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Viome Health Intelligence Review: Hacking Your Gut & Cellular Health?

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Is broccoli the ultimate superfood, or too high in sulfur and damaging to the gut? If the answer seemed obvious, think again…

Viome's Recommendations to Avoid Healthy Superfoods

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, famously believed that “all disease begins in the gut” and that “one man’s medicine is another’s poison”.

Gut health is littered with generic advice:

  • Consume more prebiotic vegetables
  • Take daily probiotic supplements
  • Avoid meat because it increases TMAO
  • Oxalates in spinach cause kidney stores
  • Olive oil contains too much inflammatory omega-6 fat
  • Coffee, wine, and hot drinks are somehow both superfoods and toxic

Inspect healthy guts, however, differ tremendously. One person’s superfoods are anothers junkfoods.

In 2017, I tested a gut analysis service called Viome and it was virtually useless. They simply had not yet accumulated enough data to make scientific predictions. I recommended against it.

Their latest version of their Gut Intelligence product changes that and promises to accurately decode our microbiome.

“Viome is the Google of the human body.”

Dr. Mark Hyman

Analyzing and quantifying the inhabitants of your “second brain” so that you can make the best decisions for your own health.

And if you opt for their Health Intelligence package, your results also incorporate the status of your human cells.

Giving you the most comprehensive insight into the unique factors sabotaging your health, wellbeing, and performance.

But is Viome worth it?

I tested it again in 2022 to answer exactly that. While some of my results were common sense, I learned a great deal about my gut microbiome, mitochondrial health, and where I should focus to improve my overall wellbeing. This review of Viome’a Health Intelligence kit will help you determine if the test is right for you.

The Gut Microbiome Explained Simply

The gut microbiome is the sum total of over a trillion bacteria that reside in your gut. Colloquially, when talking about the microbiome, people often include the viruses living there too (technically your “microviome”). These microbes profoundly influence the health of your entire body and mind.

The composition of your microbiome changes with:

  • Age
  • Environment
  • Stress
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Health status
  • Medication use

And much more.

In a properly functioning microbiome, communities of “good” microbes keep the “bad” microbes in check. A ratio indicating a healthy microbiome would be about 4/5 good microbes, 1/5 bad.

We’ve known about the importance of the gut microbiome for a very long time. Ancient Ayurvedic medical texts alluded to it at least 5,000 years ago. Despite that, the modern medical toolbox contains few solutions—even diagnostics. Enter Viome.

What is Viome?

Optimizing your health can require a litany of siloed tests. Bloodwork, gut analysis, genetic testing, biological age testing, oral microbiome testing, individual health coaching, and more.

None of these systems integrate, so you’re left manually piecing everything together.

In 2016, Naveen Jain launched the San Francisco-based startup Viome to “prevent and reverse chronic diseases by decoding human biology”.

Viome is an all-in-one personalized health platform. The testing service runs your sample through specially trained artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to analyze the microbes and mRNA responsible for your current state of health. Viome then:

  • Identifies areas of concern
  • Provides scorecards on different facets of cellular health
  • Recommends your unique “superfoods” to enjoy and “kryptonites” to avoid
  • Customizes supplements based on your results

These aren’t the generic recommendations like “eat more veggies” and “avoid meat”. They’re deeply personalized to how your biology currently will respond to more than 400 foods within their database. To see what I mean, check out My Results below.

By eating the suggested foods, and skipping the ones labeled “avoid”, you stabilize your blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and feel better.

As you’d expect from a pioneer, Viome is actively researching the gut microbiome:

Since I first tested them, Viome entered the biological age testing market with their new Health Intelligence kit.

Viome Pros & Cons

Viome Pros

Identifies virtually all microorganisms in gut (most tests only measure bacteria)

Can help identify SIBO and gut dysbiosis

Unique recommendations tailored to your needs

Uses more functional and private RNA data (as opposed to DNA)

Becoming significantly cheaper as the technology evolves

10% discount with code URBAN

High-profile scientists advising Viome

World’s largest gut, glucose, and cellular health dataset

Personalizes a supplement stack for you

Free updates to your results as the platform improves

Viome Cons

Short return window and early cancellation fee for subscription

Unavailable to residents of New York State

Some recommendations do not have scientific backing

Questionnaire takes a full hour

Lacking information around microbe findings (must Google to learn about prevalence, significance, etc)

Follow-up tests recommended to track improvement

Does not sample microbiome of small intestines (since sample comes from colon)

Few lifestyle suggestions (most are supplements)

While I like the service, it’s not perfect. So I’ll explain a few pros and cons in more detail.

