Your body is home to trillions of microorganisms. They outnumber your human cells 10 to 1. Fortunately, the vast majority of them evolved alongside us, and they have a vested interest in keeping us healthy.
The totality of microorganisms in your body is called your microbiome. It’s so crucial that many scientists have begun to regard it as an organ unto itself. There are subdivisions of your microbiome related to specific body parts or functions, and your gut microbiome might be the most important of the bunch. But how do you know if your microbiome is healthy?
Viome is one of the first and most respected microbiome testing companies to sell tests directly to consumers. The dual focus of the company provides
- Testing to achieve a comprehensive understanding of your microbiome, and
- Personalized supplements to optimize its performance
So we wanted to know, do Viome’s tests live up to the hype? More importantly, should you invest in one of their tests? We’ve tested their products, researched their approaches, and even visited their lab to learn more about their methodology and provide you with the best info to help you decide.
- Not available to residents of New York state
- Return shipping from outside the United States is an added expense
- Microbiome science is still somewhat new
- Stool sample collection may be uncomfortable for some
Viome’s convenient and sophisticated gut microbiome testing is superior to competitors because it tests much more comprehensively.
Viome tests for more than just bacteria, giving you a fuller picture of your gut microbiome. Whether you choose the Gut Intelligence or the Health Intelligence service, Viome’s test will impress you and can produce valuable and actionable insights.
- Why you should trust our Viome review
- How we evaluated Viome
- What is Viome?
- How Viome's tests work
- Privacy considerations
- What exactly is my microbiome?
- Testing with Viome
- Viome products and pricing
- Gut Intelligence Test
- Precision Probiotics Plus Prebiotics
- Health Intelligence Test
- Precision Supplements Complete
- Inside Viome's laboratories
- Viome microbiome testing FAQ
- Getting started with Viome
- Shipping and returns
At Innerbody Research, we extensively test each health service we review, including Viome. All told, our team has spent over 132 hours testing and researching Viome and its competitors to provide an accurate, unbiased analysis of how the products and services compare, free of marketing jargon and gimmicks.
Additionally, we paid a visit to Viome’s labs to get a first-hand look at their technology and techniques. This experience gives us unique insight into the company’s commitment to quality, transparency, and service.
Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions to live healthier lifestyles. We evaluate the service based on adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?
Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
Viome’s Gut Intelligence Test sits at a comparable price point to a lot of the competition. Still, the results they offer and their ability to turn those into personalized probiotic, prebiotic, and vitamin regimens are a significant improvement over other company’s offerings. The subscription costs for those products and additional tests to keep track of your progress are substantial, but our testers experienced noteworthy differences thanks to those supplements, so it’s hard to argue with the cost.
Viome’s results are where the company shines. They boast incredibly high accuracy and reliability thanks to their consistent investment in evolving tech and testing methods. Unlike many other companies that rely on DNA sequencing, Viome uses RNA, which provides a better picture of active microorganisms in the gut.
The documentation you receive is comprehensive and easy to follow. It lists common foods you should avoid, as well as those that are particularly good for your current microbial composition. Their Health Intelligence Test takes this process even further, detailing things like biological age and the health of your stress response, immune system, and more.
Viome doesn’t simply list foods and substances to add to your diet or avoid. They give you deeper information about why these recommendations make sense specifically for you, based on your test results. You’ll get to explore the clinical studies that underpin Viome’s recommendations, if you want to dig deeper.
Our testers uniformly saw benefits from taking the personalized probiotics, prebiotics, and vitamins Viome provided. Within a few days, they noticed increased bowel regularity and decreased brain fog. In one case, a tester with mild GERD and gastritis saw his symptoms improve within 2-3 weeks of use. We can confidently say that these supplements make a noticeable difference when you take them. They’ll likely increase your quality of life and possibly reduce the symptoms of disorders related to gut health.
Viome is fast and generous with their responses. Our testers repeatedly found answers to their questions without having to look any further than the chat feature on the company’s website, on the other end of which are real humans and not bots. One of their most generous features is that the company will update you with improved results if they use your archived sample with any new technology or methods they develop.
