A few months ago, I wrote about how my loving husband got me a poop test for Mother’s Day. Talk about romantic! All jokes aside, I actually had been wanting to get an inside look at my gut health for a long time. So when many other Moms were receiving chocolate and roses, I opened up my gut testing kit from Viome.
Research about the gut and its link to nearly every aspect of health has been growing since the Human Microbiome Project launched in 2007. We now know that the body contains trillions of microscopic organisms that make up a living ecosystem. Scientist actually say that when you look at the numbers as a whole, we are more bacteria than we are human.
The bacteria that line our gut play an important role in our overall health. They are involved in regulating hormones, immune health, nervous system function, sleep, mental health, and so much more. The health of the gut is so important that doctors are now performing fecal transplants – essentially using poop from a healthy gut to transplant a new ecosystem into an unhealthy gut.
While I’m not crazy about the idea of taking poop pills or having a surgical poop transplant, I have battled digestive issues my entire life and have been searching for answers for many years. I have done many different tests to try and get to the bottom of my gut health, some traditional and some not. Besides the traditional tests like colonoscopies and upper endoscopies, I have done IgG food intolerance testing, saliva testing, and most recently – poop testing.
When I originally started researching the various gut microbiome tests available, I quickly had it narrowed down to just a small handful of companies. I wanted something comprehensive that would give me a true picture of the types of bacteria and viruses living in my gut. If you’re interested in which companies I looking into and how I made my choice, you can read more about it in my original post on gut microbiome testing.
Ultimately, I chose a company called Viome. I said this in my original post, but I think it is worth stating again. Viome is not paying me any money for this post and I am not affiliated with them in any way. I wanted to write a completely unbiased review of my overall experience with my Viome gut health test.
Are you ready? Let’s dive into my results.
My Viome Gut Intelligence Test Results
One thing I really like about Viome is their user-friendly design. They have a great customer portal that gives you access to all of your test results and recommendations. It has some other great features like reminders about diet changes you may need to make, videos about understanding your results, and testimonials from other customers.
You can access the customer portal from your computer or through Viome’s customer app. This comes in handy when you are dining out at a restaurant or at the grocery store and can’t remember if avocados are a superfood for you or best avoided.
Viome uses metatranscriptomic sequencing technology, looking at each microorganism down to the DNA and RNA level. This detailed picture of the exact strains making up our individual ecosystem can give us a lot of information about our digestive health and our health overall.
Viome’s artificial intelligence system, Vie, looks at all of this information along with answers from questionnaires you fill out on things like nutrition and lifestyle. Vie compares this to all of the other data from other people’s microbiomes and is able to give actionable insight on the steps necessary to improve health.
You can see in the picture above that the sample you provide is only a small part of the information that Vie looks at. There are personal questions about you specifically, general questions about your overall wellness, nutritional questions about how food affects you, questions about physical and mental symptoms you are experiencing, and lifestyle questions about your daily health choices. All of these questionnaires must be filled out in order to receive your recommendations.
One of the sections in the results is called “All My Scores.” This breaks down your various microbial pathways into three sections: “Keep it up” (good), “you’re getting there” (average), and “let’s improve these” (needs improvement).
Wondering what microbial pathways are? According to Viome:
“Microbial pathways are sequences of molecular events, such as biochemical reactions, needed to carry out a specific microbial function or process. Microbes and all living cells perform thousands of these reactions daily in order to keep us alive. The series of reactions that take place when a microbe breaks down a sugar molecule to turn it into energy or how microbes take a specific fiber and turn it into butyrate are examples of microbial pathways. Gene expression data points us to the active pathways that tell us what your microbes are doing and what it means for your overall functional activity patterns. Pathway analysis allows us to suggest actionable diet and supplement recommendations with molecular-level precision.”
As you can partly see in my sample, I had four pathways that need improvement, three that were good, and twelve that were average. For each pathway, you can click on your results to learn more about what that pathway does including a small video explaining it in more detail.
The next set of results is what I was most interested in – my gut bacteria! I got a complete list of all of the different microbial species making up my ecosystem. Viome breaks these down by eukaryotes, viruses, bacteria, archae, and probiotics. All in all, there were 119 different types of bacteria and 3 viruses identified in my gut.
I loved being able to scroll through all of the different species and look for ones that I know are health-promoting and those that I know are not. For example, Lactobacillus
One drawback to the “My Microbiome” results section is that it doesn’t give you details about each species identified. Viome provides a list of all of the microbes they identified, but that’s it. While they do make some food and lifestyle recommendations based upon your individual ecosystem, they don’t give you the “why” behind them. This was what I had wanted to know the most, so I was very disappointed.
I did try to research some of the species listed in my results to better understand my gut’s ecosystem, but it is a time consuming process and I’m still not finished with my list. I did reach out to Viome about this, and their response was that they are constantly adding updates and to keep watching for new additions. There is a final result at the bottom of my list of microbes that says “microbial diversity score: coming soon.”
The next section was my food recommendations. Viome takes all of the data from your scores and questionnaires, and makes recommendations on foods that you should avoid. They state,”We recommend you avoid these foods. These foods are unhealthy for your gut health and biodiversity.”
My list of foods to avoid included:
- Brussel Sprouts
- Mustard Greens
Foods that Viome recommended I eat more of are listed as “superfoods” and are foods that provide the most benefit to my gut health and biodiversity.
My list of superfoods to eat more of included:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Bell Pepper
- Black Beans
- Bell Pepper
- Black Beans
- Bone Broth (Mammal)
- Brazil Nuts
- Cod (Alaskan)
- Dandelion Greens
- Egg Yolk (Chicken)
- Flax Oil
- Jerusalem Artichoke
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Salmon (Wild-Caught)
- Sunflower Seeds
- Sweet Potato or Yam
- Turkey (White Meat)
There is also an “all foods” section that further breaks food down into superfoods, enjoy, minimize, and avoid. You can see a list of all foods alphabetically with your recommendations beside them or search for a particular item.
All of these results are also available in Viome’s app, so you can easily access them on-the-go!
My Final Thoughts
All in all, I think Viome’s Gut Intelligence Test offers a good inside look at your gut health and provides a lot of value. I was a little disappointed that there was not more detail about the individual microbes and what current research says about them.
Since doing my Viome test, I started a new gut health regimen taking spore-based probiotics, prebiotics, and a supplement to heal my gut lining. If you’re interested in what I’m taking, you can read more about it in this post on the gut microbiome.
I plan on re-testing my gut in the next 6 months, but I haven’t decided if I will do so with Viome or choose a different company. I’d like to have a better understanding of the types of bacteria in my gut, and am hoping Viome improves this over the next several months. If not, I’ll keep looking into other companies and will be sure to write a new post about that too!
Have you taken a gut health test? Which test did you take and what was your experience like? Leave me a comment below and let me know!