Use the exclusive Viome code URBAN to save 10%

The pros of Viome

What do I like about Viome?

Accuracy. The technology they use quantifies the more functional RNA output of the microbes in your gut. This is one case where your RNA yields greater insights than DNA.

Microbial activity. If you’re curious about the exact contents of the critters in your gut, or you’re looking for specific microbes, you can use their “My Active Microbes” to filter down to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Private. A major issue with diagnostic companies, is the privacy of your data. Who gets access, and what gets shared with them. By prioritizing RNA data, even if it were not anonymized and encrypted (which it is), it would be significantly less revealing and less valuable to large biotech companies.

Real-time. Your Viome results change over time as you get healthier. When you address your current health challenges, six months down the line Viome will suggest new recommendations as deemed appropriate. You can use Viome as a near real-time report card on your current health status.

The cons of Viome

My Viome experience hasn’t been perfect. Here are a few of the cons of this testing service.

Slow. From coming across the service to getting your results — from start to finish takes over a month. Five or more weeks if you aren’t diligent about getting your sample in the mail quickly. By then, some of the initial excitement dies.

When to take the test. When I did Viome in 2017, my sample was from two weeks post-international travel. Should I have waited longer for my microbiome to adapt back? How would timing change if I had taken antibiotics recently? What if I was recently sick? With so much change in my routine, I had a hard time determining the ideal time to test.

Deeper cellular health recommendations. You get scores and sub-scores, along with general information about how to optimize each. But these give general recommendations, most of which are supplements. I’d like to see more information, data, and lifestyle options.

Grocery printout. Back in 2017, I couldn’t find a great way to export the foods and where they sit on each tier. I had created a tool to export everything as a CSV. But it was clunky and old. I assumed they’d have something more advanced today, but not that I saw.

Biological age information. Since they don’t share details of their algorithm, we don’t know the components that go into biological age. I don’t know whether I can trust their calculation.

The Viome Products

Viome Test Kits Products Review

Right now, Viome offers three different products. You choose between two health testing packages:

  • Gut intelligence
  • Health intelligence

And then have the option to add-on tailor-made supplements.

Gut Intelligence

Gut Intelligence is Viome’s entry-level product. It was also their original test kit and the one I demoed in 2017.

With just a stool sample and answers to their questionnaire, this packages informs you about the health of your microbiome and what you can do to improve it. You get a report that gives you insights into how the microorganisms in your gut influence:

  • Inflammation
  • Metabolic fitness
  • Digestive efficiency
  • Gut lining health
  • Protein fermentation
  • Gas production
  • Microbial diversity

You can click into each category for a more granular breakdown of the components of the score. For example, within inflammation you’ll find the following sub-scores:

  • Biofilm, Chemotaxis, and Virulence Pathways
  • Butyrate Production Pathways
  • LPS Biosynthesis Pathways
  • Flagellar Assembly Pathways
  • Sulfide Gas Production Pathways
  • Ammonia Production Pathways
  • Bile Acid Metabolism Pathways
  • Uric Acid Production Pathways
  • Methane Gas Production Pathways
  • Salt Stress Pathways

Each score comes with a detailed explanation of what it means, the ideal nutrients and dosages to fix it, and a thorough references section for the curious to further investigate the science.

The Gut Intelligence package is all you need to understand your gut microbiome and nutritional needs on a deep level.

If you want your human cells analyzed too, however, I suggest the upgrade.

Health Intelligence

Health Intelligence is Viome’s answer to a more holistic overview of your health. Gut health alone comprises a staggering percent of overall health. Submitting a blood sample for the Health Intelligence kit, however, adds the entire dimension of human gene expression to your results. Getting you the richest possible health optimization data.

Viome’s Health Intelligence measures your:

  • Gut Microbiome Health
  • Cellular Health
  • Mitochondrial Health
  • Immune System Health
  • Stress Response Health
  • Biological Age

I’ll break down each score for you below.