Compared to at-home tests in other sectors like sexual health or general wellness, processing samples for the human microbiome can take longer. But Viome’s turnaround time was right in line with what you’d expect from this kind of testing, if not a little quicker. Shipping isn’t lightning-fast, but our testers routinely received kits within five business days, which we found reasonable. Personalized supplements came in the mail a bit faster, but it still takes a little over a week to formulate them.
Viome is upfront about their data policies. They commit not to sell any of your data, and they ensure that it contains nothing that could be traced back to you. They offer you the option to have your data and samples used to further their research, but they won’t do anything of the kind without your explicit consent.
Founded in 2016, Viome is a nutritional genomics company that aims to empower people with wellness advice based on the composition of their microbiome and their cellular and mitochondrial health. They offer trusted, convenient, and sophisticated at-home tests and a secure interface for reviewing the results and recommendations. Viome’s services also include a subscription option for those who wish to incorporate personalized prebiotics, probiotics, and supplements into their routines based on their results. You can use Viome strictly to test and learn or opt for the ongoing subscription services, including follow-up tests.
Viome is ideal for just about everyone, as we all have unique microbiomes. Learning more about the makeup of the collection of microbes in your gut can be an essential first step in diagnosing or even treating certain diseases and disorders. It’s worth noting the Viome no longer advises pregnant women or women looking to become pregnant to utilize their custom supplement packages. They can still enjoy personalized prebiotics and probiotics, but Viome is currently working on a supplemental package for perinatal women.
Viome offers two types of tests:
Gut Intelligence - This test examines your gut microbiome. Viome uses it to provide you with a comprehensive picture of your unique microbiome and develop a customized regimen of probiotics, prebiotics, and supplements.
Health Intelligence - This test goes a step further than the Gut Intelligence test, examining cellular and mitochondrial health and evaluating your immune system, stress response, and biological age. You can’t purchase this test on its own; you can only purchase it bundled with the Gut Intelligence test.
Viome sets themselves apart from the competition by constantly pushing the technological envelope to access the most advanced testing methods and infrastructure available. They use two types of advanced science and technology applications that make an enormous difference in their efficacy:
- Metatranscriptomic sequencing
- Machine learning (artificial intelligence)
Metatranscriptomic sequencing involves looking at the entire ‘transcriptome’ of all the organisms in your gut. In short, they do not analyze the DNA of the microbes to determine what species are present. Instead, they test the RNA.
RNA, like DNA, is a nucleic acid. While DNA is all the genetic information in an organism, RNA is the functional output of this information. Metatranscriptomic sequencing sequences the RNA of all the microorganisms present and actively expressing genes. Because DNA can leave a signature behind even after a microorganism has died, it can obscure the picture of your gut’s microbial community. Viome’s approach here provides a better reflection of the activities of all the organisms and how these activities could be impacting your health.
Viome’s artificial intelligence is how they analyze and interpret their findings against a wealth of scientific data about the microbiome. This machine learning allows them to understand the different species in your gut, what they likely mean for your health, and how to modify them for optimal health.
The more people who use the service, the more data the company can analyze — developing the pipeline, identifying new trends, and making it more intelligent by the day.
Viome separates any identifiable information from your health data. All data is protected with multiple layers of encryption to ensure its security.
Viome also commits never to sell your data and won’t provide your information to employers, health insurance companies, or law enforcement (unless they are legally required to do so).
When you test with Viome, you have the option to allow Viome to use your anonymized data to advance their scientific research. The company will not do this unless you explicitly authorize it. Importantly, they ask your preference at the outset in a clear, up-front way rather than including or excluding you by default and forcing you to search for how to change your preference.
If you opt-in and consent to allow Viome to continue using your samples and data, they’ll send you free updates if and when your sample or data garner additional insights as their methods and technologies improve.
Your microbiome is the entire population of microorganisms that live on and inside your body. These microscopic beings provide tremendous health benefits when the best of them have the opportunity to thrive. This collection includes fungi, viruses, and nonpathogenic parasitic protozoa — not just bacteria.
Often, when people talk about their microbiome, they’re referring to the microorganisms that populate their intestines. We call this the gut microbiome. Healthy guts have thousands of species of microorganisms coexisting in relative harmony like a sprawling metropolis. The more research we do into the various functions this population performs, the more we find how critical its health is to our well-being.
