The connection between gut health and overall wellness has been understood for thousands of years.
"All Disease Begins in The Gut." - Hippocrates
Our microbiomes contain more than 40 trillion microorganisms(!) and more and more research is uncovering impact of gut health on everything from inflammation, to obesity, to metabolic illnesses, to psychiatric disorders. In fact, our microbiomes have a greater impact on our health, performance, and longevity than our genetics!
Only recently has technology enabled us to quantify what is happening inside our guts. Add to this rapid advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and you can see the enormous potential to revolutionize the way we optimize wellness.
What if you were able to get detailed insights into your gut health, translated into actionable wellness recommendations like personalized nutrition? That’s exactly what Viome has set out to accomplish.
This is currently all of the latest information available about Viome. As new features and information becomes available I will update it here. Notice something missing or outdated? Let me know!
What is Viome?
Viome is a cutting-edge service that analyzes your microbiome and metabolism, then applies sophisticated machine learning to make personal nutritional recommendations to optimize your wellness (Viome uses a combination of “-omics" data and AI analysis to generate personalized recommendations).
Viome’s technology comes out of Los Alamos National Lab, where it was being used in national security research to identify sources of potential biological attacks by doing complete sequencing of victims’ microbiomes. Viome was founded by serial entrepreneur (and billionaire) Naveen Jain, who also co-founded Moon Express (attempting to land the first private spacecraft on the moon).
Viome Test Kit
The Viome test kit you receive in the mail actually contains two separate tests* - a gut intelligence test and a metabolic test, along with some questionnaires via the Viome app that collect additional information used to tailor your recommendations (such as age, gender, current diet, allergies, supplements, symptoms, lifestyle).
💩 Gut Intelligence Test
Poop. Yes, that’s what they mean by “gut test” (we’re all grownups here, right?). You place the provided adhesive toilet liner over your toilet to collect your “business,” then you retrieve a tiny sample that is placed into a collection tube. It’s easier than it sounds. You then scan the code on the tube using the Viome app and mail it back using the prepaid envelope.
🥤Metabolic Intelligence and Body Test
The metabolic intelligence test gathers information on how well you metabolize glucose via an oral carbohydrate challenge test for which you consume a specific amount of a sugary drink (provided), then take several blood glucose measurements over the next 90 minutes (with the provided glucose meter) and enter the results in the Viome app.
The body test involves measuring your waist and hip circumference (using the provided measuring tape) and taking your resting pulse. These results are also entered into the Viome app.
(* According to Viome’s website, they are in the final phases of incorporating blood transcriptomics and urine metabolomics data into their algorithm as well.)
My Viome Results
A few weeks after submitting my gut intelligence sample and completing my questionaires, my results showed up in my Viome app (you can access your Viome results via both mobile app and website).
Wellness Index Scores
The first thing you are shown is your “Wellness Index” - an overall summary of your current state of wellness, which is made up of your gut, metabolic, and body scores. In my case, my wellness index is in the desired (green) range, but there is still room for improvement.
Viome's gut score reflects your microbiome health, based on your gut intelligence test. There are many factors involved such as diversity, inflammatory makers, and good (and bad) organisms. My results were again in the green, and although they can also be improved, seeing this meant a lot to me because I have spent the past five years working on restoring my gut health!
Viome's metabolic score takes into account how your body responded to the carbohydrate challenge, level of fitness, and exposure to substances that may be harming your energy production. In my case, I am in the metabolic “sweet spot.”
Viome's body score reflects your body proportions along with your answers to the lifestyle and and symptom questionnaires. Again, I was in the optimal range.
While these scores provide a nice summary of one’s wellness status, it would be helpful to get more insight into exactly what factors contribute to/detract from each of the scores (i.e., poor glycemic response, high resting heart rate, etc.).
My Personalized Viome Recommendations
Ok, here’s the (gluten-free) bread and (almond) butter of Viome’s service - their personalized baseline recommendations. After completing their analysis, Viome provides a set of AI-based, personalized diet and nutrient recommendations:
In my case, they identified that I metabolize carbohydrates very quickly so suggest I will respond best to a diet that stabilizes blood sugar and includes foods higher in healthy fats, includes lots of good quality proteins, and lots of fibrous vegetables. They also suggest I may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine, which is interesting because my genetic data actually indicates I am a fast metabolizer of caffeine (will need to look into this more).
Daily Diet as Percent of Calories
Viome recommends I aim for the following ratio of of macronutrients as a percentage of calories:
- 40% proteins - legumes, dairy, nuts, red meats, fowl, fish
- 35% fats - dairy, nuts, seeds, oils, butter, fatty meats, fowl, fish
- 25% complex carbohydrates - mainly vegetables, some fruit, and sprouted grains
Super-Foods: These are your personal go-to foods that offer maximum benefit to improve and maintain wellness. Viome recommends including one or two of your “super-foods” in your diet every day. I was pleasantly surprised with my personal super-foods, as they are staples of my existing diet - leafy greens, salmon, apples, avocados, and asparagus (apples were actually a bit of a surprise, as I had been limiting my consumption of fructose over the past few years but will be adding them back in!).
Indulge Foods: You can eat lots of these foods, as your body thrives on them. My indulge foods include beef and bone broth, salmon and sardines, avocados, blueberries, apples, yams, spinach, leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, and asparagus. Again, most of these are staples of my existing diet. I just need to eat more of them!
