Until recent years, most of us didn’t really know what a microbiome was, and we gave little more than a passing thought to our “gut flora”. But scientific understanding of the trillions of microorganisms that comprise our gut microbiome has advanced and led to a much deeper appreciation of just how important the microbiome is to our broader health – so much so that the microbiome is often considered a supportive organ.
When you think of your microbiome as a supportive organ in your body, suddenly there’s a deep desire and a sense of urgency to find out whether yours is healthy, right? This is where Viome enters the picture.
Viome is one of the first and most respected microbiome testing companies to sell tests directly to consumers. The dual focus of the company is on testing that provides the most comprehensive understanding of your microbiome and then a convenient pivot to meaningful action you can take to improve your health based on these results.
So we wanted to know, do Viome’s tests live up to the hype? More importantly, should you invest in taking one of their tests? In this review you can explore our findings, recommendations and all pertinent details to help you decide.
- Viome’s tests can identify most, if not all, microorganisms that exist in your gut (other similar tests only focus on bacteria).
- Tests use RNA data as opposed to DNA data, reflecting the functional output of the microorganisms in your gut, which can be much more relevant to health.
- Viome is trustworthy and dedicated to science, with a clinical research program working in partnership with Mayo Clinic and other reputable organizations.
- Tests avoid privacy concerns associated with DNA tests since RNA data contain no personally identifiable information.
- Viome can harness your testing insights to deliver a personalized prebiotic and probiotic regimen each month.
- Your results are updated for free as Viome’s science and machine learning algorithms improve.
- Viome offers our readers $10 off all tests when using discount code INNERBODY upon checkout.
- Viome’s tests are not available to residents of New York state.
- Return shipping from outside the United States is an added expense.
- The link between the gut microbiome and overall health is evidently profound but still not fully understood. (Keep this in mind when making any changes to your diet and manage your expectations accordingly.)
We recommend Viome’s impressive microbiome tests and probiotic subscriptions. Viome’s approach to testing your microbiome is innovative and comprehensive. They are the only commercial company that offers metatranscriptomic testing of the gut microbiome (more on the significance of that below). We appreciate Viome’s unique approach, which provides more actionable data and corresponding insights and recommendations. Instead of simply learning which species of microbes are present, you will discover how they are interacting with your body and how, in turn, this may impact your health. And if you choose (recommended), you can take advantage of Viome’s monthly prebiotic and probiotic service to turn these insights into positive action.
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 us
- Viome and its tests
- Gut Intelligence service
- Precision Probiotics Plus Prebiotics
- Health Intelligence service
- Precision Supplements Complete
- How do Viome’s microbiome tests work?
- Getting started with Viome
- Privacy considerations
- What criteria do we use to evaluate home health products and services?
Innerbody Research recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.
This review, like all medical-related content on this website, is thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy. Additionally, we extensively analyze each health-related service we review. We evaluate the entire customer experience from signing up use of the product or service, and then offer unbiased, marketing-jargon-free analysis based on the latest scientific evidence and medical standards.
Founded in 2016, Viome is a nutritional genomics company that aims to empower people with health and wellness advice based on the composition of their microbiome. They have offered a trusted, convenient and sophisticated at-home tests and a secure interface for reviewing the results and recommendations. Now Viome has expanded its services to provide a subscription option for those who wish to incorporate personalized prebiotics and probiotics into their routines based on their unique microbiome composition. You can use Viome strictly to test and learn or opt for the ongoing subscription services, which include the tests of your choosing.
What exactly is my microbiome?
Your gut microbiome specifically describes the entire population of trillions of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. More broadly, your microbiome extends throughout your entire body to comprise various ecosystems of microorganisms.
And it’s not just bacteria in your microbiome, but rather all of the microorganisms, which include fungi, viruses and nonpathogenic, parasitic protozoa. Healthy guts, for instance, have thousands of species of microorganisms coexisting in relative harmony, like a sprawling metropolis.
This metropolis of microorganisms in your gut is important to your health. The presence and abundance of different species in the gut microbiome has been the subject of much scientific and clinical research and interest in recent years, due to its potential effects on a whole host of health outcomes. For example, inflammation is a contributing factor to many chronic diseases, including irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disorders, allergies, arthritis, and more.
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.
Two at-home tests and a four-stage experience
Viome ably assists you in the four stages we feel are fundamental in this process:
Test to assess your microbiome
Offer personalized nutritional advice
Deliver the specific nutritional needs to help you improve
Retest to verify that the regimen is working and to adjust the ideal formulation of your supplements
The purpose of testing your gut microbiome – stage one – is so that Viome can analyze the results and provide you with recommendations– stage two – which turn to action in stage three to improve your health (either on your own or with Viome’s help). Depending on whether you choose a subscription package – and which package you choose – retesting may be included.
Unlike some competitors, Viome doesn’t test only for bacteria but instead detects and analyzes the activity of all microorganisms in your gut –
- Yeast and other fungi
The company offers two different tests:
- Gut Intelligence – a test focusing on your gut microbiome
- Health Intelligence – a more comprehensive service analyzing the health of your cells in addition to your gut microbiome
Using your results, 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.
