What Is Viome? How Gut Metatranscriptome & Microbiome Analysis Can Change Your Health.

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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:

-Obesity, metabolic syndrome and gastrointestinal disease are all influenced by our gut microbiome.

-Our microbiome controls our immune system more than we realize.

-What we eat alters our microbiome faster than expected.

-Our microbiome is associated with both type II diabetes and the complications that come with it.

-Our gut microbiome has been shown to influence depression, cognition, behavior, and neural development.

-Gut microbiota have been linked to Parkinson’s disease and its motor symptoms.

-Certain bacteria have been linked to atherosclerosis, an all-too-common heart condition.

-Microbes are involved in the development of Alzheimer’s pathology.

-Shifts in the makeup of our gut microbiome are associated with colorectal cancer.

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 experience over the past several years of racing and “beating up my body”.


Summary

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. If prompted, use code 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.

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54 thoughts on “What Is Viome? How Gut Metatranscriptome & Microbiome Analysis Can Change Your Health.

  1. Todd says:

    Ben I’ve done the Viome test and my results were similar to yours. The past 3 years I’ve done low carb / high fat. Lots of butter and full fat dairy. However my Viome recommendations tell me to absolutely avoid all dairy including butter, heavy cream, even Ghee. I wonder if they take into account the lack of casein in Ghee and just put a large blanked on “dairy”. I’ve also tended to avoid grains, but this one puts Quinoa as a superfood for me. Also Flax oil was a superfood for me. Also goes against what I’ve been doing. Flax oil is high in Omega-6 isn’t it?

    Who knows, Viome may be on to something and I’m going to go strict and try their recommendations. This means no more butter coffee or any of the things I love which typically make me feel great. I’m going to give it a try. If it works then it blows up everything most of us have been doing. Ben, you might have to go back and rewrite everything on your site if so.

    I’d like to see someone who has done this testing with dairy/butter in the “indulge” category. I’m also willing to put up a youtube video of my results if anyone thinks it would help.

  2. Gailef says:

    So it’s true. A sucker is born every minute. These promos are full of bells and whistles and unethical business practices. Any business that resigns the customer to another year as a matter of convenience is only looking out for their own wallet. Convenience indeed.

    1. Gabby from Viome says:

      Hi Gailef, we’re sorry to hear you feel that way about Viome. We’d love to answer any specific questions you may have about our service. If you do have questions, please reach out to us at info@viome.com!

  3. Kim says:

    In podcast it was stated that viome was way better than existing gut tests. But then in response to a “best” test question you recommended a one two with this and Geneva’s 3 day, which I have done in the past and was considering trying this instead. Seems like the AI learning model could be the way to go eventually, but is the data there yet or are all the early adopters Just financing the database? So far I haven’t purchased due to this concern and so far what seems to be a lack of specified data. Still planning on doing one if the two ASAP but if I can’t get more specific viome info I think it’s smartest ti stick with Geneva for the moment?! any additional comments or info appreciated.

    1. Corrie says:

      I’m confused about this too. The more I think about it, the more I think that Naveen was describing his model of how he would *like healthcare to function in the near future* and not describing how it’s working now, even with his Viome testing. I believe the premise is that Viome is going to create a database to statistically compare the flora of “healthy” people (this is somewhat subjective and unpredictable anyways) with that of unhealthy people, and then link specific illnesses to specific microorganisms and flora, which would then be targeted to create a healthy flora. To do this, Viome needs millions of test subjects to compile the data, so the comparisons cannot yet be complete. Additionally, the question remains, how to encourage the growth of healthy flora and discourage the growth of unhealthy organisms, and how to keep all of this in balance. I’m guessing there will be a lot more to this than eating asparagus. Does Viome truly have all of these answers NOW?

    2. Gabby from Viome says:

      Hi Kim, thanks for your comment! As Ben mentioned, Viome’s Gut Intelligence test uses metatranscriptome technology to sequence all of the RNA molecules of the organisms in your gut, down to the strain level (and including viruses, bacteria, yeast, fungi, bacteriophages, parasites, and more). Not only can our test see the composition of these organisms, we can also look at their function.

      Genova (as well as many other microbiome sequencing services) offers 16S microbiome sequencing. Recent scientific publications have suggested that 16S sequencing results are hard to reproduce, and quite variable between different lab facilities. In addition, 16S can only identify bacteria, and only down to the genus level, so it provides poor resolution compared to Viome’s testing.