There are bacteria, for example, that break down specific proteins that our body cannot digest alone. That results in greater bioavailability of nutrients in the food we eat. Taking in more nutrients from less food is just one of the ways these microorganisms helped us evolve into the efficient species we are today.
Imbalances between “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut appear in several studies as the potential cause for various health problems, many of which center on inflammation. Other studies draw compelling links between microbiome health and mood disorders like depression. Tending to the gut microbiome might benefit us in a host of profound ways – improving immunity, providing more restful sleep, protecting us as we age, promoting regularity, and even helping us to think more clearly.
Testing with Viome is pretty straightforward, but whichever of the two tests you choose, you’ll have to submit a stool sample. This is understandably not the most exciting kind of sample collection for most people, but Viome does whatever they can to make the process as simple, clean, and safe as possible. They provide you with a collection pad that securely adheres to your toilet bowl, as well as a small scooper for actually collecting the sample and depositing it into the included tube. The Viome website has video instructions for added convenience.
Our testers found that the collection pads adhered nicely to the side of the bowl and were easy to remove despite being strong enough not to buckle under the pressure of a bowel movement. And the included scooper was effective, even with somewhat stiff movements (likely due to dehydration).
Insider Tip: Viome sends you two stool collection papers of different sizes in order to accommodate any toilet bowl. And for those on a septic system, you can rest assured that these papers are also septic-safe. Whether septic or sewer, just let the paper soak in the toilet for a few minutes prior to flushing.
Blood collection with Viome’s kit is equally simple and will be a little more comfortable for many people. You have to fast for at least eight hours before collecting your blood sample. It’s easiest to perform your collection early in the morning before consuming anything other than water.
The kit provides you with a few automatic retractable lancets you use to prick your finger and collect blood into four slim vials that look a lot like narrow eye droppers. These devices — called MiniVets — soak up blood nicely, so you don’t have to produce too much of it to gather the required amount. One of our testers — who doesn’t always bleed very well — filled his MiniVets with ease. The company asks you to fill four of these small MiniVets for the most accurate possible results, but filling two is technically enough to run all the necessary tests.
Viome’s pricing is decidedly simple, as they offer three products in various combinations. Here’s a quick look at the options and what they include, and remember that Innerbody Research readers get $10 off their first order with the discount code: INNERBODY
|Gut Intelligence Test||Health and Gut Intelligence Test||Gut Intelligence Subscription||Health and Gut Intelligence Subscription|
|Retest every six months?||
|Cellular Health Testing||
|Mitochondrial Health Testing||
|Immune System Testing||
|Stress Response Testing||
|Biological Age Testing||
As you can see, Viome’s subscription levels offer customized nutritional formulas, either as a simple pre/probiotic mixture or as a complete regimen of prebiotics, probiotics, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, and food extracts. We believe the value of this service is exceptionally high, both in terms of cost and convenience. The top-tier subscription also provides you with a free retest every six months, so you can see how your new regimen affects your microbiome balance or your health and wellness scores.
You can take either test on its own and add a supplement plan after you receive your results, but since the test is less expensive with the supplement plan and you have the option to cancel at any time, that is probably the least economical option.
No matter which test you take, Viome designs a tailor-made action plan to help you improve the ecosystem of microbes present in your gut. This plan includes steps to help you improve the overall diversity of microorganisms, reduce the presence of pathogenic microorganisms, and increase the presence of “good” microorganisms.
The report includes foods (and potentially supplements) you should incorporate into your dietary regimen as well as those you should avoid. These personalized diet and supplement recommendations could help you improve:
- Immune function
- Skin health
- Mental focus
- Energy levels
- Weight management
Insider Tip: Viome tests do not detect food sensitivities or allergies. If you have these, you should not consume foods containing diagnosed or suspected food intolerances, even if your results suggest incorporating them into your diet.
In each reporting area, you’ll be able to drill down deeper as Viome explains their recommendations (why you should avoid a certain food, how a different food would particularly benefit you based on your test results, or how a particular substance added to your supplement regimen could improve your metabolic health, for example). Viome provides links to clinical studies that yielded the results that compelled the company to make these recommendations.
