Fall Colors Sale – 5 For 2

The season has changed. See how this affects your bacteria!

By popular request from many of you, we’re bringing back our 5-site offer.

Thanks for asking, we’re happy to oblige!

With the change of season, it’s a good time to check in with all the bacteria living in your gut, mouth, nose, skin, and genitals. How are they doing?

Starting today, we’re offering our 5-site microbiome testing kits for just $178 instead of the usual $399.

Offer valid until Friday (or until 1,000 kits are scooped up.)

Use discount code HAPPYFALL when you checkout at ubiome.com.

We wish you and your bacteria a warm, cozy day.

Love,
Your friends at uBiome

Why variety is the spice of life – and the sign of a good gut

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A healthy gut is a diverse gut.

You need good eyesight to work in the uBiome laboratory. Our research focus tends to be on the microscopically tiny.

Of course, we’re all about the trillions of bacterial cells that are hitching a ride in, and on, your body right now.

But let’s just for one minute exchange our microscope for a “macroscope” and consider overall biological diversity.

Our planet plays host to somewhere between 10 and 14 million species, or types, of life.

If this sounds like a unforgivably slapdash and imprecise estimate, it is.

You see we know precious little about so many of the other life forms which share our world.

In fact over 86% of our co-living species haven’t even been described yet.

And if we’re going to make an impression on this task, well we’d better get a move on.

Something like 99% of all the species that have ever lived on earth are already extinct. And some estimates suggest that literally dozens more are becoming extinct every single day.

Now this is pretty disturbing news.

In general, biodiversity is a good thing – an essential component of nature.

The less diverse our world becomes in terms of its life-forms, the poorer it becomes as an environment capable of supporting those life-forms.

One of which is us.

Okay, so now let’s return to the micro from the macro.

What do we know about the diversity of the microbiome?

Is it, in general, a good thing to have a wide variety of bacteria in your gut? Very probably, but it’s not exactly easy to separate cause from effect.

Healthy people do indeed tend to have a wider diversity of microbes in their guts, but it’s not obvious whether one causes the other.

However, learning from “macro” biodiversity would seem to suggest the wisdom of covering your bases by welcoming in as many species of healthy bacteria as possible.

Modern life can play havoc with our guts.

If we look to the hunter-gatherer Yanomami people in the Venezuelan rainforest, some of whom have lived without contact with the rest of the world for thousands of years, we find that they have the most diverse populations of gut microbes ever seen.

They eat a high-fiber diet, and have also never been exposed to antibiotics.

I think we may also safely assume that they don’t make great use of anti-bacterial soaps and cleansers.

And here’s another thing.

Researchers at the University of Oklahoma in Norman have found a clever way of studying the microbiomes of our ancestors.

They’ve collected fecal samples direct from the intestines of mummified humans around North and South America, then subjected them to a similar kind of DNA analysis that we use at uBiome.

Interestingly, ancient feces between 1,400 and 3,000 years old had much more in common bacterially with children in rural Africa than with modern Americans.

It is estimated that a human gut can contain between 500 and 1,000 different bacterial species.

You might argue that this is a relatively small number compared to the species on earth, so perhaps “working on” your microbiome’s diversity may not be an entirely impossible task.

Some simple tips, then?

It can help to eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha.

Consuming fiber-rich foodstuff such as beans (a prebiotic) will give your new healthy bacteria something tasty to munch on.

Avoid meat from animals which have been dosed with antibiotics (often used as a growth agent).

And last but not least don’t overdo it with the antibacterial hand cleanser.

In short, treat your gut with the same kind of respect we should all be paying to the rainforest, and you won’t go too far wrong.

 


 

Further reading

Antibiotics are wonder drugs no more

Antibiotics may make you fat

Biodiversity

I had the bacteria in my gut analysed.

Is super-diverse Amazon microbiome something to strive for?

