I've been getting a ton of questions lately about a new “complete” gut microbiome testing service called “Viome“, which applies artificial intelligence and machine learning to recommend personalized nutritional recommendations that balance the gut microbiome inside the body for the goal of better digestive health, longevity, skin quality, brain function, and any other physiological parameter correlated to the host of critters living in your gut.
So I finally decided to pull the trigger, get a Viome kit, pull down my pants and send the good folks at Viome my poop.
The results that I got back were pretty astounding.
So astounding, in fact, that in this article, I'm not only going to fill you in on this incredible new way to get a glimpse into just about everything going on in your gut, to know which foods you should or should not eat, to know which bacteria and probiotics you do or do not need, and much more…
…but I'm also revealing a quite intriguing video in which the chief scientists at Viome analyzes my own gut results so that you can see exactly what Viome results actually look like.
We'll jump in momentarily. But before we do, please know that there are literally thousands of people on the waitlist to get this same comprehensive Viome test done. But thanks to being a BenGreenfieldFitness.com reader, you instantly get moved to the front of the list if you visit my custom page on Viome.com/fitness.
What Is The Gut Microbiome & Why Does It Matter?
There are approximately 40 trillion microorganisms living in your gut.
They help you digest your food, produce beneficial and harmful chemicals, control infections from pathogens, regulate your immune system, and even control your emotions (ever have a “gut feeling”?).
These microorganisms – which make up your gut microbiome – have been implicated in maintaining optimal health, as well as contributing to many chronic conditions, including diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, coronary artery disease, psoriasis, lupus, and autism. By taking care of your 40 trillion microbe friends, you can maximize your wellness and potentially prevent disease.
How Viome Works
Viome was born at the prestigious Los Alamos National Lab, and originated from technology originally designed for national security. It is based on a complete sequencing of the gut microbiome based on a very small stool sample.
Here's how Viome works.
Every living organism produces RNA molecules from their DNA. By sequencing all of the RNA in your stool, Viome can identify and quantify all of the living microorganisms in your gut (bacteria, viruses, bacteriophages, archaea, fungi, yeast, parasites, and more) at the species and strain level. The end result? A higher resolution view of your gut microbiome than has ever been available before.
While identifying the microorganisms in your gut is important, you can gain the most insight into your gut when you can also understand the function of those microorganisms (this is called “gut microbiome gene expression”). This is because the microbes in your gut produce thousands of chemicals, (called metabolites) that affect your overall wellness. Some of these microbial metabolites can be beneficial to your health, such as B vitamins and short chain fatty acids, while others can be detrimental, such as Trimethylamine N-oxide, or “TMAO”, which causes coronary artery disease.
By analyzing the genes that your microbes express, Viome can identify which metabolites they produce – in other words, they can determine the role of those metabolites in your body’s ecosystem. By following Viome’s diet and lifestyle recommendations, you are then able to fine-tune the function of your gut microbiome to minimize production of harmful metabolites and maximize the production of beneficial ones.
Recent research has demonstrated the microbiome’s significant role in human health and disease, including:
In addition, every person is biochemically unique. As a result, you process macronutrients (fats, protein and carbohydrates) differently than others do. Because of this, as part of the “poop test kits” that they send you in the mail, Viome also sends you a special “nutritional challenge” shake to drink, followed by a series of measurements that you take which analyze your body’s response to determine how quickly you regain your balance and how you metabolize different macronutrients.
When they combine the results of this nutritional challenge test with your Gut Intelligence™️ poop test results, Viome can then provide your ideal macronutrient ratio and make dietary recommendations that are unique to you (as you'll see in my video results momentarily).
This then allows you to do things like:
- Increase microbial species associated with overall wellness
- Minimize microbial species associated with poor health
- Increase the diversity of your microbiome
- Stimulate production of beneficial metabolites
- Minimize production of metabolites associated with poor health
- Identify prebiotics that can induce growth of beneficial microbes and metabolites
- Identify the ideal ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and fats for your diet
- Identify foods that are most compatible with your metabolism
- Recommend a diet to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- Recommend a diet that will increase your energy, focus and well-being
- Optimize your digestion and absorption
- Introduce beneficial (but missing) bacteria with probiotics
How Viome Microbiome Sequencing Is Different
So why is this stuff from Viome so new and unique?
If you've ever had your gut or microbiome tested, you likely were tested using the old form of sequencing called “16S sequencing” (this is what organizations such as American Gut Project and uBiome utilize). While the 16s sequencing can indeed tell you a little bit about your gut bacteria, it really doesn't hold a candle to what is called “metatranscriptome sequencing”, which is the type of sequencing Viome utilizes, thanks in part to their $15 million capital infusion into their artificial intelligence technology and huge amounts of funding from their billionaire CEO Naveen Jain – innovator, philanthropist and founder of Moon Express, Intelius, TalentWise and InfoSpace.
In other words, Viome has dumped a ton of research, development and cash into this new form of testing. Here's the difference between it and the “old-school” form of microbiome sequencing:
|16S Sequencing||Viome Metatranscriptome Sequencing|
|Identifies only a fraction of your gut bacteria; unable to identify nonbacterial microorganisms||Identifies all bacteria and all other living organisms in your gut: viruses, archaea, yeast, fungi, parasites, and bacteriophages2|
|Low resolution (genus level only)||High resolution (species & strain level)|
|Does not determine microbe function||Quantifies the biochemical activities of all gut microorganisms|
|Unreliable; sequencing the same sample twice can yield very different results||Unbiased analysis, minimized variation in results|
|Unable to identify microbial metabolites, which are key for maintaining health||Identifies which metabolites are being produced and which are missing|
|Low resolution and lack of functional data preclude any actionable recommendations||Allows correlation of microbes and their functions with common chronic conditions, so actionable recommendations can be made|
What Viome Results Look Like
OK, now here's the good stuff. Below is a video from Viome with a complete walkthrough of my own gut testing results, which I'll now repeat each month to track how changing my probiotic strain intake and diet based on Viome's recommendations fixes the increasing amount of dysbiosis and gut issues I've experienced over the past several years of racing and “beating up my body”.
What do you think?
Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback about Viome, gut microbiome sequencing or my own gut testing results? Leave your comments below and I will reply!
In the meantime, there are literally thousands of people on the waitlist to get this same comprehensive Viome test done. But thanks to being a BenGreenfieldFitness.com reader, you instantly get moved to the front of the list if you visit my custom page at Viome.com/fitness.
When you sign up, you get an at-home Viome kit delivered twice a year, full access to Viome's artificial intelligence engine, and a personalized easy-to-follow plan with precise diet and nutrition recommendations delivered via an App.
Also published on Medium.