      If you have any other questions about Viome, feel free to email us at info@viome.com!

  4. Joe says:

    Looks like Ben sold out for the affiliate commission.

    The owner of the company is a multi company scammer– google his history. See

    The recommendations aren’t some fancy AI diet… it’s crap info from 15-20 years ago that guys like Ben don’t and would never follow anyway.

    Do some research and you’ll see that this testing (and so far most/all gut testing) just isn’t at a place to offer much, if any benefits and insights to the majority.

    1. I heard this kind of thing too, until I actually *tested* and did work with the company, including hanging out with Naveen…and it turns out they really are the real deal. I've gotten a ton of benefit from it thus far.

    2. Patricia says:

      Thanks for this . Sometimes we are so desperate for help and guidance. As a mother of a child who got through two years tough medical treatment for brain cancer I am searching everywhere how I might now best support his compromised health. Any guidance much appreciated. Thanks again.. I’ve more than had my share of false leads and fake promises. Hard to separate the conflict of interest from sincere help.

  5. Corrie says:

    Wow, this is really cutting edge information. It appears that what Viome is doing is using computer science (AI), to analyze the data of the microbiomes of many thousands of humans, in order to aggregate that information and compare the biomes of healthy vs. unhealthy individuals. As they refine the process we might be able to move from a state of specific illness to a state of relative health by attempting to reproduce the biome of “healthy” people. However, since our understanding of what all these microorganisms are doing, how they are doing it, and what their relationships are to each other, is really in its infancy, it seems probable that we will not necessarily get it truly right for a while yet. But what an interesting approach! And there is nothing to lose and everything to gain by having access to this information.

    As for the specific therapeutic recommendations from Viome, they appear to be combining data about what foods will promote or discourage individual microorganisms with very general “conventional wisdom” recommendations such as ‘white sugar is toxic to everyone.’ Realistically, they cannot possibly at this point in time have a comprehensive understanding of all the different microorganisms of the micro biome, their life cycles, and relationships to each other and to human health, and how to bring about overall healthy gut symbiosis. But maybe that information is not entirely necessary to move towards health simply by monitoring and attempting to adjust the overall picture. I love the outside-the-box thinking here.

    If anyone has not listened to Ben’s interview with Zach Bush, you will really want to do that. I think he is on to something with the Restore soil product. By fixing the lining of the gut, we may be able to encourage a healthy microbiome to develop, and that might be an important piece of this puzzle.

    Thanks again Ben for another amazing podcast!

    1. Gabby from Viome says:

      Hi Corrie, thanks for your comment! You are correct that Viome uses artificial intelligence to create personalized nutritional recommendations for each of our customers, and that our AI is learning new information all the time. If you have any other questions about our service, please email us at info@viome.com!

  6. Jackie says:

    Fantastic podcast, and the video of your results was interesting as well. A couple of things I wonder about include 1) whether this will someday be a method for diagnosing things such as cancer, as it seems like they are on that road technologically already, 2) how they could come up with a list of foods that are, as she said, “bad for everyone” (at the end of the results video)? If, truly, one man’s food is another man’s poison, then why are some foods automatically categorized as “bad for everyone?” Seems contradictory. 3) It would be a fascinating strand of study for this company to look at how people who grow up in one area of the world (e.g. Minnesota in the United States) with the diet and climate, and then move to another place (Japan – subtropical), and how the microbiome transforms and adapts, if it even can, over time. Thanks for a really thought-provoking podcast. (International customers are only allowed to be put on an email list – they aren’t able to take the tests…. yet.)

    1. These are all great questions. Remember, some foods, such as, say "commercial, refined wheat" really are pretty bad for everyone. Glad you enjoyed the show!

      1. With all due respect, they are saying that butter is categorically bad for everyone, without any type of qualification. It is explicit, and there are no qualifiers. Is there some context in the video that we are not seeing? Could you get us some insight on that?

        Thanks!

        1. Where was it said that butter is categorically bad for everyone?

          1. Just after the twenty minute mark in the video, we see the list of “Foods to Avoid” in alphabetical order, and butter happens to be listed between a group of truely unhealthy foods (brown sugar, cake, candy). This is perhaps an unfortunate coincidence, but general and specific recommendations are not differenciated in that list.

