to find out how my results compare to other people’s. Maybe if I knew more about bacteria and how they affect the human body and if I were not a broke college student, I would be more likely to try this test.

  4. Amber

    Before reading this post, I even don’t know there is American Gut Project existed. I mean I do know there are tons of bacteria inside my gut, however, I would not pay $99 to find out what exactly bacteria I have in my GI track. If I am suffering gut problem, I would rather to get a “simple” check in a hospital.

  5. Yijun

    I think American Gut Project is more like an event for collect gut’s data from people. For encourage people to do that, bioethicists would send a result of the guts and the microbiota to them. And more data, more information about the gut microbiome could be get from this project. In my opinion , the American Gut Project is a project for helping bioethicists and doctor learn more about the human body and help people to cure the gut disease. So that would be nice, if more people join the project.

  6. Andi

    I have never heard of the American Gut Project before we talked about it in class. It is crazy that it only takes $99 dollars to figure it out and that you can also do it at home. You would think that since they are figuring out what bacteria you have in your gut. This would be a really interesting thing to participate in to kind see if the way we eat in college could maybe affect how we feel in our everyday life and if it could help up be more active.

  7. Ashley

    I question if the $99 gut microbiome is a good idea. For scientist who understand what the results mean, I think it is a fine idea. Disgusting but fine. My question is if it is a good idea for the general public.
    All it takes to be a medical professional is Google and spending the night at a Holiday Inn. Ok, this might not be the truth but there are people who think like this. How many people Google a medical question and all the sudden they have cancer, or lyme disease, or some really rare stomach disease that is only found in Africa. The answer: all the time!
    What concerns me about this microbiome is that, even though its use is not for medical diagnostics, people will use it that way—- because they stayed at a Holiday Inn last night. The gut micriobiome probably isn’t even completely accurate. I am guessing that they use partial genome sequencing instead of whole genome sequencing.
    In conclusion, I will not be using this service. I think these gut microbiomes are fine for scientists who understand the results. Releasing them to the public might not be as good of an idea. I fear they will often be misinterpreted.

  8. Jenna

    Sequencing technology is evolving rapidly. Today we can have a better understanding of our genome than ever before. Similar to a gut microbiome, we are able to get our DNA sequenced as well. Services ranges in price from $99 (from to $1100 (from deCODE genetics based in Iceland). Privacy issues also arise from this service as well as ethical dilemmas. One controversy is allowing a person to screen for a late-onset disease such as Huntington’s disease. It is an inherited disease that causes the loss of brain and muscle function. Would a person want to screen for a disease they can’t cure? Or live a life of bliss? However, DNA screening is also beneficial. Newborns can get screened in order to prevent disease later on. Regardless, sequencing is an amazing emerging technology.

  9. Nevada

    This is a great discovery in the world of science, a little disturbing, but definitely interesting. I do agree that such a new science with so much data is overwhelming to wrap my head around. Privacy issues and then false claims are red flags that I could see developing with emerging companies that are simply trying to make money. How reliable would you claim this test is if it claims you have life-threatening bacteria? Also, this could be a great way to assess the overall healthiness of individuals that could help turn around the growing obesity rate. I think that the future of this process is very promising and it can help open up doors to knowing more about our bodies in the future.

  10. Khalifa

    This is a very interesting project and I would like to try if I had money to waste. It would interesting to see the bacteria in me as I’ve always been curious. I would like to compare what would happen if I ate more yogurt and such things and see what would happen.

Leave a Comment