To achieve those goals, Viome provides you with a custom report, at minimum. The reporting 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:
Insider Tip: Viome tests do not detect food sensitivities or allergies, and 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.
- Immune function
- Skin health
- Mental focus
- Energy levels
- Weight management
When you subscribe to Viome’s services at one of two possible levels, you’ll also receive a personalized nutritional supplement formula based on those testing insights. From our experience, we believe the value here is very high; a Viome subscription saves you the considerable time and guesswork of having to find, measure, and manage all of the supplements that would benefit you in proper proportions.
Viome recommends periodic retesting to monitor how your gut health is developing with the changes you’ve made, as well as to facilitate important adjustments that might be necessary in order to keep your gut health optimal as the needs of your body change.
The Gut Intelligence test is Viome’s product focused strictly on your microbiome. From a stool sample collected via your at-home test kit, Viome can tell you about the health of your microbiome and how you can improve it. Your data is used to generate a report, which shows you the activities of the microorganisms living in your gut. This includes many various factors such as the following, to name a few:
- Digestive efficiency
- Gas production
- Metabolic fitness
Viome’s Gut Intelligence service is $149 at the time of writing (on sale from $299). With our INNERBODY code, you can reduce your price to $139. If you want to retest after a few months, as Viome recommends, your price will be further reduced.
Building on the value of its tests, Viome has introduced two subscription plans. For what roughly amounts to $2 per day, Precision Probiotics + Prebiotics allows you to test your gut microbiome and receive all of the microbiome scores, insights, and dietary recommendations that you’d normally receive with the Gut Intelligence test kit alone (one of the most comprehensive microbiome tests available).
With this subscription package, however, you’ll also receive monthly supplies of a customized prebiotic and probiotic blend, formulated based on your test results. If you currently take prebiotics and probiotics that aren’t crafted specifically for your gut, then we would encourage you to try this package. Not only does it relieve you from the burden of curating your own supplements in response to the test results, but also it addresses an underlying problem with mass-produced probiotic supplements in general – the fact that even a high-quality, potent probiotic that benefits some people will not benefit all people. To truly benefit from the supplementation, you need to do what’s best for your body.
In our testing experience, Viome delivers the same impressive level of service and benefit in their supplements as they always have in their testing. Our testers were impressed.
What these monthly supplements contain
Each month, Viome ships you a month’s supply of the following:
- Probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that naturally reside on our guts and help keep our digestive system healthy and safe from harmful, opportunistic strains. So you may ask, why not just buy a good probiotic blend from the pharmacy and save money? This gets tricky for two reasons. First, probiotics that benefit one person can actually be detrimental to somebody else. And second, the contributions made by microorganisms in your body can change based on the interactions between those microorganisms. Viome develops its personalized formula by drawing from more than 60 different strains.
- Prebiotics. Prebiotics are the food for probiotics. Beneficial strains in our microbiome get food within our guts anyway from what we eat, but prebiotic supplementation ensures that they have plenty of food to thrive. When you hear “prebiotics”, just think of “fiber” because the two are one and the same.
Viome’s probiotics + prebiotics monthly blend will be formulated specifically for the needs of your gut microbiome using data from your test results; copious data from clinical trials and laboratory research; and sophisticated AI that crunches all of this data together to produce the recommendations.
The Precision Probiotics + Prebiotics plan costs $60 per month.
The newer of Viome’s tests is their Health Intelligence test. In addition to all of the services offered in the Gut Intelligence test, the Health Intelligence test also measures the activity of your own genes.
RNA is extracted from your blood to determine the expression of some key genes. Integrating the data from this blood sample with the data from your stool sample yields various scores that give you a fuller picture of your health, including analysis of your gut microbiome, your cellular health, biological age, metabolism, immune response, and more.
Viome’s Health Intelligence service currently costs $229 at the time of writing (down from $599). As with their other test, if you follow Viome’s advice and retest to check your progress and improvements, the company will reduce your price for additional retesting. Using our INNERBODY coupon code brings your price down to $219. We believe this test is a great value.
For those who want to go next-level in their actions to improve overall health, Viome offers Precision Supplements Complete, a subscription plan based around 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
- All additional insights that come from the bloodwork in the Health Intelligence test
- Monthly supplies of supplements that go beyond prebiotics and probiotics to address broader health concerns more directly through nutrition and tailored specifically to your needs
- Automatic re-testing every 6 months to enable fine-tuning and adjusting of your personalized supplement formula as needed
What the monthly supplements contain
It depends on your unique health needs, based on testing. With Viome, we believe you begin this journey on solid footing possible because of the relative thoroughness of their testing and the sophistication of their data analysis.