Cellular Health indicates how efficiently your cells are working, and your environmental toxicity. Sub-scores inside Cellular Health include:

  • Mitochondrial Health
  • Immune System Activation
  • Cellular Stress
  • Cellular Senescence

Mitochondria are organelles responsible for energy and metabolism. Suboptimal mitochondria accelerate aging, decrease metabolism, and lead to problems with cardiovascular and brain health. Sub-scores inside Mitochondrial Health include:

  • Mitochondrial Biogenesis Pathways
  • Energy Production Pathways

Immune System Health assesses whether your immune system is over-activated (autoimmune), under-activated (greater susceptibility to infection), or perfectly balanced. Sub-scores inside Immune System Health include:

  • Inflammatory Activity
  • Gut Lining Health
  • Immune System Activation
  • Cellular Stress

Stress Response combines your markers of microbiome and human gene stress into a single score. Sub-scores inside Stress Response Health include:

  • Microbiome-Induced Stress
  • Cellular Stress

Finally, up last is Biological Age. We’re all familiar with Chronological age — how many calendar years we’ve been alive. Biological Age, on the other hand, measures the equivalence of how well our cells function. Live a healthy life, and your biological age can quickly drop below chronological age. Start smoking, however, and your Biological Age will rapidly increase. Biological age testing is one of the hot longevity trends as it show in near real-time how basic lifestyle changes impact our healthspan.

Viome Precision Supplements

Viome Health Intelligence Precision Supplements Recommendations Review

Once you get your reports back, you can simply choose to follow Viome’s recommended nutrition plan.

If you want faster health optimization results, Viome’s physicians also offer precisely formulas of vitamins, food extracts, herbs, amino acids, probiotics, and prebiotics to match your needs.

They offer one to three options, depending on whether you bought Gut Intelligence or Health Intelligence:

  • Precision Supplements Complete for cellular and gut health ($149 monthly)
  • Precision Supplements for cellular health ($99 monthly)
  • Precision Probiotics + Prebiotics for gut health ($49 monthly)

Viome’s prebiotics, probiotics and supplement recommendations are completely optional.

Since I already own a huge arsenal (hundreds of supplements), I consulted their list and began my own regimen.

The Science Behind How Viome Works

Depending on the plan you choose, Viome uses up to two types of analytics.

First, all plans rely on their AI and mRNA metatranscriptome sequencing which identifies and quantifies microorganisms in the gut microbiome.

Samples submit by Health Intelligence users also undergo what’s called “whole blood analysis“. This test provides insight into the physiological aging process. Including biomarkers of immunity, disease, lifestyle, nutrition, and more. Whole blood analysis unlocks insights contained within human gene expression.

Early on, they also sponsored a clinical trial with continuous glucose monitors to train their artificial intelligence to predict how certain microbes influence blood sugar response to foods.

From analyzing hundreds of thousands of other users, and correlating that data with thorough intake questionnaires, Viome has amassed the world’s largest database of gut and cellular health data.

Three to four weeks after submitting your sample, you’ll receive personalized recommendations for:

  • Foods
  • Supplements

Viome tiers foods into a categorical hierarchy:

  • Superfoods — feast on these as much as you can
  • Enjoy — eat lots of these foods
  • Minimize — best saved for special treats
  • Avoid — your body will not respond well to these “kryptonite” foods

You can click into any of the foods for a detailed description on how Viome came up with its suggestion.

What Viome Tests Detect & Tell You

Viome Health Intelligence Shjowing Active Microbes (Bacteria, Viruses, Yeast, Fungi, Archaea, Molds, Eukaryotes) In My Body
Viruses present within my microbiome

Viome’s uses the most thorough analytics in the industry and can detect far more in your samples than their competitors. Most companies only identify bacteria, and ignore the many other types of microorganisms vital to overall health.

No matter the package you choose, Viome’s tests identify:

  • Bacteria
  • Yeast and other fungi
  • Viruses
  • Archaea
  • Molds
  • Eukaryotes

Officially, Viome does not diagnose any diseases.

Users (myself included) have used Viome to self-diagnose many conditions:

  • SIBO, SIFO, candida, and other microbial over-growth
  • Anxiety, depression, and other chronic conditions
  • Bowel issues like IBD, IBS, and Crohn’s disease
  • Skin problems like eczema, rash, and acne
  • Diabetes, over-nutrition, and obesity
  • Parasite infections
  • Leaky gut

Best of all, it can help you identify the root cause of high-inflammation and other suboptimal biomarkers returned by recent InsideTracker blood test or SelfDecode genetic analysis.

In the hands of a skilled practitioner, your Viome results tell a LOT.

Benefits of Viome Testing

By now you’re probably wondering…

Why follow the Viome recommendations?

Let me tell you from personal experience, you can get away with ignoring their suggestions… until one day you cannot.

Symptoms of food intolerance (like bloating, gas, indigestion, poor nutrient absorption, etc) will only continue to grow until you stop consuming the problematic foods.

Eating the foods most suited to your gut microbiome:

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces post-meal blood sugar
  • Increases your energy levels
  • Lowers your biological age
  • Improves cellular health
  • Balances immunity

And indirectly leads to weight loss.