Microbiome Monday – How Do We Build Our Microbiomes

Our Modern Lifestyle May Be Destroying Microbiome Diversity

The Extinction Crisis

The Scientists Who Want to Fix America’s Guts

uBiome Launches First Microbiome App Using ResearchKit; Initial focus is on Relationship Between Gut Bacteria and Weight Loss

iPhone users can now explore their gut bacteria, and also contribute to research about the relationship between the microbiome and human body weight with the launch of a ground-breaking app launched by the microbiome-testing company uBiome, which uses the ResearchKit framework designed by Apple. The app itself is free, and the first 1,000 users will also qualify for free microbiome testing, usually priced at $89.

www.indiegogo.com/ubiome
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (PRWEB) OCTOBER 09, 2015

Leading microbial genomics startup uBiome today launched the first-ever microbiome app, in tandem with a study that aims to better understand the relationship between weight management and the microbiome. The study uses the ResearchKit framework, designed by Apple, to gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using an iPhone app.

The uBiome app is available as a free download from the App Store. The first 1,000 users to complete the app’s questionnaire and share a link to the app on social media will receive a free uBiome microbiome testing kit, usually priced at $89. After these free kits have been distributed, users of the app will qualify for a 50% discount.

uBiome is the first biotech company to launch a microbiome-focused app on the ResearchKit framework, following in the footsteps of prestigious clinical trailblazers such as Mt. Sinai, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Sage Bionetworks, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Stanford Medicine. From asthma, breast cancer and Parkinson’s disease to diabetes and heart health, existing ResearchKit apps are contributing to scientific understanding of serious health conditions around the world.

“Being able to see how research participants compare to each other is critical to a deeper understanding of human health and the role played by the microbiome,” says Jessica Richman, co-founder and CEO of uBiome. “Participants have already been incredibly eager to contribute to this exciting new branch of science, and we look forward to this opportunity for greater participation.”

uBiome anticipates rapid adoption of its ResearchKit app. Stanford Medicine, one of the first users of the platform, recruited as many research participants in 24 hours as it usually would in a year, with more than 11,000 people signing up within one day. Nearly 75 percent of mobile subscribers in the United States own smartphones and Health & Fitness is the fastest growing app category.

Dr. Zachary Apte, CTO and co-founder of uBiome, explains that processing microbiome data has only become possible because of the company’s powerful high-throughput DNA sequencing technology. “uBiome’s free iPhone app connects the phone in your pocket to our powerful technology in the lab, enabling users to directly contribute to enhancing human health through better understanding of the human microbiome.”

The human microbiome contains around ten times as many cells as the entire body, and an individual’s bacteria is responsible for between three and six pounds of their weight. To place this in context, an average human brain weighs three pounds. The bacteria, which live in and on the body, play critical roles in human health. Although some kinds of bacteria can be responsible for a host of problems such as autoimmune disorders, diabetes, heart conditions, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and skin conditions, the right types of “friendly bacteria” assist us with digestion and the synthesis of vitamins among other important biological activities.

To download the free uBiome ResearchKit iPhone app visit: https://itunes.apple.com/US/app/id998772157.

About uBiome

Technologists from UCSF, Stanford, and Cambridge launched uBiome in 2012 after a crowd-funding campaign raised over $350,000 from citizen scientists, roughly triple the initial goal. uBiome is now funded by Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, and other leading investors. The company’s mission is to use big data to understand the human microbiome by giving consumers the power to learn about their bodies, perform experiments, and see how current research studies apply to them.

Contact:

Orli Kadoch
orli(at)ubiome(dot)com
Ph: +1 415-691-7291

Why Flatulence Is Simply A Sign Your Bacteria Are Doing Their Job

air-160492_1280Farting. There, I said it.

Here at uBiome we often refer to the microbiome as the bacteria that live in and on your body, but according to a paper co-authored just last month by James Meadow, a former University of Oregon researcher, we really ought to add a third microbial environment to this – the space around the body.

