The gut is extremely important to our overall health. Studies have found that your gut health is connected to your immune system, mood, mental health, as well as autoimmune diseases, skin conditions, and more. There are several ways to tell how your gut is functioning, ranging from your diet to inflammation.
Viome is a company that offers at-home microbiome testing kits for people who are looking to learn more about their gut health. Gut microbiome refers to the microorganisms living in your intestines, some of which are harmful to our health, while others are beneficial.
Using a platform powered by artificial intelligence, Viome collects users’ blood and stool samples to analyze their microbial (bacteria in your gut) and human gene expressions (proteins that dictate cell function). The company then provides diet and lifestyle recommendations to help improve gut conditions and overall health. In some cases, the company suggests taking its branded blends of supplements.
With the rise of probiotics and eating more whole foods, balancing your gut microbiome has become a health priority. However, there is little science to back up the claims Viome makes about what their tests can do. Additionally, the platform uses AI, not doctors or dietitians, to provide recommendations. The company has also received poor reviews for its customer service.
Here’s what you should know about Viome testing services and why we would not recommend them.
What is a gut microbiome test?
Your gut microbiome includes the bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes that live in your intestines. These microorganisms are essential for moderating digestion, the central nervous system, and the immune system.
A gut microbiome test can look at the composition of the different types of microbes within your gut. These tests are performed by analyzing stool samples.
Typically, a gut microbiome test looks for yeast overgrowth, immune and inflammatory markers, bacterial overgrowth, parasites, and beneficial microbes. They also identify markers for common issues like calprotectin, which is associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
How does Viome work?
Order your kit
To get started with Viome, you can purchase one of its four testing options (Precision Supplements Complete, Precision Probiotics and Prebiotics, Health Intelligence Test with Gut Intelligence, and Gut Intelligence test). Next, you’ll receive your test kit in the mail. Shipping is free.
Collect your sample and mail it in
Collect your sample (blood, stool, or both, depending on your testing kit) and send it back using the prepaid mailer provided by Viome.
Get your results
Once Viome has received your sample, the lab processes it and gives you your results within 3 to 4 weeks. You can review them through your account on the Viome site and the accompanying app.
Your results will show what microbes were found in your gut microbiome, along with numerical scores in categories like metabolic fitness and digestive efficiency. It will also provide diet and lifestyle recommendations based on your score and your sample analysis.
The test results also outline a personalized list of foods you should avoid and foods you should eat. These conclusions are based on an analysis of the bacteria, fungi, mold, and other microbes found in your gut.
The foods to avoid may be based on whether your microbiome can properly process those foods or if you’re unable to absorb their nutrients. (However, it’s important to note that these suggested food restrictions may be incompatible with your overall nutritional needs.)
Furthermore, the results provided from Viome’s analysis may not give the complete picture as the results are based primarily on gene and microbiota analysis; the microbiome is only one part of a very complex digestive system.
If you signed up for the subscription kit with supplements, you’ll receive monthly shipments of Viome supplements based on your results. You can pause and resume your subscription by logging into your account on the site or the app. To cancel, you need to call the company.
What do Viome tests tell you?
Viome tests analyze your samples to determine various markers of health, including:
- biological age (based on cell function and DNA damage)
- energy levels
- gut microbiome health
- stress response
- cellular health
- immune system health
Viome maintains that its tests can help people achieve better digestion, more energy, weight loss, a more efficient metabolism, and better sleep.
What types of tests does Viome offer?
Gut Intelligence Test
- Price: $129
- Sample: stool
The Gut Intelligence Test is Viome’s base model test. Using a stool sample, the test checks for overall gut microbiome health, including gut lining health, diversity, and inflammation. Your results will outline the best foods to eat and avoid, depending on the current state of your gut.
Once you send your sample in, you should receive your results within 2 to 3 weeks. The test specifically measures your microbial gene expression, which has an impact on your physiology and nutrition.
The findings from your sample will include more than 20 scores related to your gut microbiome health (metabolic fitness, digestive efficiency, and more), a personalized list of foods to eat and avoid, and recommendations for supplements, prebiotics, and probiotics to take.
This test is currently on sale for $129 instead of its regular price of $199.
Health Intelligence Test
- Price: $199
- Sample: blood and stool
This test combines the Gut Intelligence test with the Human Gene Expression test to provide a more in-depth look into both your gut microbiome health and your DNA. The results will assess your biological age (your internal age), as well as other health markers like stress response and cellular health (an explanation of your overall health based on the function of your cells).
