Frequently asked questions
After you’ve received access to your detailed online report, you have the opportunity to book a coaching session with a Microbiome Coach – all qualified health professionals. The complimentary consultation is done via phone and provides you with 15 minutes to review your report. You are able to ask questions you may have about your report and discuss appropriate next steps for you to take. Your coach will assist in the interpretation of the results and will highlight beneficial dietary changes that may improve your microbial diversity and the functional potential of your bacteria.
Microba’s Microbiome Coaches are all qualified health professionals – either Accredited Practising Dietitians or Nutritionists. They are specialists in the gut microbiome and digestion issues such as IBS. Currently our lead Microbiome Coach is Accredited Practising Dietitian Bianca Maree Harrington. She is supported by Christine Stewart, a Nutritionist and Registered Nurse, and Leanne Mitchell, Accredited Practising Dietitian.
The coach calls are currently capped at 15 minutes. If more than 15 minutes is required, your coach may suggest you connect with a Microba Informed Practitioner to receive more detailed assistance for your own personal health journey.
If you are working with one of our Microba Informed Practitioners, it is encouraged that you discuss any additional questions with your practitioner. If you are not working with a practitioner, and unsure of where to direct your question, please call 1300 974 621 and we can direct you to the most appropriate health professional to assist with your inquiry.
Do you offer dietary suggestions?
Microba’s Insight™ test and report will not compare specific diet plans. The Insight™ report will provide suggestions about the best foods to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria, but will not focus on a specific diet plan. You can however, select allergens such as wheat, gluten, fructose and peanuts to be removed from your list of suggested foods. There is currently no longitudinal study investigating the effects of popular diet plans on the gut microbiome.
The Microba Insight™ report provides personalised dietary suggestions to promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, but does not prescribe a complete diet plan.
The personalised dietary suggestions we provide will be in the form of whole foods (e.g. red kidney beans, chickpeas, slightly green bananas, oats, etc.). The specific foods suggested will be based upon the levels of beneficial bacteria in your microbiome profile and the current research that describes which specific foods and food components encourage the growth of the beneficial bacteria that are at low levels. Our suggestions only take into account your gut microbiome and do not take into account any medical conditions, food intolerances / allergies or nutritional requirements. We do not diagnose food intolerances or allergies.
Should you wish to use the Microba Insight™ results to inform a personalised diet plan we can provide a list of Microba Informed Practitioners, including Accredited Practising Dietitians and Naturopaths, who have undertaken further training in utilising the Microba Insight™ report in their clinical practice. If you have a medical condition or take regular medication, it is important to speak to your medical practitioner before making significant changes to your diet.
Working with a practitioner
Yes you can work with a Microba Informed health care practitioner. The test can only be ordered online by the individual who is taking it. If you are working with a Microba Informed health care practitioner, they can provide you with a referral code to add during purchase or afterwards within the “My Kits” section of your online account so that your report is sent to them automatically. Your report can also be downloaded and printed if you wish to take a copy to any other health practitioner.
If you want to know more about how your patients’ gut microbiomes may be affecting their health, you can grow your understanding with the Microba Insight™ Program – an online complimentary course for accredited Australian Health Care Practitioners (HCPs). This program enables HCPs to learn more about the gut microbiome, how it impacts health, current research surrounding the gut microbiome its relationship to health and disease and how the Microba Insight™ report provides comprehensive gut microbiome information to help guide your clinical decisions.
Upon completion of the course, you will receive a unique referral code to refer patients for Microba Insight™ tests, regular research updates and access to the Microba clinical support team.
The Microba Insight™ test is currently not covered by any medical rebates. This is an area Microba are actively investigating.
How it works
If you are interested in learning what your “normal” gut microbiome looks like, it is best to collect a sample at a time when you have maintained your regular daily habits and diet for at least two weeks prior to sampling. This is because changes to your normal habits such as overseas travel, short-term use of supplements, changes to exercise habits and eating new foods can impact your gut microbiome. It is also important to try and collect a sample from a bowel movement that is typical for you.
Microba suggests you take your sample at a time when it will be the most typical for you. Ultimately, it is your choice on when you would like to collect a sample for gut microbiome analysis. Based on the existing literature, we suggest waiting at least one month after short-term antibiotic use before testing.