You see, according to Meadow each of us is surrounded by a personal “cloud” of bacteria, at least some of which is generated in the form of flatulence.

And when you fart, your emissions contain a cocktail of different gases accompanied by a liberal side-order of gut bacteria.

Whatʼs more, a good deal of the flatus itself (the scientific word for a fart) is the result of fermentation in your gut, and the work of its bacteria.

The average individual passes wind between 8 and 20 times a day, generating a volume of something like half a liter every 24 hours.

Out of (admittedly rather random) interest it would therefore take about three years for the average person to inflate a camping air mattress with their gastrointestinal gas.

No wonder they sell those little hand pumps.

Although we tend to think of farts as smelly, in fact 99% of their volume is non-odorous, made up of oxygen and nitrogen we swallow, plus carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane produced by our gut bacteria.

By the way, methane has no odor and, whatʼs more, not everyoneʼs flatus contains it. As a matter of fact itʼs only found in around half the population, so not everybody can pull off the old dorm “fart-lighting” trick.

Even if they wanted to.

The pungent smell of flatus comes from volatile sulfur compounds, including hydrogen sulfide, which make up just 1% of its volume.

Now while you and I probably do our best to avoid other peopleʼs farts, in China there are professional flatus smellers who can allegedly diagnose illness and tell you where it is in the body, simply by taking a sniff.

Actually these experts are not the only ones to actively seek out peopleʼs gas.

According to a recent study at the University of Exeter in the UK, smelling farts could even be good for you.

Apparently a sniff or two of hydrogen sulfide can help to preserve your mitochondria (part of the cell structure of important microorganisms in your body).

Todayʼs brief wander through the world of farts would be incomplete without brief acknowledgement of a phenomenon called High Altitude Flatus Expulsion.

What?

Quite simply, it describes many peopleʼs increased need to pass wind on flights – not because of the airline food – but because of the reduced air pressure outside our bodies.

Thank goodness for efficient aeronautic ventilation, I say.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to at least tip my hat to a 19th-century entertainer at the Moulin Rouge in Paris who used the stage-name La Pétomane, which loosely translates to “The Fartomaniac”.

Thanks to an extraordinary ability to inhale through his back passage (yup, really) Joseph Pujol (his real name) could produce the sound of cannon fire and thunderstorms from his rear end.

Apparently he also played “O Sole Mio” on an ocarina powered by a rubber tube inserted where the sun donʼt shine, and could blow out a candle from several yards away.

Of course flatulence is the, um, butt of many a good joke.

But the simple truth is that itʼs generally a good indicator of a healthy gut. When your gut bacteria are doing their work, the inevitable side-effect is gastrointestinal gas.

So put that in your ocarina and play it.

Alexandra 🙂

Alexandra Carmichael
Director of Product, Community, and Growth
uBiome

Further reading

15 Explosive Facts About Farts

Flatulence

Flatulence expert defines ʻnormalʼ output rate

Help Wanted: Professional Fart-Smeller

Humans differ in their personal microbial cloud

Le Pétomane

Study: Smelling farts may be good for your health

Your Body Is Surrounded by Clouds of Skin and Fart Bacteria

uBiome Co-Founder Jessica Richman Scoops Top Prize At IVY Awards, uBiome Is Finalist In MedTech Innovator of 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 9.15.18 AMuBiome, the San Francisco-based company behind a fast-growing, self-sampling microbiome testing service, has been celebrated in two major national competitions, both focusing on technology and innovation. uBiomeʼs CEO and co-founder, Jessica Richman, was announced overall winner of the IVY Innovator Awards presented by Cadillac, in San Francisco on September 30th. And Richmanʼs company is one of a shortlist of four finalists for the MedTech Innovator 2015 competition which will be awarded on the basis of a panel of judgesʼ decision and audience votes at AdvaMed 2015 on Wednesday October 7th in San Diego.

