How to Test Your Gut Microbiome (At Home Without a Doctor)

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How to test your microbiome at home without a doctor
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If you have been a Wellness Mama reader for very long then you know my story and how it took me over seven years and eight doctors to finally figure out I had Hashimoto’s and start to find answers. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to get testing, even when you think you might know what is wrong.

That’s why I’m excited about emerging research and innovative new companies that are working to bring comprehensive testing to our homes. The best part? No doctor or blood test required!

Personalized Medicine: The Future of Health?

If you heard the recent 100th episode of The Wellness Mama Podcast, you know that I strongly feel that there is not a single perfect diet that works for everyone or a supplement that will fix all your problems. We all need sleep and community and sunshine, but the rest is very personalized based upon each individual’s needs.

What works wonderfully for one person may make someone else feel worse. I feel great when I take a lot of magnesium. Some people experience low blood pressure from taking it. I don’t feel good if I eat a lot of carbs. Some people feel amazing on a relatively high carb diet.

At the end of the day, we each have to figure out the foods, supplements, and lifestyle factors that are best for us.

But how?

Thankfully, today we don’t have to wait on a doctor to get insight into our health. There are now services with on-call doctors that are only a text or a call away.

Even without a doctor, we can do testing like 23 and Me, which shows our genes. This is helpful, but most of us aren’t geneticists and don’t know what the results mean. (Although you can get advice from a geneticist by listening my Wellness Mama Podcast … see episode 136 and episode 135). I know I have MAO-A and an MTHFR mutation, and thanks to research I’m able to make some dietary changes based on this, but the research is still new. It also only shows half of the picture.

Gut Metatranscriptome & Microbiome Analysis

I’m super excited about a new kind of testing that allows us to have a deeper picture of what is happening inside the gut. We’ve all heard the studies about the importance of the gut and how it impacts every single aspect of our lives, and now we can actually get a glimpse of what is happening inside the gut and know how to impact our own gut environment.

Microorganisms Rule Our Body

There are trillions of microorganisms in the gut (about 40 trillion to be exact). As humans, we have more bacterial cells than human cells and these bacteria drastically affect our lives on a daily basis.

These crucial gut organisms help us digest food, produce chemicals and substances within the body, control infections by pathogens, regulate the immune system, and even control emotions. (Ever have a gut feeling?)

Viome, a company I’m about to tell you more about, explains on their website:

Studies consistently link these microorganisms — which make up your gut microbiome — to many chronic conditions, including diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, coronary artery disease, psoriasis, lupus, and even autism.

Basically, if we want to be healthy and happy … our gut bacteria needs to be healthy and happy too!

The Science of Microbiome Composition

Flashback to freshman biology …

Every living organism produces RNA molecules from their DNA. Tests like this one sequence all of the RNA in the stool (poop) to help quantify all of the living microorganisms in the gut (bacteria, viruses, bacteriophages, archaea, fungi, yeast, parasites, and more) at the species and strain level.

The end result?

A more in-depth view of your gut microbiome than has ever been available before. Instead of just looking at bacteria and parasites, we can now sequence RNA in the gut. The nerd in me is so excited about this technology, but even if you aren’t interested in the science, I think you’ll be excited about how technology like this can improve all of our lives!

The Function of Metabolites in the Gut

Identifying the microorganisms in your gut is important, but understanding their function is what lets us use them to our advantage.

Viome explains:

This is because the microbes in your gut produce thousands of chemicals, called metabolites, that affect your overall wellness. Some of these metabolites are beneficial to health, such as B-vitamins and short chain fatty acids. Others can be harmful, such as Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which is linked to coronary artery disease.

This variation in gut microbes may explain in large part why people have such individualized needs when it comes to health.

Gut Microbiome Testing to Improve Health

Analyzing the genes that microbes express lets us identify which metabolites they produce. This helps determine their role in your body’s ecosystem. But all of that isn’t helpful if it is just data. When we understand metabolites, we can also understand how to affect them with food, lifestyle, and supplements to change the gut bacteria.

This is the first time we have the ability to fine-tune the function of gut microbiome. This helps minimize production of harmful metabolites and maximize the production of beneficial ones.

The metabolites in our gut give us a shortcut to know what to eat and what to take to improve wellness in the fastest way possible.

How to Test Gut Microbiome at Home

Now for why I’m so excited … about testing poop! (It’s not just because I’m a mom of boys, either.)

Until recently, most gut testing cost thousands of dollars and had to be ordered through a doctor. Testing also provided an incomplete picture of gut health and used the old 16S method of sequencing.

The 16S method analyzes the bacteria in the gut, but as I showed above, this is an incomplete picture. To fully analyze the bacteria, viruses, bacteriophages, archaea, fungi, yeast, parasites, and other organisms, a more complete testing is needed.

Viome: Gut Testing in Your Own Bathroom

That is until a company changed all that. Viome uses an advanced form of testing to analyze gut health and provide personalized recommendations of supplements, diet, and lifestyle factors.

Viome does a specialized form of testing called metatranscriptome sequencing. It looks at the RNA, metabolites, and the deeper picture of the gut.

Here’s how Viome is better than the old 16S method:

  • identifies all bacteria and all other living organisms in your gut (16S can only identify a fraction)
  • pinpoints down to the species and strain level (not just the genus)
  • measures biochemical/microbe activities (16S could not)
  • less variation in results
  • identifies missing metabolites

Basically Viome gives a much more complete and precise picture you can actually act on with dietary and lifestyle changes.

