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The At-Home Test A Nurse Recommends For Optimizing Your Gut Health (+ What To Expect)

Author:

Amanda Lundberg, RN

Medical reviewer:

Amanda Lundberg, RN

January 4, 2023

Registered Nurse (RN)

By Amanda Lundberg, RN

Registered Nurse (RN)

Amanda is a registered nurse with over a decade of experience in clinical nursing and a member of the Association of Healthcare Journalists.

Medical review by

Amanda Lundberg, RN

Registered Nurse (RN)

Amanda is a registered nurse with over a decade of experience in clinical nursing and a member of the Association of Healthcare Journalists.

Image by mbg creative

January 4, 2023

Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

Gut health impacts so much more than just your digestion. How well your gut is functioning plays a large role in your mental and emotional health, too. In fact, there are few things that impact your overall well-being as much as your gut. Every day, we are faced with destructive forces hindering our gut health, but no matter how much you value your health, not many of us have the time to research every ingredient we consume. Viome takes the guesswork out of which foods are beneficial for your gut health, with easy-to-use gut microbiome tests that anyone can order and conduct from their own home.

These innovative at-home tests help determine which foods and supplements are ideal, and which are not so great, all based on our genetics. Below, find my detailed Viome at-home test review. I’ll walk you through my experience, how Viome holds up to its competitors, and share whether my results were easily digestible (pun intended).

Viome Micriobiome Test

Viome Full Body Intelligence Test

What is Viome?

Viome is a preventative health and longevity company attempting to address the epidemic of chronic diseases, cancer, and aging. Its innovative at-home tests analyze microbial and human gene expressions (mRNA). The intention is to provide comprehensive health insights, personalized food recommendations and nutritional products to promote living a longer and healthier life.

Dr. Alice Williams, a physician and health enthusiast, explains that the gut microbiome is a collection of trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. “It’s thought to play a role in everything from digestion to immune function to mental health,” she explains. “This community of organisms helps break down food, synthesize nutrients, and protect against infection. The gut microbiome also plays a role in shaping the immune system and regulating metabolism.”

As we’ve become increasingly aware of how interconnected the gut microbiome is to memory, mood, cognition1, and overall health2, there’s been a surge in at-home testing. This type of direct-to-consumer lab test allows individuals to bypass a doctor’s visit by having a sample kit mailed directly to their home. Results typically arrive through a secure email or app.

As Williams reminds us, at-home testing is not a tool for diagnosing health conditions and should not replace regular visits to your doctor. Williams recommends consulting with your healthcare provider if you are concerned about symptoms or illness, or to discuss abnormal results.

How does Viome work?

The brand’s proprietary approach combines novel mRNA research and technology to analyze epigenetic biomarkers and deliver comprehensive, A.I. (artificial intelligence)-driven health insights that have been proven to shape a healthy lifespan3. Paired with precision-nutrition recommendations, Viome offers an encompassing solution to aging optimally.

Based on the gene expression activity Viome can see in every individual, which is completely unique to them, Viome can translate these signals into Health Scores that provide the basis for the personalized recommendations, custom-made supplement formulas. The ultimate goal of Viome is to boost beneficial activity for optimal health and suppress harmful activity within the body.

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How the test arrives.

My initial thought when I received my Viome kit in the mail was that it resembled a high-end luxury package, rather than an at-home lab test. The luxe kit is extremely organized, color-coded, and labeled. My test, the Full Body Intelligence Kit, required three types of samples: Stool, Blood, and Saliva. Each sample kit was clearly labeled in the box, along with a”Start Here” booklet outlining the entire sample process. The directions are comprehensive but digestible, and broken down into how-to sections for every sample type.

Registering the kit.

Every kit must be registered via the free Viome app. Each test comes with a unique code, which allows the lab to match up your samples with your results. You’ll also need to complete an in-depth questionnaire before mailing in your samples, which we will get to in a moment.

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Collecting your sample.

Fasting is required before the blood and saliva sample, so I opted to wait until the next morning. I went ahead and collected my stool when the time was convenient for my bowels–although it is recommended to use your first full bowel movement4 of the day to ensure the most accurate results.

Stool collection.

The stool sample process is fairly straightforward: you poop onto a collection paper that you lay across the toilet. There is a spoon included in the kit, which you can use to gather a spoonful of stool and add it to the collection tube. From there, just flush the paper and remaining stool down the toilet and shake your sample to mix it with the liquid in the tube. If you are worried about the cleanliness of a stool sample and er, spillage, I can assure you it’s safely contained.

Saliva Collection.

The next morning, prior to any food or drink, I completed the saliva sample. I thought, “should be simple enough, just spit a few times into a tube, right?” Turns out, this sample type was actually the most difficult simply because of the amount of saliva needed. It took me at least 30 minutes to fill the tube to the fill line. I was not expecting it to take as long, so heed my advice: allow yourself sufficient time to complete this step.