The microbiome is the rich diversity and prodigious volume of bacteria that live in and on the human body. We have ten times as many microbial cells living in this balanced ecosystem than we do in the entire human body, and its weight amounts to between three and five pounds, enough to fill a soup can – an equivalent weight to the human brain. Bacteria in the gut play a supporting role in digestion and the synthesis of vitamins, however pathogenic bacteria are associated with a range of conditions such as autoimmune disorders, diabetes, heart conditions, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and skin conditions. There may even be bacterial connections with anxiety and depression.

uBiome uses DNA sequencing to identify the types and amounts of bacteria in an individualʼs sample, which may be collected from one of five sites – gut, mouth, nose, skin, or genitals. Users can freely explore their results online, comparing their own microbial makeup with others. The species of bacteria in an individualʼs microbiome have only recently become identifiable thanks to a $115 million project by the NIH Human Microbiome Project. uBiome builds on this pioneering work, enabling the cost of microbiome sequencing to be cut from millions of dollars ten years ago to just $89 today, making it accessible to all.

The IVY Innovator Awards, in their second year, recognize outstanding achievement in the fields of technology, film, and design. Jessica Richman has picked up the top prize in the technology section. To do so she needed to convince the judging panel of her suitability in five ways: potential to impact the entrantʼs field; expansiveness of personal vision; uniqueness of innovative endeavors; approach to creativity and innovation; and dedication to building lifelong collaborative bonds.

IVY is a collaborative community of 10,000 thought-leaders and innovators in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Boston and Chicago dedicated to creating a better world through its belief that everyone has limitless potential. Its mission is to unlock potential through creative collaboration, camaraderie and inspiration.

MedTech Innovator of 2015 is a competition and virtual accelerator designed to identify and mentor outstanding, innovative early-stage medical technology companies. Over the past two years, MedTech Innovator has produced five successful medtech innovation competitions and two innovation scholarships, with submissions from more than 700 early-stage medtech companies worldwide.

AdvaMed Accel and AdvaMed 2015 have partnered with MedTech Innovator to provide best-in-class start-ups access to a virtual accelerator and to support AdvaMed members developing innovative and transformational medical technologies. AdvaMed represents 80% of medtech firms in the U.S., producing nearly 90% of the health care technology purchased in the U.S. each year.

Jessica Richman and her co-founder Dr. Zachary Apte founded uBiome in November 2012 with a crowdfunding campaign which raised over $350,000. Following an angel round, their startup was accepted into Y Combinator in Summer 2014. Almost immediately they raised a Series A from Andreesen Horowitz. Prior to founding uBiome, Richman worked for Google, McKinsey, Lehman Brothers, the Grameen Bank, and top-tier Silicon Valley venture firms. She attended Stanford University, studying economics and computer science, and Oxford University, where she studied on a fellowship after college graduation.

Jessica Richman says: “Itʼs an honor to win the IVY Innovator Award, and to also know that uBiome is a finalist alongside three other worthy businesses in MedTech Innovator is the icing on the cake. Actually the credit should really go to a couple of groups of remarkable people. One is our incredible uBiome team, without whom we wouldnʼt exist. Theyʼre talented, devoted, and just as eager as Zac and I are to change the world through microbiome testing. The other is our fabulous community of citizen scientists who send us their samples, enabling us to work together to help them explore their microbiomes. Many of them helped get the company off the ground in the first place by supporting our enormously successful crowd-funded launch.”

Zachary Apte adds: “Iʼd add a third group of important people to Jessicaʼs list, and theyʼre our fabulous investors, whoʼve supported the building of our world-class laboratories where we already do some amazing gene sequencing work, and are soon to introduce clinical testing. The people whoʼve invested are some of the brightest folks Iʼve ever met. They totally get what we do, and get that it has vast game-changing potential in the provision of health services.”

For more information on the IVY Innovator Awards, click here: https://www.ivy.com/awards

And for background on MedTech Innovator, see here: http://medtechinnovator.com/2015

 

Why You Could Be Living A Life That’s Too Clean

Could you be healthier by being a little less hygienic?