What Viome Gut Tests Reveal

Viome looks at the gut in all the ways I just explained. It also does a metabolic intelligence test (that you can do from home). This helps you gauge your blood sugar, insulin levels, stress responses, and more by looking at urine pH, saliva pH, blood sugar, heart rate, and other metrics.

Specifically, the test will help you learn:

  • how to maximize beneficial microbial species that boost gut health (and minimize the problematic ones)
  • which missing beneficial bacteria (probiotics) your gut needs
  • whether you are lacking good metabolites (and which undesirable ones are present)
  • which prebiotics you need for the foundation of gut health
  • the ideal ratio of proteins, carbs, and fats you need in your individualized diet
  • dietary recommendations for achieving healthy weight, energy, focus, and well-being
  • ways to optimize digestion and absorption of nutrients in your gut

Here’s How the Test Works:

  1. Order the test kit from Viome here.
  2. Viome sends a test kit to your home.
  3. You complete the test at home. (Don’t worry … it’s easy!)
  4. Then you mail your poop to Viome (yes, really) and record your metabolic results in their app.
  5. A few weeks later, Viome provides personalized analysis of your gut and recommendations to help you improve chronic conditions, feel better, and keep your gut microorganisms happy.

What My Viome Test Revealed

I’m so excited about this and other emerging technology that helps us all do our own research. With every chronic disease on the rise, these are problems we need to address right away. Companies and tests like Viome help us understand our own personalized needs in a way that helps us improve our lives in a drastic way.

I should also admit that I was skeptical when I first got my results and saw some of the foods that it suggested I should avoid. After all, some of the foods are ones I’d consider objectively “healthy,” and I wasn’t sure why I should avoid them.

Interestingly, after some further genetic testing, Viome was right on and the foods it recommended I avoid (including most sources of saturated fat) match up with my genes!

A Look Inside My Gut

I like that Viome shows overall scores for gut health, metabolic health and other metrics so you can see progress:

Wellness mama Viome gut Score

But the app and portal also give practical interpretation and food recommendations. These recommendations lined up with what I’ve noticed from my time on the AIP diet and also from my genetic testing. As I mentioned, I was initially surprised by some of the foods it suggested that I avoid, but I noticed a BIG difference when I removed them and they lined up with my most recent genetic tests as well.

These are some of my “Foods to Enjoy” according to Viome (not showing proteins and fats):

Wellness Mama Viome Recommendations

Viome is a new technology using advanced testing developed at Los Alamos Lab (that was originally part of national security). I first learned about it when I met their founder, Naveen Jain, at a recent health event and was very impressed with the technology behind it. It has become popular very quickly, so at times there has been a waiting list to take the test, but you can learn more about Viome at this link.

P.S. Testing Is Not the Only Way

Insight from testing is helpful especially for those with chronic conditions. If testing isn’t for you right now, here are 7 totally free ways to start improving health (including gut health).

More Research & Why I Care

Gut health is intricately tied to all aspects of health. If you’re interested in the science and emerging connection between gut health to overall health, here are a few recent studies for further reading:

Update: My Viome Test Results Explained

Viome’s lead medical researcher, Dr. Helen Messier, was kind enough to shoot the following video explaining my test results and breaks down the app recommendations based on my own gut bacteria. She also explains how the food recommendations work and how to use Viome most effectively.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD/Lemonaid Health. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Are you as excited about this new technology as I am? Ever tried any at-home tests like this before? Weigh in below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


182 responses to “How to Test Your Gut Microbiome (At Home Without a Doctor)”

  1. Dannielle Avatar

    Katie, I’m interested to know how you are feeling about VIOME these days? this post is pretty old , and as I have just received results, Im wondering if you took any stock in the nutrient / supplement suggestions they are making .
    I have used just thrive probiotics on and off for a couple years , and I guess im wondering your opinion on these custom supplements and probiotics they are offering. I can’t seem to find much on their efficacy, quality , anything really. The idea of personalized pre/probiotics sounds great, but it can’t help feeling like it’s a gimmic. Would love to hear an opinion from a source I trust !

  2. scott Avatar


    Can you do the Viome Test if your outside AMerica?


    Scott Blagrove

  3. Susan Avatar

    I just ordered the Viome Gut Intelligence Test and I can’t wait to take the test and see what my results are!

  4. Denise Avatar

    Me too. I’ve had endometriosis since puberty and it’s just been downhill from then (anxiety, depression, adenomyosis, digestive issues for YEARS, fibromyalgia…..—-BUT I am super POSITIVE about life and am just HAPPY to wake up every day). I have actually be recently diagnosed with ORTHOREXIA (fear of food and many other symptoms) because I have spent YEARS trying to heal myself through food. I have received so much misinformation over the years and tried every healthy diet on the planet – now, I have no idea what to eat! I believe that the stress of trying to figure out what to eat has actually caused more damage than the food itself…sheesh….Now, I have no idea what to eat and am definitely open to suggestions :). Blessings to you and a cancer-free future!

    1. Christina Avatar

      Wow I can totally relate. One time I ate only apples for several days because I was afraid I might be allergic to everything else. I didn’t use soap in the shower or anything trying to eliminate all possible allergens. Keep your chin up!

  5. Lesleigh Avatar

    …and their reviews are awful. I searched them out as a result of viewing the Interconnected webinar, but will not book even their offered discount.

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