Blood Collection.

The third sample type is blood from a finger prick. As a nurse, I’ve performed this procedure multiple times on patients, so it felt pretty natural to do. The kit only comes with 2 lancets, which, in my opinion, is not enough. I have fairly fast clotting abilities, so I used the two lancets on two different fingers and just barely finished filling the pipettes before I stopped bleeding from my fingertip. Had I clotted any earlier, I would have needed another lancet (which most people don’t have lying around the house).

The questionnaire.

Back to the questionnaire. This isn’t a quick feat, either. The brand recommends setting aside 71 minutes to complete the questions, but it took me 40 minutes. There were some very detailed and obscure questions–including my shirt collar size. Luckily, a tape measure is included for your use.

Sending in your samples.

I dropped off my prepaid, pre-labeled bag of samples at USPS that morning. Six days later, I received an email that my kit had been received. Two days following that, I got another update that my samples were being processed. Twenty days after I mailed in my kit, I received the email with my results. Viome’s website says results will be available in 2 to 3 weeks, so mine were right on schedule.

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Receiving your results.

I suggest viewing your results in the app, as the website was a bit challenging to scroll through. While there is no professional follow-up included, there was no lack of comprehensive information. The results are so exhaustive, even as a medical professional I felt overwhelmed not having any type of consultation or personalized explanation.

With my results came a personalized supplement recommendation, made with 44 ingredients to reach optimal gut health results. As someone who eats a varied and nutritious diet, I was surprised to be deficient in so many areas.

To help users make more sense of their results, my two recommendations for Viome would be:

1. Offer a consultation with someone who can review the results and include the ability to ask questions

2. Adding in an explanation of your food recommendations. Why does my superfood list include grapes? Why should I avoid broccoli?

My experience with Viome would have felt more complete had the results been explained in more detail. However, it’s clear from my health scores that I have some work to do to optimize my oral and gut health and overall well-being.

Is Viome evidence-based?

Yes, Viome has published evidence-based papers proving that people who follow its food and supplement recommendations have reduced their clinical scores for IBS, depression, anxiety, and diabetes by over 30%. It’s worth noting that Viome sponsored this research and it has not been peer-reviewed yet. That said, the claims are based on scientific evidence.

Viome Micriobiome Test

Viome Full Body Intelligence Test

What tests does Viome offer?

Gut + Cellular + Oral Health: Full Body Intelligence Test

Collection Method: SalivaBloodStool

Coverage: Not covered by health insurance; can use an HSA or FSA account to purchase

Payment/Subscription Options: No subscriptions offered

Provides health scores for: Biological ageGut healthImmune system healthOral healthBrain and cognitive healthHeart and metabolic healthCellular and energy efficiencyInflammation response

Result time: 2 to 3 weeks

The Full Body Intelligence Test is Viome’s most comprehensive test available (and the one I tried). It includes samples from saliva, blood, and stool to provide a complete survey of your internal health. The results offer actionable nutrition recommendations to optimize digestion, immunity, oral health, cardiovascular health, mental health, how you’re aging internally, and more.

The results include 8 high-level Integrative Health scores to determine your food and supplement recommendations for the next 4 to 6 months. The brand advises retesting at that point, to ensure the changes you’ve made are altering your internal health. Any adaptations required can be reformulated with new and updated results.

Users will receive a list of food recommendations categorized as “Superfoods,” “Enjoy,” “Minimize,” and “Avoid”. Just note, there is no explanation for why foods are categorized in these particular groups. The results also include recommendations for vitamins, food extracts, minerals, amino acids, and herbs. Viome offers an option to order custom-formulated supplements made specifically for the user based on the results.

Gut + Cellular Health: Health Intelligence Test

Collection Method: BloodStool

Coverage: Not covered by health insurance; can use an HSA or FSA account to purchase

Payment/Subscription Options: No subscriptions offered

Provides health scores for: Biological ageImmune system healthGut microbiome healthCellular healthMitochondrial healthStress response health

Result time: 2 to 3 weeks

Viome’s Health Intelligence Test is the brand’s second most comprehensive test. It analyzes how your gut microbiome and digestive health are helping or impairing other bodily functions, including your immune system, cellular health, and how your body is aging internally.

Compared with the Full Body Intelligence Test, the Health Intelligence test includes only five high-level Integrative Health scores instead of eight. However, the results will still outline recommended food and supplements to include and avoid until you test again in 6 months.

The Health Intelligence Test informs users on how their current diet and lifestyle are impacting their health and why they might be experiencing certain symptoms. By analyzing blood and stool samples, the test provides a complete guide to your gut microbiome.