Plus, you get the freedom of not forcing down the “health foods” that you’ve come to despise (ie kale and broccoli) because they’re actually sabotaging your health.

The Viome Process

Viome Test Process Review: How it Works

If you decide to try it for yourself, here’s the process you’ll go through.

1. Order kit

Choose between Gut Intelligence and Health Intelligence. If your budget is tight, go for Gut Intelligence. But if you’re looking for the most possible actionable information, Health Intelligence is worth the additional $99. You get far more data.

You can order either through their site HERE, and it should arrive a few days after you receive shipping confirmation.

2. Register & fill out questionnaire

While you’re waiting for the sample, start filling out the questionnaire. It’s extremely thorough and takes a long time to complete. I chunked it up into three twenty minute sessions. You’ll answer all kinds of questions on your diet, lifestyle, exercise, supplementation/medication use, recreational drug use, movement habits, and work-related questions.

Once your kit arrives, you’ll enter the serial number into the Viome web app to register and link your specimens to your profile.

3. Collect & mail sample

Both plans require a gut sample, and Health Intelligence also needs a few drops of blood. Collecting a gut microbiome sample isn’t the most fun, though it’s the same process for most any gut test. Since their debut, Viome has always collected a tiny bit of stool and they provide some basic tools to simplify the collection process.

Once you’ve collected your sample(s), you put them into the included pre-paid envelope and ship it off back to Viome.

4. View results

After receipt, Viome provides occasional updates on the status of your sample. Processing takes around three to five weeks. Gut Intelligence processes slightly faster since it’s just one sample.

When your samples have successfully processed, you’ll get an email and your results will appear in your web portal.

5. Apply

The last step is the most important! Once you’ve decoded your gut microbiome and optionally cellular health, you’ll have a long list of recommendations to put to the test.

Notice how you feel when eating a “superfood”-rich meal. Sometimes situations warrant a meal of “avoid” foods. You may not immediately feel a difference. But you should over time.

As you remove the foods least compatible with your microbiome, it will adapt. Inflammation will drop, and nutritional needs will change. Immunity will normalize. Biological age will decrease. This is where people report weight loss, greater energy, reversing their digestive issues, and optimizing their health.

Plus, when you optimize your health and digestion, you also optimize your physical and cognitive performance.

Should you want data, additional follow-up tests will also show your health improving.

I’m speaking from experience. My Viome results showed that I had a lot of potential improvements to make.

My Viome Experience

Viome Health Intelligence Scorecard Dashboard Overview

According to the powerful DNA testing service called SelfDecode (see my review), I’m in the top 93 percentile in terms of gut inflammation. Meaning that only 7 percent of people have a greater genetic susceptibility.

So I need to be extra careful with my diet.

I first tested Gut Intelligence in 2017 after hearing Naveen Jain on a podcast.

This was just one year after the company launched. Most of my results were obvious. I didn’t need to submit a sample to tell me to avoid refined sugar, processed grains, or classically inflammatory foods.

I did discover that my daily broccoli and cruciferous veggies habit had overloaded my sulfur pathways and that I should back off them a bit. I happily (and ignorantly) discarded that advice, chalking it up to inaccurate algorithms.

Years later, in 2022, I decided to go for round two, and upgraded to the Health Intelligence test kit. Low-and-behold, I’m met with some of the same food recommendations. Since I didn’t heed the advice and completely forgot about Viome, more of the foods previously in the “minimize” category now have made the “avoid” list.

This time I am following the guidelines. I’m adding the supplements to my routine, and altering my grocery shopping list accordingly.

It’s a good reminder that not all “universal” health foods agree with my body.

My Viome experience hasn’t been perfect. Here are a few of the cons of this testing service.

Slow. From coming across the service to getting your results — from start to finish takes over a month. Five or more weeks if you aren’t diligent about getting your sample in the mail quickly. By then, some of the initial excitement dies.

When to take the test. When I did Viome in 2017, my sample was from two weeks post-international travel. Should I have waited longer for my microbiome to adapt back? How would timing change if I had taken antibiotics recently? What if I was recently sick? With so much change in my routine, I had a hard time determining the ideal time to test.

Deeper cellular health recommendations. You get scores and sub-scores, along with general information about how to optimize each. But these give general recommendations, most of which are supplements. I’d like to see more information, data, and lifestyle options.

Grocery printout. Back in 2017, I couldn’t find a great way to export the foods and where they sit on each tier. I had created a tool to export everything as a CSV. But it was clunky and old. I assumed they’d have something more advanced today, but not that I saw.