            There is a clarification by the narrator, but this still leaves a lot of room for confusion. As the narrator says explicitly “And then the foods to avoid, this list of foods to avoid contains things such as sugar, candy, and white bread that are harmful to everyone, as well as specific foods that you should avoid. But some of those foods may be OK for others. In your case, it seems that dairy products are on that list, and that other people could be fine with dairy products.” Those are her words as we are looking at the list with butter and candy on it. Normal users will not have a narrated result of course, so it looks like a categorical rejection of butter in the app.

            And then there is still the question of what kind of butter – is it the A1/A2 beta-casien issue? The denatured proteins and fats from pasteurization and/or homogenization? The agrochemicals? Would you avoid raw grass-fed organic butter?

            Thanks again for looking into this!

        2. Gabby from Viome says:

          Hi Victor, thanks for your comment! We definitely don’t think that butter is unhealthy for everyone. In Ben’s specific recommendations, it was unfortunately placed beside candy and other foods that are considered “Avoid” foods for everyone. We recognize that this may be confusing, and will be updating our iOS app to make this categorization more clear.

          If you have any other questions, please feel free to email us at info@viome.com!

          1. Very glad to hear that! Thank you for your response. Lots of luck with your continued efforts on the app, testing, etc. It is an ambitious effort, and I’m sure it cannot be easy.

  7. Ben, do you actually agree with their recommendations to ‘indulge’ in flaxseed oil and avoid butter?! Both of those recommendations are in serious conflict with your guidance, as well as the guidance of the Weston A. Price Foundation and many others. I found many things in the test that concerned me. Still amazing to have that data and app, but the advice looks seriously flawed. My full concerns are on my site here: http://www.otezok.com/2017/09/17/home-testing/

    I am eager to hear your opinion about these advice conflicts. For me, the test is still invaluable, but I worry about people blindly following Viome’s advice. Doing so just effectively moves the leash from your doctor to Viome.

    1. I don't necessarily say that you should indulge in flaxseed oil or that you should avoid butter. However, if you have a need for a rapid tonic acid or some type of dairy allergy both of those could be accurate in some amounts. I will review your article soon.

      1. Thanks for your response. I can understand some rare exceptions for special individuals or short-term situations, but that was guidance for you, based on your test results, so I cannot imagine how it would fit. Perhaps I am missing some critical context, but then they also have butter on their general list of foods to avoid :-(

    2. Patricia says:

      Yes what about all the bulletproof advice about grass fed butter essential for bulletproof coffee the staple of bulletproof. Dave asprey interviewed Naveen Jain by they didn’t discuss the butter issue!

  8. Diane H says:

    Ben, the yearly package allows for 2 tests (6 months apart), but you state in your article “…my own gut testing results, which I’ll now repeat each month…” –does fhe monthly rate, which is higher, allow for this more frequent testing?

    1. As an update, Viome used to have $595 for two tests per year but based on customer feedback, they now have now gone to $399 per year for one test and any additional tests during the year are $199. So two tests per year are still less than $599 and you can do 4 tests per year for under $999. You can click here to get moved to the front of the waitlist right away with code "FITNESS".

  9. Diane H says:

    Ben, the yearly package allows for 2 tests (6 months apart), but you state in your article “…my own gut testing results, which I’ll now repeat each month…” –does fhe monthly rate, which is higher, allow for this more frequent testing?

  10. cindiSue says:

    I had another page up from yesterday with a lot of comments which are now missing. You said you replenished gut bacteria after getting the report. Can you say in more detail how you have replenished those? Most species are not available to purchase. So are you replenishing through what you eat?

    Also did the discount that was available with the code disappear?

  11. Cindi says:

    This is appealing because I did the clinical uBiome and it came with really no recommendations. They don’t even give you absolute numbers so you can compare to a later test.

    But the big problem with these reports is that it is almost impossible to buy the probiotics that you need. Most probiotics are combinations of many types, and don’t even list how much of a given type you are getting. I am low on bifido, and finally found a product with only bifido’s. But I still don’t know how much of each subtype I am getting. There are certain probiotics that are shown in the literature to significantly reduce diverticulitis, which keep having suddenly, but those strains are not available for purchase. So we really are still in the infancy on these things and I wonder how useful even a Viome report really is. But since it is more comprehensive, it’s a step in the right direction.

    1. Ella says:

      Agreed completely. What is your best source of probiotics?

  12. Cindi says:

    This is appealing because I did the clinical uBiome and it came with really no recommendations. They don’t even give you absolute numbers so you can compare to a later test.