The Gut Intelligence Test [$89 with discount code INNERBODY] focuses strictly on your gut microbiome. From a stool sample that you collect at home, Viome can tell you about the health of your microbiome and how you can improve it. They generate a report that shows you the activities of the microorganisms living in your gut, including factors such as:
- Digestive efficiency
- Gas production
- Metabolic fitness
Viome’s microbiome examination is more thorough than those that some competitors offer. You’ll often find a microbiome test that only looks at bacterial populations, ignoring other microorganisms whose presence plays a vital role in overall gut health. Viome’s test looks at:
- Yeast and other fungi
Results are both fascinating and actionable. For instance, one of our testers discovered that – among other foods – bell peppers could be problematic in his diet. A couple of easy clicks within Viome’s interface revealed that his gut microbiome contained the pepper mild mottle virus, which studies show can cause gut inflammation.
If you think that one probiotic is as good as another, you might be surprised to find the tremendous diversity of probiotic strains available to consumers. Depending on the state of your gut microbiome and your specific needs and goals, one strain might be ideal for you, while another could have adverse effects.
Building on the value of their tests, Viome has introduced two subscription plans. The Precision Probiotics + Prebiotics plan [$50 with code INNERBODY] provides you with monthly supplies of a customized probiotic and prebiotic blend formulated in response to your test results.
Viome will formulate a blend of probiotics + prebiotics specifically for the needs of your gut microbiome. They have a pool of over 200 possible bacterial strains and ingredients at their disposal to ensure a personalized mixture using your test results, data from clinical trials and laboratory research, and sophisticated AI that crunches all of this data together to produce the recommendations.
Viome’s Health Intelligence Test [$189 with discount code INNERBODY] includes all of the services offered in the Gut Intelligence Test. It also measures your genes’ activity using RNA sequencing from a blood test.
Integrating the data from this blood sample with the data from your stool sample yields various scores that give you a more complete picture of your health.
The parameters you gain access to with the Health Intelligence Test include the following.
Viome’s metabolic fitness score is a measurement of microbial activity related to blood sugar, insulin resistance, and weight control. Anyone concerned with diabetes, obesity, or other ailments related to weight and blood sugar could gain crucial insights here.
This fascinating score measures how hard your cells have to work to achieve their essential functions. Lower efficiency in cellular activity comes as we age. Viome’s vast data stores allow them to compare your activity against enough people to determine whether your cells are working more or less efficiently than those of your peers.
Your cellular health score is a 30,000-foot view of your general wellness, measuring inflammation, stress, efficiency, and age. It can identify potential triggers like oxidative stress or environmental toxins, allowing the company to recommend particular supplements. As with each of their other reported scores, Viome gives you ample opportunity to drill much deeper and understand the rationale behind their recommendations.
In the case of Cellular Health, for instance, you could drill down on mitochondrial health – an exploration of how well your cell’s tiny mitochondria are functioning as they provide vital energy that enables cells to do things like repair themselves. In the case of one of our testers, mitochondrial health was sub-optimal, and one of the supplements Viome recommended for improving mitochondrial health was quercetin.
Cellular senescence describes the process by which cells cease to divide as they get older. This cessation leads to decreased efficiency and an inability to break down proteins and complete basic cellular operations completely. Older cells can also contribute to overall toxicity in the body.
Viome’s Precision Supplements Complete [$189 with code INNERBODY] is a subscription plan based on the Health Intelligence test. If you can afford it, we highly recommend it. Included in this plan:
- All insights you would gain from Gut Intelligence testing
- Additional insights that come from the bloodwork in the Health Intelligence Test
- Monthly supplies of bespoke pre/probiotics
- Monthly supplies of bespoke supplements
- Retesting every six months to fine-tune your personalized formula
Insider Tip: Viome has an alternative option for their Health Intelligence Test with complete pre/probiotics and supplements, but without the free biannual testing. It costs $149/month, but we advise against this plan. Without re-testing, Voime can’t make adjustments to your regimen, and paying for re-testing in addition to this plan is more expensive than the original plan’s $199/month.
In late 2021, we gained access to Viome’s Seattle-based laboratories. While visiting their research lab, warehouse, accessioning lab, pre-PCR lab, and sequencing lab, we saw first-hand the techniques and technology they employ to provide exceptionally accurate results and found a company on the bleeding edge of their market.