Current research shows that the effects of taking broad-spectrum antibiotics for between 5-10 days can be seen in a person’s gut microbiome for a year or even longer. However, the gut microbiome does start to recover soon after antibiotics are stopped. Studies have observed that after 1-2 months the majority of gut microbiota returned to pre-treatment levels (with the exception of some species that took much longer to recover). Here is a link to a paper discussing this:
Unfortunately, there is little research available about the length of time it takes the gut microbiome to recover after longer term use of antibiotics (greater than 10 days).
There is no need to stop taking supplements or probiotics before taking the test, especially if these are part of your normal habit, as this will reflect your “normal” microbiome.
In general, we suggest maintaining your normal daily habits for two weeks prior to sampling to see what your “normal” microbiome looks like. Also try to collect a sample from a bowel movement that is typical for you.
Always consult with your physician before making any changes to prescribed probiotics or supplements. We do not recommend you discontinue any medications.
If you are interested in seeing your gut microbiome without the effect of the colon cleanse, wait for at least two weeks prior to sampling. Research has shown that colon cleanses, including those used prior to a colonoscopy will reduce the population of bacteria in the colon, and some species will be reduced more than others. A recent study showed that it takes up to 14 days for the gut microbiome to recover after a colon cleanse.
To avoid contamination of your sample, it is suggested that you avoid completing your sample during your menstruation period.
If you think you may have touched your swab during sampling, or have any other concerns, then please do not put the sample in the post until you have contacted our customer service on 1300 974 621 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to determine whether the sample is suitable or a replacement kit is necessary.
Be aware that certain medications can alter your gut microbiome. This does not mean that you cannot complete the microbiome test. Antibiotics, immunotherapy, immunosuppressants, chemotherapy, cholesterol lowering drugs, acid reflux/indigestion treatments, and the diabetes medication ‘metformin’, among others can impact your microbiome. Always consult with your physician before making any changes to your medication.
Yes, anyone can take a Microba Insight™ test. Our method of testing your gut bacteria is non-invasive and the initial test can be completed in the privacy of your own home. If you have a medical condition, please consult with a medical professional before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.
Yes, microbiome test kits are available for children between the ages of two and 18 years if ordered through a parent or guardian. Our method of testing is non-invasive and can be completed in the privacy of your own home. Once an account is created, a consent form will need to be signed by a parent or guardian. We do not provide testing for children under the age of two at this time, but we will be developing a special test for infants in the future.
Microba provides you with the most comprehensive microbiome test and a detailed, personalised report. To utilise our expert researchers and collate this high-level of information, it takes between 4-6 weeks to process and analyse a sample once we receive it in our lab. During this time, we will keep you up to date by sending emails along the way, including when we receive your sample in our lab and when your results are ready to view online. Additionally, once created, you can log into your account at any time in the Microba Discovery Portal to view the progress of your sample.
Getting my kit
Once you have requested your kit, your microbiome test kit will be dispatched as soon as possible. Microba dispatch twice a week, with delivery taking approximately 2-4 business days. You can check your kit status (when you hover over the green ticks displayed underneath the kit in “My Kits”) which will show as “Preparing your order” during this time. You will receive an email once your kit has been sent. The kit status will also update in the Microba Discovery Portal to say “Your kit has been dispatched”.
Kits will be shipped by Express Post via Australia Post from our headquarters in Brisbane.
Unfortunately, due to Australian biosecurity requirements we cannot accept samples posted to our laboratory in Australia from overseas. We currently only offer our service within Australia, however we do have plans to expand overseas in the coming years.
You can register your interest for updates when Microba will be available in your country here: https://www.microba.com/overseas/
The testing kit is identified by the square barcode so does not need a name of birth date filled in. This is optional and not required for sending your test back.
What’s in a Microba Insight™ Report?
Using our unique metagenomics sequencing methods and the expert analysis of our scientists, a personalised report of your unique gut microbiome is generated to show you:
The members of your microbial community:
- A comprehensive list of the species in your gut, and the relative abundance of each microorganism
- Easy-to-understand descriptions of your gut microbes
- The overall diversity of your microbiome
What your microbial community is capable of:
- The potential for your gut microbiome to digest fibre, protein, and fat
- The potential of your gut microbiome to produce essential vitamins and short chain fatty acids
- Personalised dietary suggestions to promote a healthy gut microbiome
How your microbial community compares to others:
- The way your report compares to different groups of people based on categories such as age and gender.
