More Than Ten Million Australians Have Gut Health Problems

Your gut is impacting your life more than you think.

Almost 10.7 million Australians -- roughly half the population -- complain of some form of digestive problem,  according to the Gut Foundation Australia.

As science continues to progress, there is increasing evidence to suggest that the gut microbiome -- the bacteria and microorganisms living in the gut -- has an influence on several areas of our health.

This includes links to diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and even to mental health.

"Bacteria in your gut can actually produce neurotransmitters," Senior Scientist Dr Alena Pribyl  told ten daily.

One notable neurotransmitter identified is GABA, which contributes not only to motor control and vision, but regulates anxiety.

"This is amazing because some of the research that’s coming out suggests our gut bacteria could actually be playing a role in our mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia,” Pribyl said.

Pribyl said the behavior of gut bacteria is heavily dependent on a person's diet, which determines whether the by-products produced in the gut are harmful or helpful to overall health.

According to dietitian Dr Joanna McMillan there is potential to improve our health by manipulating the gut microbiome.

Now, Brisbane-based company Microba, in collaboration with the University of Queensland, has developed the country's first gut bacteria DNA sequencing technology direct-to-customer.

The test involves mailing a sample of faecal matter to a laboratory where DNA sequencing technology is used to take a comprehensive picture of the species of bacteria and micro-organisms living inside the gut.

Users are then able to access their results through an interactive website, which then provides a breakdown of the key findings and how gut bacteria is affecting their health.

Results of the test will be available through an interactive online portal. Image: Provided

Researchers say the test is significantly more accurate and comprehensive than existing methods.

“For the first time we’re able to tell people not only which species are in their gut, but we’re also able to tell people what those microbes are capable of doing," Pribyl  told ten daily.

"This is something that was missing before."