Instead of relying on other companies to develop testing methods, Viome has a research department dedicated to innovations in blood, saliva, and stool testing. That gives them a distinct advantage over other providers, as their testing knowledge extends beyond practical methods and into the very hardware used in the process. The research lab has a quiet hum of excitement about it, and it’s clear that the scientists there are deeply engaged in what they’re doing.
Viome’s latest focus (and the focus of the research scientist shown above) is proteomic testing, specifically related to proteins involved in cancers and food sensitivities. This testing can potentially identify markers for leaky gut, insulin resistance, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) with possible future applications in several critical areas including digestive inflammation and mental health. One of the culminations of their current research could be a direct-to-consumer food sensitivity test that is both superior to and much more affordable than existing tests on the market, improving accessibility for many Americans.
Viome is also in the process of designing and building processing robots to replace their current technology. On our trip, we encountered Viome’s liquid-handling robot (pictured at the top of this section), which costs about $350,000 and is the size of a large dresser. The machines Viome is designing are about the size of a shoebox. More importantly, they only cost about $25,000, which will significantly reduce costs.
“What we’re doing is disruptive,” said Momo Vuyisich, Chief Scientist at Viome. “We really want to disrupt the healthcare industry because it’s so annoying in so many ways.”
They’ve developed a proprietary preservative that allows their samples to remain stable at room temperature, which was a huge advantage for them. They’re working toward testing microRNA for added specificity in their understanding of gene expression. With each innovation, Viome’s tests get faster, more accurate, and less expensive. And since they control more and more aspects of their process, they can react to problems without relying on outside companies.
All this furious forward momentum is necessary, though. Dr. Vuyisich is all too aware that Viome is competing in a space defined by rapid innovation.
“If I told you I was going to drive my Tesla 100 mph down the freeway today, you might be disturbed, but would you be flabbergasted by that?” he asks. “No — you can do that easily, right? But if someone told you that in ten years, you could sit in that same Tesla and drive one hundred billion miles per hour, what would you say? No way, right? That’s four times the speed of light! That’s literally not possible. But in genomics, that’s exactly the scale of development that occurred in ten years.”
He added, “In 2004 when we finished the human genome project, you had to have a hangar — like a Boeing-size hangar — full of instruments working for ten years to do what our sequencer can do in one day. And that cost a billion dollars, whereas this costs a thousand dollars.”
Viome’s most impressive piece of current technology might be its sequencing robot, shown above. Without endangering quality control, we couldn’t safely enter the sequencing area, but this $1 million robot can run 20 billion sequences in parallel over 24-48 hours.
Dr. Vuyisich underscored the ambition and fast development that characterize the company based on our experience and testing: “We have to disrupt ourselves.”
At times, Viome appears to surprise even themselves with the pace of advancements. One astonished Viome employee overheard our conversation about the shoebox robots, turned to a nearby executive, and asked, “Is that true?”
It is true, and it feels like it’s only the beginning.
How long does Viome testing take?
Microbiome testing with Viome takes approximately five weeks: about one week to receive your kit, collect your sample, and ship it back, and about four weeks to process the sample completely. Blood sample testing takes a bit longer than stool testing, so if you take the Health Intelligence Test alongside the Gut Intelligence Test, you’ll receive gut health results first — usually within about three weeks of their receipt at the lab. Seven to 10 days later, your blood test results should arrive.
How accurate are the results?
Thanks to Viome’s advanced testing methods and technologies, the company can achieve incredible accuracy. Using RNA sequencing instead of DNA sequencing also ensures that the microorganisms their testing detects are active in your gut. That allows their recommendations for dietary changes, probiotics, prebiotics, and supplements to provide you with a noticeable increase in wellness.
When will I see results from probiotics?
Probiotics usually take 2-3 weeks to start delivering noticeable benefits. That’s because it takes time for them to colonize your gut, kicking out the bad bacteria and other microorganisms and instituting their various regulatory processes. Our testers found this time frame to be consistent with their most improved symptoms, while some noted help with brain fog and concentration as early as one week into their regimens.
Are Viome probiotics FDA-approved?