The Microba Insight™ results are available on our Microba Discovery Portal. Only you (the account holder) can access your personal results via a unique login to the Portal. The reports are easy-to-understand and interactive, featuring tools, graphs, and animations. The Portal allows you to discover and compare your gut microbiome at your own pace and learn as much as you like about current knowledge on the microorganisms inhabiting your gut. Additionally, you will have the option to download and print a copy of your results as a PDF report.
If you have been directed by your GP to take probiotics, you should always follow their advice. Specific strains of probiotics may be effective at alleviating specific symptoms, such as diarrhea, constipation and bloating among others. Recent reviews of probiotic supplementation in healthy adults indicates there is little evidence of an effect in healthy people. However, Microba’s test will pick up any bacterial species that are present at a relative abundance of 0.05% or greater. Often, probiotics taken as supplements will be at levels lower than this, so they may not be picked up even if you are actively taking probiotics.
Microba can provide you with dietary suggestions around the types of food that will encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut that have been associated with good gut health. The Insight™ Report does not compare specific diet plans or suggest specific diets. Should you wish to start a specific diet plan, speak with your health care practitioner.
The Microba Insight™ report allows you to learn about your unique gut microbiome in high-resolution. You can use the report to:
- Monitor how your gut microbiome changes with lifestyle adjustments. For example, if you need to take antibiotics, you can monitor how quickly your microbiome recovers. Or, if you want to improve your gut microbiome by making changes to your diet and/or exercise habits, you can monitor your microbiome to see if the changes have worked.
- Identify overgrowths of a particular species within your microbiome. Please consult with a medical practitioner if you have any concerns.
- Learn if the probiotics you have been taking are present in your sample.
- Learn which microorganisms are in your gut and what they might be doing.
- Learn which foods can be added to your diet to promote a healthy microbiome.
- It’s important to keep in mind that human microbiome analysis is an emerging field; new discoveries are made almost every week about how the different microorganisms in our body interact with us and with each other. As more information is gained, consensus about what different microbes are doing can change.
The Microba Insight™ report is intended to be used for informational purposes only. The results of your microbiome test are not intended to be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions. This test will provide you with a detailed overview of which microorganisms are resident in your gut and what they might be doing. This in turn may provide insight into your overall gut health.
Fungi and protists are a normal part of the human microbiome, but as always if you have concerns, please see your health care practitioner. The Microba Insight™ report will identify the gut microorganisms present, including fungal and protist species for which there is genomic information available. However, because we sequence all the microorganisms in your gut, instead of targeting specific species, fungal and protist species may not be detected if the proportion of them in your gut microbiome is very low.
Most other microbiome profiling companies use 16S rRNA gene sequencing. This method only sequences a small portion of a single gene to identify known bacterial groups and leaves out the rest of your microbiome. The results are often biased and not reproducible between different labs. Functional information, including what your various gut bacteria do, is limited to known bacteria, which misses a large portion of your overall microbiome.
Microba uses full metagenomics (also called shotgun metagenomics), the most reproducible, least biased and comprehensive DNA sequencing method to provide you with a high-resolution picture of your gut microbiome. Metagenomics is a powerful tool where all the genes from the microorganisms in your sample are sequenced, allowing you to see not just bacteria, but also fungi, protists, and archaea. This method can also identify microorganisms at the species or even strain level and reveals what your microbes are capable of.
The Microba Insight™ Report will show you the potential of your gut microbiome (the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your gut) to break down fibre and protein and to produce various substances linked to health. It will not explain how your digestive system is functioning or go into explanation about how your body works or anatomy. You may gain insights into what functions your gut microbiome is performing or under performing, but if you require more information about how your digestive system is functioning, see your health care practitioner.
Generally, we will only use or disclose personal information about you for the purposes for which it was collected (as set out above). We may disclose personal information about you to:
a) service providers and partners, who assist us in operating our business;
b) any industry body, tribunal and/or court in connection with any complaint made by you about us; and
c) any other organisation or person with your consent or as permitted or required by law.
We may also disclose to Australia Post certain personal information you provide us (such as your email address, phone number and/or residential address) in connection with us providing our services to you (this information may be used by Australia Post for the purposes of providing notification of tracking events and collecting any relevant feedback in relation to the delivery or tracking service).
We do not typically or routinely disclose personal information to overseas recipients, although this may change over time. Unless we have your consent, or an exception under the APPs applies, we will only disclose your personal information to overseas recipients where we have taken reasonable steps to ensure that the overseas recipient does not breach the APPs in relation to your personal information.