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Gut Health: Gut Intelligence Test

Collection Method: Stool

Coverage: Not covered by health insurance; can use an HSA or FSA account to purchase

Payment/Subscription Options: No subscriptions offered

Provides health scores for: Gut microbiome health

Result time: 2 to 3 weeks

The foundational test from Viome, the Gut Intelligence Test, focuses on your digestive health and the activity in your gut microbiome.

Your Integrative Functional Health Score for gut health will determine your food and supplement recommendations, focusing on optimizing digestion and food absorption. If someone suffers from gut lining issues, gas production, difficult digestive processes, or lack of food diversity, this is a great test to consider.

Requiring only a stool sample, this is the simplest of the Viome test kits. There is no need to fast before collecting your stool, so as soon as your kit arrives and the opportunity presents, you can collect the sample.

Viome vs. the competitors

All microbiome testing companies, outside of Viome, are focused on microbial DNA and can tell you what organisms are in your gut. However, they do not tell you how these organisms are impacting your body. For example, the same organism can be beneficial in one person and harmful in another, depending on that individual’s unique gut ecosystem.

Unlike its competitors, Viome analyzes mRNA, instead of DNA, to determine the root cause of health issues (early signals), as opposed to simply identifying the symptoms. Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a transcription of someone’s DNA.

DNA remains the same throughout your life, which is why food recommendations based on DNA will never change–even if you gain weight or begin to develop a health condition. If your DNA never changes, what changes as you become sick? The answer is your RNA, or “gene expression.” Viome’s tests analyze gene expressions from your microbial and human cells, in order to provide you with insights and food and supplement recommendations that will help bring your body back into balance and keep you healthy.

As we look at all our picks for the best gut microbiome tests, Viome is our most-recommended option. However, the other tests offer different features that might be best for certain people.

Biome is an option for those who desire a live consultation to review results. For $180, users can connect with someone to ask clarifying questions and gain further insight into what their biomarker readings mean.

With Biome, your results reveal a gut health score from 1 to 10. Although straightforward and simple, it may not provide enough detail for some. Biome results can take 4 to 6 weeks, and only measures two biomarkers, bacteria and fungi, through a stool sample.

Retesting after making the recommended changes is imperative to ensure your dietary changes are helping. Flor?, another microbiome test, has an option for a monthly $79 subscription, which includes a microbiome test every four months, along with a uniquely-formulated supplement shipped to your door. Flor? also includes follow-up consultations with a “care scientist,” who will review the results after your test. Providing results in 1 to 3 weeks and testing for bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites, and yeast, this all-inclusive option is ideal for someone who wants to test their gut health regularly.

FAQ:

Is Viome FDA-approved?

No. There are no FDA-approved at-home microbiome tests. These tests should not be used to diagnose health conditions, but instead should be used for informational purposes only. However, Viome provides wellness tests using GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) ingredients that are already authorized and approved by the FDA.

Is Viome testing worth it?

People who are experiencing symptoms either in their gut, immune system, mental health, cardiovascular health, or oral health who have not found a simple diagnosis from their healthcare provider could benefit from using the Viome tests. It may be an expensive test that is not covered by health insurance, but it provides deep insight into how your food and supplement choices are affecting your health.

Who should try Viome?

Anyone who is struggling to lose weight, has trouble sleeping, has feelings of anxiety or depression or has digestive problems like bloating, gas, stomach pain, or constipation could use a Viome test to determine whether a change in diet and supplements could improve their symptoms.

The Full Body Intelligence Test is recommended for people who feel any of the above, a lack of energy or brain fog, or who simply wants to improve their immune health, oral health, gut health, skin health, and biological age. Essentially, anyone looking to take control of their health and optimize their body and mind for peak performance should try Viome.

Who should skip Viome?

Viome is taking the guesswork out of eating right by providing personalized food and supplement insights, unique to each individual. However, at just under $400, this kit is on the expensive side–so it probably isn’t for you if you aren’t willing to make the recommended changes. That in mind, traditional medicine tests are expensive, too. According to Viome, many people are spending more on food and supplements that may be damaging their internal health than what they could spend on a test to gain clarity and save money in the long run.

Viome Micriobiome Test

Viome Full Body Intelligence Test

The takeaway.

Viome’s mission is to improve health by delivering scientific breakthroughs designed to address the root causes of chronic diseases and aging. Viome’s tests can empower you with insights and actionable recommendations to live a long and healthy life.

I would personally recommend Viome to anyone who is looking to bring their health to an optimal level. Because the follow-up process is lacking, I advise finding a holistic healthcare provider who can help you decipher your results and work on a plan to optimize your health. In the meantime, try out these three daily gut health habits to incorporate into your daily routine.

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