The FDA doesn’t provide approval for probiotics or other supplements the way it does for drugs. Instead, they regard these as food products. As a result, Viome probiotics, prebiotics, and supplements aren’t technically eligible for any kind of FDA approval.
Do probiotics have any side effects?
Some side effects are possible when beginning a probiotic regimen. These may include mild digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, or discomfort. These effects often occur because your gut balance is in transition. Once enough good bacteria take root, most side effects will subside.
Viome advises users to ease their way into their regimen, taking smaller portions of their probiotics for the first few days. Our testers found that this approach helped curb any side effects they may have experienced in the past with other probiotic products. Still, it’s wise to consult with your physician before starting any new supplement regimen.
What’s the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
While probiotics have been on the market long enough that people are familiar with what they are and how they work, prebiotics are a little less familiar to many. Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that naturally reside in our guts and help keep our digestive system healthy and safe from harmful, opportunistic pathogens. Prebiotics are the food for probiotics. Beneficial strains in our microbiome get food from what we eat, but prebiotic supplementation ensures that they have plenty of food to thrive.
Step 1: Order your test kit or subscribe
You can go to Viome and order the Gut Intelligence test, the Health Intelligence test, the subscription package based around the Gut Intelligence test, or the subscription built around the Health Intelligence test. Viome’s ordering process is very straightforward.
Step 2: Register your kit and provide some information
Once you receive your kit, you should register it online. During registration, Viome collects your answers to an extensive questionnaire covering your lifestyle, symptoms you may be experiencing, important details about hip and waist measurements, and other health and nutrition information.
Insider Tip: The Viome questionnaire includes questions about your recent bowel activity. Pay attention to your bowel movements (frequency, consistency, color, etc.) from the time when you place your order to when you register your kit. This will help you provide the most useful information during the questionnaire.
Your answers to these questions help Viome’s AI system make patterns and connections to ensure that your actionable insights are as personalized and helpful as possible.
Step 3: Collect your test samples
After registering your test kit, you can collect your stool sample. Viome provides you with a stool collection paper that you attach to the toilet. Following the instructions, deposit your stool onto the paper and then use the scoop to transfer one pea-sized amount of your stool to the tube. You then seal it and shake it. You can place the paper in the toilet and flush it after a few minutes.
If you ordered the Health Intelligence test, then you’ll also need to collect a blood sample. You must fast for eight hours before collection, so the company advises you to collect your sample early in the morning, not long after you wake up, and before consuming anything other than water.
Step 4: Receive results
Gut Intelligence test results should be available within 2-3 weeks of Viome receiving your sample, while Health Intelligence Test results will be available within 3-4 weeks. The company will notify you when your results are ready, and you can log into the portal on their website to access them.
Step 5: Take action
If you ordered a test kit by itself, you can put the rich microbiome insights in your report to good use, modifying your dietary and supplement routine. If you subscribed at one of the two possible subscription levels with Viome, then Viome will be in touch to explain the formulation process further.
Step 6: Begin personalized regimen (for subscribers only)
Viome will send subscribers monthly shipments of supplements formulated to help optimize your specific gut health. These may be only a probiotic and prebiotic mixture, or they may also include additional nutritional supplements depending on your subscription. Take these as directed.
Initially, you’ll have to wait a short while for Viome to design the probiotic formula that best meets your needs. This process took an average of nine days in testing.
Step 7: Retest
If you subscribe to Viome’s top-of-the-line plan — Precision Supplements Complete — then you will automatically receive kits to retest every six months. Subscribing to their lower-priced plan brings reductions in the price for retesting.
Shipping with Viome is free within the United States. It takes about 3-5 business days for your kit to arrive — depending somewhat on your location. They’ll provide you with shipping and delivery notifications via email. Return shipping for your sample is also free, and it takes a similar amount of time.
Subscribers who receive probiotic and supplemental shipments from Viome should find increased shipping times for these products. They consistently reached our testers in two days with delivery notifications via email.
14-day return policy
Viome is a little strict with their return policy. The only way to get 100% of your money back — including shipping — is if you cancel your order within 24 hours. After that, you have 13 more days to cancel your order, but you’ll lose $25 as a processing fee. Viome does not entertain any return requests after 14 days beyond the date of your order.