More and more research points to the importance of the gut microbiome on many areas of health. In my quest for improving my fitness, I was hitting plateaus that I suspected could have been related to a least than ideal gut microbiome. I didn’t want to blindly start trying to ‘improve’ something that I wasn’t completely convinced was lacking, so I started looking for ways to confirm my suspicions. That’s when I came across Viome. Read on for my Viome Review.
What is Viome?
Viome is an AI-powered health insight platform that bases it’s recommendations on analyzing your gut health. They offer several different tests that you can choose from with corresponding levels of detailed insights. Like many of these platforms, they offer a personalized supplement regime based on your results.
Viome offers three tests in order of increasing cost and number of health scores analyzed:
Gut Intelligence™ Test – Stool only test
Health Intelligence™ Test – Stool and blood test
Full Body Intelligence™ Test – Stool, blood and saliva test
How it Works
The samples for all of the tests can be collected at home… no lab visit required! The instructions for doing so are detailed and presented in a way that makes it easy for anyone to accomplish. Everything for collecting the samples is included in your kit. Once you receive it, you need to register it via the mobile app or the website. You can then collect your samples and send them back to Viome with the included prepaid package. Your results will then appear in the app within 2 – 3 weeks. While waiting for your results, you’ll need to complete a series of questionnaires which are used to inform your results.
Unlike many of these platforms, both the mobile app and website contain the full suite of tools and is also laid out in the same fashion. The main sections include: Home, Nutrition, Scores, Shop and More.
The ‘Home’ section is basically a dashboard that contains bits of information from all of the other sections. You’ll get a daily ‘superfood’ recommendation and can see the details of your personalized supplement formula. This section also contains your overall health profile which highlights the number of scores that ‘need improvement’. You will also see a listing of your ‘Avoid foods’ and ‘Superfoods’. Finally, there are links to relevant webinars and blog posts.
This section is subdivided into two: Your Foods and Your Supplements. Foods are personalized to your results and labeled Superfood, Enjoy, Minimize and Avoid. Clicking on individual superfoods and Avoid foods will show information about why you should include/exclude them, along with links to relevant published research. The list of Supplements are based on the personalized supplement that Viome recommends for you. Each supplement is displayed with the amounts to be taken per day. Clicking on each one provides some background information on what the supplement does, identifies the ‘Scores’ that the supplement should positively impact and provides links to published studies on the supplement.
Scores shows your Health, Functional and Pathway Activities scores. Health scores are for very broad things like Oral Health or Gut Health. Functional scores represent things like Breath Odor and Metabolic Fitness. Pathway Activity scores are for biochemical reactions that produce beneficial or harmful molecules. Each of the scores is a numerical number with a range that represents Not Optimal, Average or Good scores. Clicking on a score provides a brief overview of what the score represents, provides links to any relevant published studies and allows you to ‘Share’ the results via email. Many of the scores also show the relevant percentage of Viome users who share scores in that range. You can read much more about Viome Scores here.
Self explanatory… from this section, you can purchase your personalized supplement formula and additional tests. Like many of these services, one test isn’t usually enough. You’ll want to repeat the test after making changes to your nutrition to see if you’re improving your non-optimal scores.
This section contains your settings, questionnaire results and the ability to download your results. There are also links to blog posts and videos that you can reference for collecting samples and interpreting your results.
I opted to go for the Full Body Intelligence™ Test. This is Viome’s most comprehensive and consists of more than 50 Health Scores based on a Stool, blood and saliva sample. Collecting all the samples was very straightforward and not as horrifying as it might sound at first glance. I
It took closer to 3 weeks until I got my results, but it gave me plenty of time to complete all of the questionnaires. I was definitely surprised by many of my results. The most notable surprises for me included:
- Significantly differing biological age score compared to those that I’ve observed from other services.
- A large number of my ‘Avoid’ foods were categorized as such in order to improve scores that I’m not convinced that I really have an issue with based on other testing and asking unbiased third parties. Many of these foods just happen to be things that I eat often and LOVE.
- Confirmation on many of the supplements that I was already taking based on other testing results.
- Confirmation on some of the issues that I expected to have which led me to use the Viome test in the first place.
It’s clear that the whole platform and results are very much tailored to encourage you to purchase the personalize supplement stack. I’m not a fan of the ‘shotgun’ approach to supplementation, so I’m not really the target market for this type of product. Looking at the details however, leads me to believe that the approach to personalization used by Viome seems to be better than many of the other services that I’ve used that do this.
Areas for Improvement
For the most part, Viome did provide a lot of valuable information and was a good starting point for investigating ways of mitigating some of the issues that led to me discovering this platform in the first place. There were a few things that I did not like:
A few of my scores did not have a numeric value. It just said that I was in the ‘Not Optimal’ range. I’m a numbers guy, so if I’m going to invest the effort into taking multiple tests and work on ‘improving’, I need to be able to see that number improve from test to test.
The foods labeled ‘Minimize’ and ‘Enjoy’ did not have any rationale for doing so. I’m ok with this for those in the ‘Enjoy’ category, but I’d like to know more about why I should minimize others. Is it because of one of the scores that I legitimately feel is in a not optimal range? or is it because of one of the ones that I disagree with Viome’s analysis?
For the foods/supplements that have rationale behind them, it was great to see why they were recommended and what scores that are meant to impact. What would be even more valuable for me, is the ability to navigate from the scores that I want to optimize and see all of the recommendations for doing so.
Almost everyone that I’ve spoken to that’s done this test has seen something that I’ve noticed. Many of the foods that they eat most frequently and enjoy show up in their minimize/avoid lists. Often there isn’t a rationale tied to an obvious non-optimal score for why this is so. This may indicate some bias based on how these foods impact your microbiome. I’m interested in seeing how these recommendations evolve with subsequent tests while experimenting with removing or continuing to use these foods.
Overall, I’m glad that I used Viome and I look forward to seeing it evolve in the future. Compared to other similar services I’ve used, Viome is much more nutrition and supplement focused. Using Viome for identifying non-optimal scores and nutritional solutions for addressing them was great. It’s important though to use this as a starting point for your own research. There are many lifestyle choices that can also be used to address many of these scores. Focusing on a holistic approach to improving these is probably best long term. Have you used Viome? If so, I’d like to hear about your experience. If you’re interested in trying Viome for yourself, use this link for a discount on your tests!