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The stool test uses only one stool sample. How is it representative of my intestinal flora over time? 

Although your microbiome fluctuates, you have a 'core' that remains relatively stable over a much longer period than the few days that you would take different stool samples from.

We know through research that we have a ‘core’ microbiome that remains stable over an extended period of time.

Think of a pie chart as your core microbiome, which doesn't change that much. Then a slightly bigger circle outside this one, that represents the part of your microbiome which oscillates on a regular basis, depending on your lifestyle. So with that in mind, there will be some variability over time.

We also know that the microbiome can change within 48 hours. However, the studies that found this used extreme diet changes: for example, going from a vegan diet to an almost carnivore diet.

These are changes that we don’t go through on a day-to-day basis, so the findings aren’t relevant for most people. One meal isn’t going to influence the microbiome from the perspective of what we're testing.

Our Gut Health Tests look at ‘trends’ in your results

Take your butyrate-producing bacteria, for example. The short-chain fatty acids they produce are very important for the integrity of your gut lining and for preventing leaky gut, which is important in modulating our immune system.

Butyrate has been found in the brain, in animal biopsies or autopsies, and even in hands. Therefore, we think it has a role to play in neurological health.

So if you have neurological symptoms, we need to be paying a little bit more attention to your butyrate producing bacteria, especially if they are out of range. Looking at these trends is more important than examining whether or not one bacteria is in or out of range.

The importance of diversity in your gut bacteria

As far as we know, there aren’t any studies that look at variability within the same stool. The form of the stool, however, does impact your diversity reading. That's because looser stool contains more water and therefore, lower numbers of bacteria.

Time and time again, gut bacterial diversity has been shown to be a massive indicator of not only gut health, but the health of your entire body, and even your mind.

That's why all our Gut Health Tests measure the types and levels of microbes in your gut: it gives us a picture of the diversity of your microbiome.

We know the diversity of your core gut bacteria is partly dependent on things like your diet, activity and stress levels, but that diversity takes shape over years, not weeks, and certainly not days.

So in short, taking multiple stool samples over the course of a few days is unnecessary and creates extra hassle that you could do without.