Biological age information. Since they don’t share details of their algorithm, we don’t know the components that go into biological age. I don’t know whether I can trust their calculation.

Validated By Ayurveda

I studied the ancient Ayurvedic (Indian) medical system several years ago. I use it daily since it suggests many powerful preventive health routines and prescriptions. This system is all about personalization.

One of the first personalizations is categorizing your physical and mental constitution (called the “Dosha”). I’m a definite “Pitta”, defined by passion and fire.

As a result, Ayurveda recommends I avoid:

  • Nightshades (tomatos, red pepper, eggplant, etc)
  • Hot spices (cayenne, chili)

Which aligns 100 percent with my Viome results.

I have mild food intolerances to these, and they make me feel off after eating. Plus, I notice characteristic intolerance symptoms like increased mucus production, lower energy, and brain fog.

I suspected another major issue…

Gut Dysbiosis

For much of my childhood, I took an annual course or two of antibiotics. Research shows, unfortunately, that antibiotics disproportionately kill the beneficial microbes and proliferate the harmful. And the disruption is extremely long-lasting.

From reading Dr. William Davis’s book Super Gut, I learned that 90% of Americans suffer from microbial overgrowth (SIBO and SIFO). I matched a few of my own post-meal symptoms with what he defines as surefure signs of gut dysbiosis.

So I recently began an anti-SIBO protocol with the goal of shifting the composition of my gut microbiome back towards optimal.

I interviewed Brian Maurer, the Co-Founder of the oral microbiome analytics company Bristle Health. I got a kit to test, and one of my results indicated the presence of gut dysbiosis.

That’s right, both Bristle and Viome indicated that I have SIBO.

Viome Frequently Asked Questions

How much does Viome cost?

Through the Viome website, the Gut Intelligence test costs $199 and the Health Intelligence test kit costs $199. You can save 10% on either test using the Viome code URBAN. You can also buy the Gut Intelligence kit on Amazon, but it never goes on sale. Unfortunately, Viome does not accept HSA or FSA insurance.

What does Viome test for?

Viome’s gut microbiome test detects bacteria, mold, fungi, yeast, archaea, eukaryotes, parasites, and other microbes present in your stool. The Health Intelligence also measures cellular health, mitochondria, and biological age.

How long does it take Viome to analyze results?

From start to finish, you can expect to receive your Viome results within 4-5 weeks after placing your order. Once their lab receives your samples, they take 2-3 weeks to analyze.

Is Viome FDA-approved?

Viome’s health testing kits are not FDA-approved. Viome, however, received FDA approval for its technology (AI algorithms, mRNA sequencing, and saliva tool) used to detect oral cancers.

Viome Review: Actionable Insight Into Your Gut & Health

Viome Health Intelligence Custom Superfoods List

Is broccoli making you sicker?

You might come across new scientific articles about the incredible nutrient density of a “superfood” that you loathe. Reluctantly, you add it to your shopping list and vow to choke it down.

But your body has an innate intelligence. Forcing yourself to consume healthfoods not compatible with your body results in:

  • Higher blood sugar
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Nutrient imbalance by overloading certain bodily systems and pathways and neglecting others
  • Eventual food intolerances

Precise nutrition and custom biomarker analytics are changing the modern approach to health. Helping the savvy enthusiast stave off disease and tap into higher performance.

I recommend people start by getting a deep snapshot into their unique physiology using a powerful genetic analysis platform like SelfDecode.

This helps determine if our current lifestyle and diet are compatible with our fundamental biology.

But here’s the thing…

Humans are more micro-organism than human. For every human cell in the body, you have 10 microbial cells.

Therefore, we need a way to understand and quantify these microbes. Teamwork, rather than opposition, yield infinitely better results.

One of the only tools capable of this task is Viome’s Gut Intelligence plan. And if you want even more insight into the status of your body, and the necessary steps towards optimization, you can upgrade (as I did) to Viome’s Health Intelligence. Use the code URBAN to save an additional 10%.

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Though it’s improved dramatically since I first tested Viome in 2017, the service isn’t perfect. It has its share of inconveniences and frustrating quirks.

I still don’t advocate blindly following algorithms and ignoring your body’s subtle cues. But a tool like Viome can help illuminate blindspots into our current state of health, and what previously unknowns are still holding us back.

Nick Urban

Nick Urban is the Founder of Outliyr, an expert biohacker of 10+ years, Data Scientist, Certified CHEK Practitioner, host of the Mind Body Peak Performance Podcast, and a High-Performance Coach.

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