Enjoy Foods: Your body does well with these foods. They should form the foundation of your diet. I had a pretty extensive list here ranging from artichokes, beets, carrots, eggplant (?! nightshades!?), sauerkraut, squash, ginger, and turmeric, to almonds, brazil nuts, and pumpkin seeds, to butter, coconut oil, ghee, and olive oil, to buffalo, lamb, duck, and both chicken and turkey (dark meat only).
Minimize Foods: These foods can be eaten once in awhile, but do not promote optimal wellness. This is where starts to get difficult, because there are some items I do enjoy that are on my minimize list, such as kale, hot peppers, bananas, most berries, lemon and lime, pineapples and oranges, beer, coffee and wine (?!?), apple cider vinegar, dark chocolate, pork, and chicken and turkey (white meat).
Avoid Foods: Stay away from these foods. They are harmful to your overall wellness. My list seems very logical, with everything from wheat and barley, to cane sugar and maple syrup, to canola oil, to oats, faro, and couscous. However, my list also includes every form of rice! We’re talking white rice, brown rice, rice milk, and even rice noodles.
I’ve written extensively about my experience (and success) following the Bulletproof diet over the past few years, and although Viome’s recommendations are very much in line with my existing diet, it’s clear based on these recommendations that they want me to eliminate most starchy carbs in favor more fibrous vegetables. So no more rice with my sushi, pad Thai, or gluten-free pizza night (ok, maybe only once per month now). Also, I’ll swap out any gluten-free pasta I make at home with chickpea pasta (which also is high in protein).
As for minimizing some things I enjoy like coffee, does this mean I have to swear off things I enjoy forever? Probably not. The test results simply indicate that at this moment in time, my body does better without them (or at least keeping them to a minimum). Hopefully in the future Viome will share more insight as to why they make certain food recommendations.
My Gut (aka “expert mode”)
If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of what’s going on inside your gut, Viome also provides a breakdown of how each of the microbes in your gut contribute to the total metabolic activity of your microbiome. Microbes are made up of prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea), eukaryotes (fungi, parasites, etc.), and viruses. For bacteria, you can drill down from Phylum -> Genus -> Species -> Strain, and for Viruses you can drill down from Genus -> Species. Special icons are shown if an organism detected in your sample are beneficial, a probiotic, or rare in the population but high in you. You can also see how you compare the entire population (of Viome users) versus only those classified as “healthy.”
At first glance, my results showed a relatively high percentage of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes compared to everyone else, but on closer inspection it seems like the population totals are not adding up to 100% (I have emailed them about this bug). Also, I’d like to see some additional comparisons - for example, how do I compare to other high fat/low card dieters, others my age and/or gender, etc.
The diversity chart shows the richness (total variety of species) and diversity (amount of individual bacteria of each species) in your gut compared to both “healthy” and “average” populations. Ideally you want higher amounts of both richness and diversity. You can see that while my diversity is good (again I have spent several years working on restoring my gut health), I need to work on improving my diversity. In my case, Viome recommended I start taking a particular probiotic (Saccharomyces boulardii) and added fiber in the form of a prebiotic (Hyperbiotics prebiotic) to help repopulate my microbiome.
Typically, finding small amounts of human RNA are common in samples of healthy individuals. However, if you are seeing higher amounts of human RNA in your stool (as more cells lining the gut are shed) this could be a sign of underlying inflammation or infection.
In my case, my RNA was only at the 8th percentile of the population, which is great news! It means my levels of inflammation and/or infection are very low.
Good Guys, Probiotics, and Rare Bacteria
Additionally, Viome shows particular species of bacteria in your sample that are “good guys” (associated with many aspects of wellness such as lower rates of obesity, better anti-inflammatory markers, production of vitamins, and lower rates of numerous chronic conditions), probiotic products you may already be taking, and rare bacteria (those found and active in your microbiome, but not found or active in other people - since we each have a unique microbiome, it’s common to have your own set of rare bacteria).
As Viome continues building out their service they will updating their lists of organisms.
My Next Steps and Follow-up Viome Testing
Viome's annual plan includes one gut intelligence test and one metabolic intelligence test but some people may want to test more frequently based on personal goals. Based on my initial results, I will continue re-testing every two to three months to monitor my progress based on Viome's recommendations. Stay tuned!
Here are some common questions I have been getting about Viome:
How is Viome different than other gut microbiome testing companies like uBiome or American Gut Project?
On the surface it may seem like Viome is similar to other services such as uBiome and American Gut Project, but the technologies behind them are very different. While those services do provide some useful insights into your microbiome, their technology uses an older form sequencing called “16S sequencing,” whereas Viome’s technology (via Los Alamos National Lab) uses a much newer form of sequencing called “metatranscriptome sequencing.” What this means is that uBiome and American Gut are limited to identifying only a fraction of your gut bacteria, whereas Viome’s technology can identify all living matter in your gut - viruses, archaea, yeast, fungi, parasites, and bacteriophages - as well as identify which metabolites are being produced and which are missing, and ultimately provide correlation of microbes and their functions with common chronic conditions so actionable recommendations can be made.
What do I get when I sign up for Viome?
When you sign up for Viome, you will receive one one Gut Intelligence and Metabolic Intelligence test per year (you can order additional tests for $199 each), full access to Viome’s artificial intelligence engine, and a personalized easy-to-follow plan with precise diet and nutrition recommendations delivered via their app.
Does Viome offer data export or API?
Unfortunately, they do not yet offer a way to download your raw or analyzed data, but I am pressing them to offer up a way to export data. Hopefully it’s something they will offer in the future.