    But the big problem with these reports is that it is almost impossible to buy the probiotics that you need. Most probiotics are combinations of many types, and don’t even list how much of a given type you are getting. I am low on bifido, and finally found a product with only bifido’s. But I still don’t know how much of each subtype I am getting. There are certain probiotics that are shown in the literature to significantly reduce diverticulitis, which keep having suddenly, but those strains are not available for purchase. So we really are still in the infancy on these things and I wonder how useful even a Viome report really is. But since it is more comprehensive, it’s a step in the right direction.

  13. Cindi says:

    This is appealing because I did the clinical uBiome and it came with really no recommendations. They don’t even give you absolute numbers so you can compare to a later test.

    But the big problem with these reports is that it is almost impossible to buy the probiotics that you need. Most probiotics are combinations of many types, and don’t even list how much of a given type you are getting. I am low on bifido, and finally found a product with only bifido’s. But I still don’t know how much of each subtype I am getting. There are certain probiotics that are shown in the literature to significantly reduce diverticulitis, which keep having suddenly, but those strains are not available for purchase. So we really are still in the infancy on these things and I wonder how useful even a Viome report really is. But since it is more comprehensive, it’s a step in the right direction.

  14. Grant Spedding says:

    Hey Ben. Are the recommendations weighted to the diet that is being followed at the time and will this change the approach to be followed with time? e.g. if a LCHF diet is being followed when testing occurs and this is changed to a more SAD, What would that mean for the recommendations and assessment? What timeframes would be relevant to this?

  15. Sarah says:

    Interesting. So the end result is trying to mediate, eradicate the bad things they discover by using/ avoiding certain foods? No references to specific strains of probiotics for you to take? If I do something like this it would be because I want to fix it myself and avoid more costly doctor bills for a functional med doc.

  16. Patrizia Giammaria says:

    Was there information about your diet/health that you didn’t already know? What was the most surprising thing about your test that your learned? Did solve your bowel issues?

    1. The Most amazing thing was getting to see the enormous diversity of bacteria in my gut and exactly the ones I was deficient versus not deficient in. And yes, I have begun to replenish some of those and it has helped tremendously.

      1. Cindi says:

        How did you begin to replenish some of those? I didn’t see much in the video results involving anything you can buy to replenish. Are you replenishing by diet?

  17. Gina says:

    Is this service offered around the world, I live in Australia?

    1. Contact Viome, let them know i sent you, and hopefully they can hook you up.

  18. Kelly Bento says:

    So in your opinion according to what is available today, what is the BEST test for the gut? All things considered including cost. I have had the Genova GI effects and need to retest but want the most comprehensive.

    Also started taking Restore, your thoughts on how it might affect testing and improving overall health.

    1. It would be a one-two combo: Viome followed and this 3 day gut panel: https://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/product/comp…

      1. Cindi says:

        What information do you get out of the 3 day gut panel?

  19. James Fryer says:

    It didn’t have a place to put the code “fitness” in at. I’d prefer not to go to the end of the line :)

    1. Trinity Reznor says:

      Hey James, when I hit join the wait list it asked for name, email and the code. I put it in there.

    2. Trinity Reznor says:

      Hey James, when I hit join the wait list it asked for name, email and the code. I put it in there.

  20. Kan says:

    Hi Ben,

    I moved to a cyclical ketogenic diet a few months ago and it is working for me. I live in a dorm and will not be able to get all the foods they may recommend on this service. Given that they do not test for food sensitivities, what benefit can I get from this service?

    Thanks,

    Kanishka

    1. A ton. You know which bacteria to replace, which issues you may be predisposed to , and 24-7 access to all updates, etc. they make when they add new gut testing features. Well worth it.

    2. George says:

      Ben, you replied that this person could find out which bacteria to replace. If everyone’s gut biome is unique to them personally, how does Viome know what is the right ratio of one bacteria to another in a given individual? It would be interesting to see the diversity/range of bacteria within the “healthy” population they used to set their standard.

      Can you tell me what is the cost of this test? It’s not prominently displayed on their website and I’m afraid there’s a reason for that.

      1. Cindi says:

        It’s there. Regular price is $599/year (2 tests, 1 every 6 months)

      2. Cindi says:

        It’s there. Regular price is $599/year (2 tests, 1 every 6 months)

  21. marianne lent says:

    tell e more ? what is your discount available?

    1. Use the link in the article above and the code to get off the waitlist!

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