If youʼd been a patient of acclaimed 18th century English physician Dr. John Mudge and had visited him with a cough, the chances are that youʼd have found yourself sucking air into your mouth via one of his ingenious “inhalers”.

Now although I say youʼd be sucking in air, Dr. Mudge was in fact a big fan of poppyseed-derived pharmaceuticals.

And his favored prescription for a cough was actually opium vapor.

Today of course, youʼre more likely to use an inhaler if you suffer from asthma.

Itʼs a rapidly widening condition. In 1980, less than 1 in 30 U.S. adults had asthma. Nowadays the figure is more like 1 in 12.

Asthma was already starting to become more prevalent by 1989, and it prompted an epidemiologist named Professor David Strachan at the University of London to wonder why.

Finding an inverse relationship between family size and the incidence of atopic disorders (atopic disorders are allergic conditions such as asthma and hay fever) he formulated a principle he called the “Hygiene Hypothesis”.

Put simply, he said that if you have more brothers and sisters, youʼre more likely to be exposed to a wider variety and number of germs, meaning you’ll develop a stronger immune system.

Strachan also suggested that improved household amenities and higher standards of personal cleanliness reduced exposure to the kinds of microbes which build immunity.

Strachanʼs hygiene hypothesis was questioned by many, and in fact even he later admitted that it “owed more to an alliterative tendency than to an aspiration to claim a new scientific paradigm”.

A rather awkward admission.

The thing is, he must have been at least on the right track as others have since gone on to re-craft his ideas in ways which may hold more water.

In 2003, Professor Graham Rook proposed the “Old Friends” hypothesis, which suggests that the microbes we actually need to be exposed to are those weʼve inherited from our primitive mammalian and human ancestors.

Since the majority of mammalian evolution took place in mud and rotting vegetation, Professor Rook argues that our immune systems can neither develop properly nor function without exposure to these ancient species.

Hmm… What do you think? Anyone for a mud and rotting vegetation spa break?

Maybe not.

More recently Italian immunologist Dr. Paolo Matricardi (2010) has proposed that microbial variety is whatʼs most important.

He says diversity and turnover of bacterial species is a key factor in priming and regulating the immune system. A varied bacterial diet is what we should aim for, it seems, and plenty of it.

As atopic disorders affect more and more people, it’s interesting to note that two groups of children do significantly better than others in terms of avoiding these unpleasant, life-limiting conditions.

The first are those who grow up in a family with a dog.

Children who share their quarters with a canine are less likely to suffer from asthma, perhaps because of increased exposure to bacteria.

Interestingly itʼs an additive effect, so the more dogs (or cats) you have, the lower your risk of succumbing to asthma.

The other group of kids who do well?

The children of farmers. Again, itʼs believed that this is down to them being surrounded by diverse bacteria.

Overall, maybe it would pay us to be more mindful of whatʼs sometimes called biome depletion.

An overzealousness with the hand-sanitizer may do you more harm than good, particularly since itʼs now believed that reduced microbial exposure could be behind more than just the explosive growth of asthma and hay fever.

It might, for example, also be linked to Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and even some types of mental health condition, including depression.

So although I hesitate to say it, perhaps itʼs time to step away from the Purell.

And if you donʼt live on a farm, at least get out into the garden, naturally feeling free to frolic in some rotting vegetation.

Preferably with a dog.

Or even better, two.

Have a great week!


 

Further reading

Asthma in the US

Can It Be Bad to Be Too Clean?: The Hygiene Hypothesis

Hygiene hypothesis

Does childhood exposure to germs help prevent asthma?

National Surveillance for Asthma — United States

The ʻhygiene hypothesisʼ for autoimmune and allergic diseases: an update

The Hygiene Hypothesis: Are Cleanlier Lifestyles Causing More Allergies For Kids?

Family size, infection and atopy: the first decade of the “hygiene hypothesis”