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Product of the Week: Can a Viome Test Revolutionize Your Gut Health?
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Product of the Week: Can a Viome Test Revolutionize Your Gut Health?

With Viome’s Full Body Intelligence test, users get a comprehensive report on their gut microbiome along with food and supplement recommendations to improve gut health

Viome offers an at-home RNA gut and health test that measures users’ microbial, human, and mitochondrial gene expressions to offer personalized food and supplement recommendations.

The company was launched in 2016 by Naveen Jain, who wanted to empower patients to take control of their own health. Viome raised over $175 million in the company’s first two years, receiving support from investors like Khosla Ventures and Bold Capital.

To use Viome’s Full Body Intelligence test, users take at-home samples of blood, saliva, and stool and send them to the company’s lab for testing. Members receive their results, along with food and supplement recommendations.

Athletech News tested Viome’s Full Body Intelligence test to learn more about gut health.  

Pros

The Full Body Intelligence test measures, down to a strain level, how active any bacteria, archaea, and viruses are in a user’s gut, and uses that to inform the results. Viome uses RNA sequencing technology licensed from Los Alamos National Lab and originally developed for biodefense.

“Measuring RNA offers a way to tell what is actively happening inside and the different levels of activities of various molecular pathways that make up health-related functions,” Grant Antoine, Viome’s Translational Science Clinical Expert, told Athletech News. “This is important for someone wanting to see which way their health is trending and how to suppress harmful activity and boost beneficial activity to lower inflammation and support a balanced microbiome, which is key to longevity.”

The service provides users with a “Biological Age,” which determines how their gut microbiome, oral microbiome, and cells compare to others. I appreciated the one-glance insight into gut health, followed by the ability to click into the factors that informed the score. 

Viome’s app was well-designed, displaying “Good,” “Average,” and “Not Optimal” Scores for each metric. It also includes videos and articles providing extra information about the recommendations for those who want to dive into the scores. 

credit: Viome

The feature I found most interesting was “Your Foods.” Based on my results, Viome provided a list of foods that it labeled as “Enjoy,” “Avoid,” “Minimize,” and “Superfood.”

Many of the foods listed under “Avoid” were already foods that I did not eat often, but there were some that I frequently consumed. When I clicked into the rationale some foods, like bell peppers, had unexpected answers. Viome recommended avoiding bell pepper due to a specific strain found in my microbiome, while other results (like lime and sprouted wheat bread) had more general recommendations based on my “Heart and Metabolic Health.”

For each “Superfood,” Viome provided a link to a medical study, which was useful upon diving into my results.  

Viome also offers supplements customized based on a user’s results. While I did not try the service, the app showed exactly what would have been in my formula, and the rationale for including each vitamin, mineral, or extract. Those looking for a convenient solution to gut issues through supplements would likely find this service useful. 

Cons

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Moreso than many at-home tests, Viome is effort-intensive. Some might appreciate the convenience of not needing to go to a nearby pharmacy or bloodwork center. Others might get squeamish at some of the steps. I found myself somewhere in between—for me, the most uncomfortable part was squeezing out enough blood for the vials during the finger prick. 

Because gut health is more of a recent health phenomenon, I found assessing how to pair Viome’s recommendations with more traditional health metrics (like weight, blood pressure, DNA and biomarkers) difficult. For example, one of my “Enjoy” foods was butter, which most medical professionals would likely advise against. The test is focused on improving gut health, perhaps not what might be best for overall health. 

As someone who appreciates data, I was hoping for individual measurements of various organisms found in my system. Instead, the scores are more holistic: Viome provides users a score and a key that shows if the score is “Not Optimal,” “Average,” or “Good,” and the percentage of Viome users in each category.

Also, some of the foods listed seemed fairly obscure. For example, “Buffalo” was listed, as was “Goat,” “Kamut,” and “Breadfruit.” While the list was certainly comprehensive, and filled with many foods that are commonly seen in grocery stores, featuring foods commonly found in the grocery store (or at least having some feature where one could input their common meals/foods) would have pared down the long list.  

Final Thoughts

Overall, Viome is a comprehensive gut health service best suited to those who want to dive deeper into a new way to understand wellness or those looking to improve existing gut issues. 

Read more ATN Product Reviews here.

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