Drawing from this dual testing of your stool and blood, Viome delivers dietary advice and also a customized formula likely containing a blend of:
- Prebiotics and probiotics
- Vitamins and minerals
- Important amino acids
- Herbs and food extracts
Each month, your shipment arrives with a month’s supply of your signature supplement. But every 6 months, Viome includes in this subscription a new Health Intelligence test kit. Testing every 6 months allows you to keep on top of the potentially changing needs of your body.
If you want to take positive action as a result of testing, both of Viome’s subscription plans provide great value building upon what you can learn from the testing options. Your choice would depend on budget. From our testing, there isn’t a more comprehensive or better devised package of its kind than this Precision Supplements Complete plan.
The Precision Supplements Complete subscription plan costs $199 per month.
When you test with Viome, the information you’ll receive in your report includes:
- The organisms present in your sample and insights based on their behavior within your body
- Personalized scores about your gut microbiome
- Dietary recommendations to balance your microbiome
Viome’s tests provide insights into how you could make small adaptations to your diet to improve your overall health. To carry out their analyses and make these recommendations, Viome uses two types of advanced science and technology applications:
- 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, the RNA is the functional output of this information. Without getting too much into the nitty gritty, our DNA is organized into functional units called genes. These genes are activated or ‘expressed’ through a process called transcription.
Therefore, metatranscriptomic sequencing involves sequencing the RNA of all the organisms present. This type of sequencing gives insights into the genes that are actually ‘on’ and active in the microbiome. 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 technology allows them to detect the presence of many types of microorganisms – including bacteria, fungi, and viruses – with a high resolution. This means they can be very precise about the species that exist in your gut.
To put it simply, Viome’s testing analyzes your community of trillions of gut microorganisms and doesn’t just detect what microbes were present in your gut at the time of testing. That’s valuable information, but Viome goes a step further by determining what roles the microorganisms are playing within your gut and focusing on the microorganisms that are definitely alive. What these microorganisms do in your body isn’t black and white; some microorganisms can generate both helpful and harmful biochemicals, and the biochemicals produced can also vary depending on the interaction between microorganisms. It’s a complex picture, indeed.
Viome’s artificial intelligence (which they call ‘Vie’) is how they analyze and interpret these findings in the context of the wealth of scientific data that exists about the microbiome. This machine learning allows them to gain an understanding of:
- What the presence and activity of different species in your gut are likely to mean for your health
- How these can be modified to improve your health
The more people who use the service, the more data Vie can analyze, thereby developing the pipeline, identifying new trends, and making it smarter all of the time.
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 a questionnaire covering important details about hip and waist measurements, lifestyle and some health information about nutrition, wellness and symptoms you might be experiencing.
Your answers to these questions help Vie make patterns and connections in order 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, which you attach to the toilet. Following the instructions, deposit your stool on to 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. The paper can be flushed down the toilet.
Insider Tip: Viome sends you two stool collection papers of different sizes in order to accommodate any toilet bowl. And 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.
If you ordered the Health Intelligence test, then you’ll take a blood finger prick test as well as the aforementioned stool test. You must fast for 8 hours before taking this blood test. And don’t worry – the finger prick is quick and painless.
Step 4: Mail your sample back to the lab
Next, you ship your kit to Viome and register it online. 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.
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 supplements routine. If you subscribed at one of the two possible subscription levels with Viome, then Viome will explain and begin to send you monthly shipments of supplements formulated to help optimize your specific gut health.
Step 6: 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.
As savvy consumers, this approach may sound like a money-making scheme familiar to us from other situations. However, in the case of Viome and your health, we wholly agree that retesting is very wise because our bodies are never static. Viome is giving sound advice here. Biologically, we’re always in a state of flux and our microbiome and nutritional needs change naturally as well. Multivitamin companies adjust their formulas based on age in an attempt to compensate for changing needs. Viome’s approach is simply much, much more refined and tailored to the specific needs of your body, with the acknowledgement that what’s best for you this year may not be ideal next year for numerous possible reasons. We encourage retesting as a way to stay on top of the needs of your gut.
Viome separates any identifiable information from your health data. All data is protected with multiple layers of encryption to ensure it is secure.
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 for the purpose of advancing scientific research. But the company will not do so unless you explicitly authorize it. Importantly, you’re asked for your preference at the outset in a clear, up-front way rather than being included or excluded by default and having to search for the means of changing your preference. This is the level of respect for privacy that we expect as consumers. (By the way, no matter your choice, you can always change your mind at a later time.)
We customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health service or product. For most products and services, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:
Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) to the customer? Is the quality of the product or service high enough that we would recommend it to loved ones without hesitation? Does the company have a high quality medical review board with oversight? Do the testing companies use the latest and most accurate testing technologies available? How accurate are the tests compared to alternatives?
Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the provider offer discounts or free services to our readers?
Customer Support: How well does the company provide information about its product or service? How clearly are options presented? How clearly are test results presented? How well does the testing company help you understand results and get treatment if necessary?
Privacy: Are all products sent in discreet packaging? Will your data be stored securely? Could your data ever be shared without your permission?
Speed: How fast will you receive your product or test results, from the moment you click “buy?” Are the waiting times stated by the company accurate and consistent?