The American Gut Project

Published 12/14/2013. Last updated 1/4/2014.

Under the auspices of the Human Food Project, the American Gut Project is analyzing 10,000 samples of gut bacteria (along with oral, skin and vaginal bacteria) from 6,000 people around the world. It is the largest open-source science project to understand the microbial diversity of people around the world.
You can participate. Send a $99 donation to the project and they’ll send you a home sampling kit so you can collect swabs. In return, they’ll sequence your bacteria, send you a list of the bacteria in your samples and their relative abundance. You’ll get to see how your own microbiome compares to others and how your diet and lifestyle may be shaping your gut flora, which in turn influences almost every aspect of your health. The project scientists rightly describe the study as the “Anthropology of Microbes”.
The importance of the project is clear. With this global information, we’ll learn more about the relationship between our health, diet and environment. It might also be possible to develop biomarkers to predict aspects of our gut health based on a spit sample or a swab from a palm. For example, it’s known that arterial plaque has microbes in common with the mouth but not with the gut. Perhaps dental plaque in the future will be used to look at our heart health.
You can read more about the American Gut Project and join it at



A version of this page content will appear in my forthcoming 2014 Oriental Medicine Journal article THE MICROBIOTA-GUT-BRAIN AXIS: The constant two-way communication between our guts and our brains.

© Copyright 2013-2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

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6 thoughts on “The American Gut Project

  1. Hello. I have read your website with interest, and would like a test done. I have suffered from gut problems for years and years, and still have pain, bloating, indigestion, swelling, and gas. However, I live in New Zealand, a long way away. Is it possible to send a sample to any agents you may have in this country.

  2. I’m looking for a project that will help me find the CAUSE of my itching problem. Does your kit give a person some information on this subject. I have done a stool test and everything has come back negative. Used numerous creams no cure…Thank you

    1. Shirley & Ron,
      Since I don’t offer a microbiome testing kit myself, I assume you’re asking about the one the American Gut Project had available a few years ago to test the composition of your gut microbiome. I’m not sure if their kits are still available.

      If they are, you’d get a report on what’s living in your gut & then would have to do some research on your own – or consult a Functional Medicine practitioner (likely to be a Naturopath, Chiropractor or Integrative/Functional Dietician) to find out what’s unbalanced in there & causing the skin problem.

      Even without having such a report, if you were to work with a Functional Medicine practitioner, you could get insights into what’s causing this itch & what to do about it.

      Were you taking antibiotics before the itching began? If yes, and you didn’t restore the good bacteria in your gut afterwards, that could have led to your condition.

      Here are some articles that may help point you in the right direction:

      If your itching is from dry skin, I highly recommend emu oil. Here’s an article about its benefits:

      This is my favorite soap, made with emu oil – a bar lasts a very long time & I use it daily:

      This emu oil cream may help too:

      I hope this helps,

      Please Note:
      I am neither a physician nor a physical health care provider. Nothing I’ve written above or on this website is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  3. Gary,
    I read your book and now have just located your WEB site and newsletter….what a wealth of information…!!!

    I wonder if you could offer me any advice on the following issue.
    My company imports a probiotic product from Japan called
    Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics….see link below:

    As you know, It is becoming increasingly evident that healthy people have
    a widely diverse microbiome (ie. many different strains of
    bacteria) compared to people with various kinds of illnesses.

    Dr. Ohhira was the first person to recognize the importance of
    creating a multi-strain probiotic rather than just delivering large
    quantities of one or several strains.

    Twelve strains of probiotic bacteria are used to start the
    multi-year fermentation process for Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics.
    However, approximately 90 different fruits, vegetables,
    mushrooms and seaweeds are added to the fermentation
    vats at seasonally appropriate times throughout the year. These
    local organically grown foods are the prebiotic food supply that
    supports the growth and proliferation of the bacteria that are present.

    It is my belief that many different strains of bacteria are present
    on the wide range of prebiotic foods that are added to the
    fermentation vats at various times.

    Here is where I need some help: I want to find a company that can do
    an analysis of our product to determine how many strains of bacteria
    are present. I assume there are far more than just the 12 strains that
    are added initially to start the fermentation process.

    Any advice or comments you can offer will be appreciated.

    Warm regards, Ross

    1. Ross,
      I think you meant to write to someone else – Gary, who’s written a book on the microbiome or probiotics – to ask his advice on finding a company to perform an analysis of Dr Ohhira’s multi-strain probiotic supplement (which looks quite interesting, BTW). Perhaps his newsletter has a link to my site.

      No doubt you’ve done this already: A google search for “labs that analyze probiotics in supplements”. The search produced several such labs.

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