The Health Intelligence Test also provides nutritional guidance. Since the Human Gene Expression test cannot be purchased individually, this combination test is the only way to get those results. This test requires both blood and stool samples. You should also receive your results within 2 to 3 weeks of sending them in.
The test normally retails for $299 but is currently on sale for $199.
Precision Probiotics + Prebiotics with Gut Intelligence Testing
- Price: $59.95/month
- Sample: stool
This monthly subscription includes one Gut Intelligence Test per year, as well as a monthly supply of Viome’s individually tailored prebiotics and probiotics. With each shipment, you’ll receive a 30-day supply of supplements. You’ll also get everything that’s included with the regular Gut Intelligence Test, such as a personalized list of foods to eat and avoid, and health insights.
You can cancel or pause your subscription at any time.
Precision Supplements Complete with Health and Gut Intelligence Testing
- Price: $199/month
- Sample: blood and stool
This package contains the Health Intelligence Test kit (which includes the Gut Intelligence test and the Human Gene Expression test) that’s shipped every 6 months, as well as personalized prebiotics and probiotics. These tests require blood and stool samples.
Like the Precision Probiotics and Prebiotics package, the prebiotics, probiotics, and supplements are regularly updated as your test results shift. Each month, you’ll receive a 30-day supply of Precision Supplements, a personalized formula of vitamins, herbs, food extracts, amino acids, and minerals, and your Precision Probiotic and Prebiotic formula.
This monthly subscription box can be canceled or paused at any point.
Please note all above prices are subject to change.
Alternatives to Viome
Instead of Viome, there are other at-home tests that — though scientifically different — can help determine food sensitivities:
This company offers a food intolerance and food allergy test that checks 96 food intolerances and 44 allergies. There’s even a more extensive intolerance and allergy test that looks for 208 food sensitivities and 44 allergies.
Both tests require you to collect and submit a small blood sample to detect both IgE, an antibody that’s produced in response to a perceived threat, and IgG4, an antibody linked with chronic immune-mediated disorder.
After you receive your results, you can make an appointment to speak with a nutrition consultant to review your recommendations. Supplements are also available for purchase.
Everlywell offers two food sensitivity tests: a basic test to gauge your reaction to 96 foods and a comprehensive test to check 204 foods. Both use immunoglobulin G (IgG) testing that looks for amounts of certain types of antibodies.
Additionally, each test is reviewed by an independent board certified physician. Once you get your results, you can participate in a group webinar with a healthcare professional to talk about the next steps.
Everlywell also uses Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)Trusted Source certified labs, which are regulated to conduct quality testing, regular inspections, and lab-quality improvement studies.
This company provides a wide range of tests, including an Ancestry + Health Report, which analyzes saliva samples to determine your sensitivities to foods. The results also provide insight into how your body metabolizes various foods.
The results include a personalized macronutrient and meal plan, as well as an ancestry report with your ethnic breakdown. Vitagene also offers a blood-based food sensitivity test that tests 96 foods using IgG antibodies.
Company reputation and reviews
On the Viome website, user reviews are highly positive, with customers describing how they’ve lost weight and have started to sleep better. However, there is no verification or transparency about who these people actually are — the site simply lists text testimonials from satisfied customers.
What to do before buying
Before taking any gut health test, it’s important to talk with your doctor about any health problems you may have. If you do decide to purchase a test through Viome, know that the processing time may be longer than expected.
Additionally, be sure to follow all the instructions for sample collection to avoid having your sample not fit the qualifications. If you opt for a subscription that offers Viome supplements, you should consult your healthcare professional about any new vitamins you’re adding to your diet.
Is Viome FDA approved?
The tests listed on the Viome website are not FDA approved. However, the company received FDA approval for its mRNA technology and AI platform in relation to detecting oral and throat cancers.
What can a microbiome test tell you?
A microbiome test can detect bacteria, mold, fungi, yeast, and other microbes present in your stool.
When should I see a doctor?
You should reach out for medical assistance if you have any pain or inflammation or notice any sudden changes in your body.
Why is good gut health important?
Studies show that a healthy gut may reduce cholesterolTrusted Source, prevent IBSTrusted Source and IBDTrusted Source, lower your risk of heart disease trusted Source, improve mental healthTrusted Source, and help manage blood sugarTrusted Source. A healthy gut microbiome may also be caused by digesting certain foods and preventing disease-causing bacteria from sticking to the intestinal walls.
A healthy gut microbiome is an important part of your overall well-being, but Viome’s tests are not an ideal way to analyze your gut or your general health. Talk with your doctor about any concerns you may have about your gut health. Together, you can come up with a plan that’s tailored to you and your body’s specific needs.