In this Viome review we discuss the pros and cons of stool testing, and how Viome compares to other tests.
Nowadays, with so many supplements and diets to choose from it is sometimes confusing to understand what is the best option for you!
.... and tests like Viome can help you identify your optimal diet.
With the growing research into gut health gaining massive popularity, and the results showing that our gut bacteria influences nearly every aspect of our health - looking after your gut health is a priority if you want to be healthy.
Our gut health is optimized by the trillions of bacteria and Viome's AI learning program helps us to make sense of that information.
The term ‘bacteria’ can often bring up images of a pesky microorganism that’s up to no good, but your gut harbors a lot of bacteria. And in the ideal situation, most of them would be good. That’s where health comes into place; proper gut health means a balance between good and bad bacteria.
Like we mentioned, your gut has a bigger job than just absorbing nutrients because the bacteria it contains can influence immune function and hormone regulation, among other functions of your body. Nonetheless, it always starts with a healthy gut, and the best way to ensure this is to eat the right food.
So, you need to eat the right things and keep your gut in optimal balance, but how do you know what to eat?
Unfortunately, looking up diets that promote ‘gut health’ on Google won’t help. The problem with diets is that they’re generalized for a large group of people, and what suits other may not necessarily suit you.
While one person might feel fantastic on a Vegan, Keto or some other diet, someone else may feel terrible.
While just eating "real food" is the best idea, when I did my Viome test it identified two foods that I was eating a lot that were my "kryptonite" and I should be avoiding - they were cashews and blackberries (I tested in the middle of blackberry season!).
The best way to assess what you should be eating is to literally know what bacteria is inside your gut. Without the right testing methods and tools, this is impossible. Hence, you need to ask experts like Viome to do it for you.
Viome disagrees with the concept of a one-size fits all diet for better health. That’s why they created a test that can allow them to make eating recommendations. They employ advanced equipment at the Los Alamos National lab to determine what strains of bacteria and species of organisms live in your gut.
With their powerful technology, they’re able to evaluate how active each type of bacteria is and assess whether microorganisms act on your food to produce toxins or break down nutrients into beneficial substances.
Then, their nutrition scientists deliver this critical information to an AI engine, which then recommends what exact foods your body needs to consume. Similarly, it recommends which foods you shouldn’t be eating in order to keep your gut balanced.
It’s simple really. You need to pay for the test and Viome sends you a sampling kit that’s easy to use at home. The kit is to test your gut intelligence, and you need to send a stool sample for it. After sending your sample, you can track when it reaches the lab, and after it’s processed, you’ll start receiving personalized recommendations.
So, what do you get and not get from the Viome test? Let’s go through the pros and cons.
Starting with the pros, you’ll find that Viome offers a lot of benefits through a single and convenient service.
A major benefit of the Viome test, when compared to others, is that you get personalized food recommendations based on your gut health results. This means that you get daily notifications on what foods are good versus which ones you should avoid, or eat in moderation.
The researchers behind Viome know you can’t really do much with raw data unless you’re a professional who understands the role of different microorganisms in the gut. Hence, Viome recommends foods so you don’t need to take your tests to a specialist separately to understand what you need to eat.
The Viome test is available for USD 399 on the website, with the occasional promotion or special offer, so keep your eyes open if you’re waiting for a discount.
That aside, you get far more value at the price of a single test. While other companies offer similar testing services, few people can afford to provide customers with metatranscriptome testing due to the high cost.
Not to mention, they only provide raw data, with little to no relevant information that you can rely on. Fortunately, Viome can charge a low price of USD 399 because they’ve licensed advanced technology from the Los Alamos National Lab. Also, Viome employs an AI database to give you recommendations, which alone can jack up the price.
After receiving your first Viome test, you’ll want to know how well your gut microbiome is doing weeks after you started following the recommendations.
Luckily, Viome offers retesting services within the same year at a reduced price of USD 199. This way, you can get a retest a few months after the initial test to see how well your body is responding to diet changes, in objective terms, that is.
Of course, you can always try to notice thee little changes that come when you start following a regulated intake of certain foods. For instance, your energy levels can rise, you’ll feel less bloated, and your immune functions will work better.
Besides personal food recommendations, Viome gives you detailed suggestions on how you have to prepare the recommended foods. In truth, your gut’s microbiome is sensitive to any change that you make in your diet.
Hence, any changes you make to your preparation techniques or quantity can deeply impact the effect the food has on your gut.
Viome understands this, and that’s why they provide specific details as to what foods you should avoid and what you should eat in moderation because avoiding a type of food isn’t the same as consuming it in moderation.
Of course, how closely you follow recommendations and serving suggestions also influence the change you eventually experience.
When you send your sample to Viome, it takes about a week for them to receive it, and a few more weeks’ for you to get results.
Do note that it isn’t easy to test or measure your gut microbiome, so this impeccable speed is thanks to Viome’s use of metatranscriptome testing and an AI database that helps them make detailed food suggestions and recommendations.
Since it’s an annual service rather than a monthly one that requires you to pay for consistent food suggestions, there’s a benefit:
Viome keeps improving its database and research findings, so an annual service means you gain access to even more information each year. Unlike other services that offer VIP extras, Viome makes sure that everyone gets the best of their service, and that’s cool.
So even if you do a test at the start of the year, the information that you learn from that test will continue to be updated throughout the year as the AI program is continually learning.
Where there are pros, there are some cons too. But in the case of Viome, there are hardly any.
As of yet, Viome doesn’t offer personalized coaching services from a professional, which can rack up the costs a lot. Right now, they employ a gene pathway scoring system and machine learning model to derive trends and patterns from data.
Unfortunately, due to state regulatory reasons, the Viome test is unavailable temporarily in states like New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Delaware.
It was just recently made available in Australia, and now in many parts of the world.
Viome is also available now in many parts of Europe and the U.K.
When compared to other companies that give your insider info on your gut, how does Viome match up?
The Ubiome service is pretty similar, and their ExplorerPlus kit costs the same, but it falls short because it doesn’t offer you specific food recommendations. Hence, you’re paying the same amount without getting the same benefits.
The Thryve test doesn’t employ a metatranscriptome testing method, and it can only test for bacteria, no other microorganisms. In addition, they don’t have a large database to compare against, so results can often turn out generalized.
Although American Gut employs similar testing technology as Viome, they only provide customers with raw data, making it difficult to decipher. Not to mention, you don’t get any recommendations on what you should and shouldn’t be eating.
In addition, it takes their lab almost two weeks to receive your sample, after which you’ll need to wait for a couple of months to know the results. By then, your gut’s microbiome will change multiple times, rendering the results invalid.
Viome always provides relevant research and science-based evidence to support their service and back their claims. For them, there’s always a science behind your health, and they strive to give you the best possible service, even if it means disproving their findings until they get results.
If someone has specific gut issues like IBS I would still recommend the G.I Map test as the best place to start - this does not test for a wide range of bacteria like Viome, but it tests for the most common pathogens as well as leaky gut markers, digestive enzymes and other intestinal health indicators and this helps to target specific problems
Viome is definitely the real deal in terms of gut health tests if you are wanting to understand the "big picture" when it comes to your gut health, and with the cost of the Viome test coming down from the original $399, you’re definitely getting the best value for your money.
Michael is head consultant at Planet Naturopath - Functional Medicine and Nutrition Solutions. As Seen