There's a lot of buzz about the Viome gut sequencing test lately. It gives a thorough view of the active microbes in the gut, including bacteria, archaea, fungi/yeast, viruses and parasites. The test reads the metabolome - the metabolites (ie: short-chain fatty acids, etc.) all of these sassy bugs are producing and how they may be affecting your health. The test then makes food and supplement recommendations based on these findings. This is where I still remain skeptical. I'm not 100% convinced that the science behind the food has come far enough along to be useful for everyone although I have heard from folks who followed their food recommendations and had remarkable results (improvements in health conditions, weight loss, etc.). Viome is not the test I use to see what's going on in a client's microbiome; I consider Viome to be a test for someone who wants to look at the microbiome on their own.
For those who have been itching to try the test, here's a discount code for you:
What sort of custom, precision dietary recommendation does Viome make? Read what Viome says:
1. “Healthy” Food Isn’t Always Healthy
You might have been advised to eat more green leafy vegetables and nuts for a lot of different reasons. Among other things, greens and nuts are anti-inflammatory. The Viome data show this isn’t always true.
Spinach, bran, rhubarb, beets, nuts and nut butters all contain oxalate. We now know that oxalate-containing food can be harmful, unless you have the right microbes present that can metabolize it into a non-harmful substance.
30% of Viome customers lack the microbes to metabolize oxalates properly. In other words, “healthy foods” like spinach and nuts are actually not healthy for these people.Looks like nutrition needs to be personalized.
2. Berries Aren’t Always Good for Everyone
Like oxalates, polyphenol and flavonoid-rich foods are usually considered very healthy, but unless you have the appropriate microbes that can metabolize specific polyphenols in some foods, you may not get the full benefit.
One key polyphenol in many foods is ellagic acid. Viome can detect whether your microbiome is metabolizing ellagic acid and converting it into urolithin A. Only the urolithin A has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Without the microbes to do this conversion, you will not gain much benefit from the ellagic acid in foods.
Nuts, walnuts, raspberries, pomegranate, blackberries, pecans and cranberries all contain ellagic acid.
After analyzing tens of thousands of people, Viome reports that only about 50% of them benefit from eating more foods containing ellagic acid.
3. Are You Eating Too Much Protein?
When you think high-protein diet… you might think about Paleo, Keto and various weight loss diets.
While protein helps build muscle and provide energy, but if you eat too much, it can cause inflammation and decrease longevity.
Viome analyzes the activity of your microbiome to determine whether you are eating too much protein that feeds protein-fermenting bacteria like Alistipes putredinis and Tanneralla forsythia, and if these organisms are producing harmful substances such as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, p-cresol, or putrescine. These substances can damage your gut lining and lead to conditions like leaky gut. They also produce foul smelling flatulence and body odor.
4. Can “Healthy Foods” Cause Heart Disease?
Choline in certain foods can get converted by bacteria into trimethylamine (TMA), which is associated with heart disease when it gets absorbed into your body and converted to TMAO.
However, TMA conversion doesn’t happen in individuals unless they have specific bacteria in their microbiome.
Viome can see the TMA production pathways, and many of the gammaproteobacteria that do this conversion.
What foods contain choline? Liver, salmon, chickpeas, split peas, eggs, navy beans, peanuts are a small sample.
Before you decide to go full-on pescatarian or paleo, you may want to check if your microbiome is producing TMA with that salmon or steak.
5. Too Much Iron Can Cause Inflammation
Minerals like iron in your food can, in certain inflammatory microbial environments, promote growth of pathogens like Esherichia, Shigella, and Salmonella. Maybe it wasn’t just that raw chicken that gave you food poisoning, but your toxic microbiome that made you sick.
On the other hand, when you don’t have enough iron, you could become anemic, leading to weakness and shortness of breath.
When thinking about how much iron is right for you, look at the data.
6. Stress and Anxiety Appear in Your Microbiome
Our gut and brain are connected via the vagus nerve. A large majority of neurotransmitters are either produced or consumed by our microbiome. Surprisingly, 90% of all serotonin (a feel-good neurotransmitter) is produced by your gut microbiome, not by your brain.
When you have a toxic microbiome that’s producing a large amount of toxins like hydrogen sulfide, the lining of your gut gets inflamed and irritated leading to what’s known as leaky gut.
One of the key functions of the gut lining is to act as a barrier to the absorption of toxins and undesirable compounds. When the barrier of the gut breaks down, it starts a chain reaction, and the leaky gut is linked to low immune function, brain fog, chronic inflammation, depression and higher levels of anxiety, many skin disorders, and a long list of other health issues and diseases.
To get the most out of your life it is critical to have a healthy intestinal lining and microbiome.
7. Your Microbiome Affects Your Metabolism
If you want to have more energy and want a healthy metabolism, get your microbiome back into balance.
Your microbiome is responsible for regulating many aspects of metabolism including insulin action. Some of the real pioneering work has focused on the link between imbalances in the the microbiome and metabolic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. A healthy microbiome helps stoke the metabolism and burning of calories as well as regulate appetite. A high-performing microbiome may prove to be the best route to a thinner waistline or getting your blood sugar under control.
8. Got Joint Pain? Your Microbiome Can Tell You Why
Certain gut microbes produce molecules known as endotoxins. If your microbiome has too much of these microbes or if they are too active, it can wreak havoc on your immune system and put it into overdrive. When your immune system goes on the warpath, your joints and other body parts often suffer collateral damage. It can also lead to autoimmune disorders.
Consider your microbiome as the top general of your immune army. It puts your immune system through basic training and determines when it goes to war.
Ideally, your immune system wins the quick battle and gets some rest, but if your microbiome keeps it on constant high alert, the long, drawn-out war can result in chronic inflammation and chronic diseases.
Are you really getting older, or is your microbiome just making you feel older because it keeps giving warnings to your immune system, ultimately leading to chronic pain?
If you have any condition ending in “-itis,” it’s possible that when you balance your microbiome, the inflammation from your “-itis” will be reduced.
9. The Link Between Low Stomach Acid and Chronic Disease
The acid in your stomach protects you from the bacteria in your mouth and the parasites and fungi in your food. When you have low stomach acid, it leads to improper digestion and the invasion of microbes into your small intestine. Low stomach acid is associated with, and a risk factor for, autoimmune disease and inflammation in the gut.
We’re beginning to learn that low stomach acid is perhaps one of the major causes of chronic disease. It is estimated that 40% of people over the age of 50 are low in stomach acid.
What kinds of things cause low stomach acid? Stress, nutrient deficiencies, and antacids like Nexium, Zantac and Prilosec.
10. Carbs Can Be Protein Precursors and Actually Improve Blood Sugar Control
As long as your microbiome is up to the task, carbs aren’t as bad as you might think.
The key is whether your microbiome can transform the starches you eat into amino acids.
Our microbiome can produce up to 20% of our daily need for Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s), and it will even more if the need arises.
Essentially, your microbiome is hooking up carbons and hydrogens into different forms of BCAA’s, depending on what you feed it. The microbiome is excellent at adapting and pivoting based on your diet and environment.
Get Data on Your Microbiome Health
Given the research emerging daily about the microbiome and its importance on your quality of life, prioritizing the health of your microbiome is essential. When you have a healthy microbiome, you’ll have a healthier life.
Viome is the only company with the technology to help you identify what your microbiome is actually doing. The combination of Viome’s metatranscriptomic technology and cutting-edge artificial intelligence enables you to manage your microbiome health.
Enjoy your dive into the fascinating world of the gut microbiome!