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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.
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.
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:
- Order the test kit from Viome here.
- Viome sends a test kit to your home.
- You complete the test at home. (Don’t worry … it’s easy!)
- Then you mail your poop to Viome (yes, really) and record your metabolic results in their app.
- 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:
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):
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:
- The influence of the gut microbiome on obesity, metabolic syndrome, and gastrointestinal disease
- The link between the microbiome and autoimmunity
- Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome
- Microbiota associated with type 2 diabetes and its related complications
- From gut dysbiosis to altered brain function and mental illness: mechanisms and pathways
- Gut microbiota are related to Parkinson’s disease and clinical phenotype
- Symptomatic atherosclerosis is associated with an altered gut metagenome
- Reduction of Abeta amyloid pathology in APPPS1 transgenic mice in the absence of gut microbiota
- Microbiota-based model improves the sensitivity of fecal immunochemical test for detecting colonic lesions
- Indoles from commensal bacteria extend healthspan
- No guts no glory: Harvesting the microbiome of athletes
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!
Discussion (182 Comments)
After being disability the last three years I took on for the last two years educating myself through websites and Webinars like Wellness Mama and others how to heal naturally. Through these folks I learn about leaky gut and the microbiome. As a result I did the UBiome test six months ago and have still have not gotten the results back after sending in my sample. I hope this new technology improves so test results can be received in a more timely manner. It has also been through Wellness Mama’s and others wesite that I have now removed all toxins from my home and make all our household and personal care products, make my own Kumbucha and raw goat milk Kiefer and butter. I have been able to heal my leaky gut and no longer have a problem with gluten sensitivity by drinking a quart of homemade bone broth every day for three months. Of course now I only eat a plant based organic Non-GMO diet and no longer eat grains, dairy, or sugar. Hopefully in the next few years you can do the microbiome testing at home and immediately get the test results without waiting months to get the results. Who knows it could happen!!!
Thank Wellness Mama for all your doing to share your knowledge!
Paul keep in mind that the gut flora quickly adjust to its environment and the only way of maintaining the correct and healthy microbiome is by eating correctly which very few people know how to do.
We have been told lies about everything and especially about what to eat an how to eat.
There is only one type of diet that is healthy for humans and carbohydrates are not it brother. Not even in small amounts.
Love and light.
Darko, if you actually read my comment you would know what I said. I only eat a plant based organic Non-GMO diet. I eat NO Grains ( that’s carbohydrates), NO daily, expect goat’s milk, which has casein two unlike cows milk which is casein one and NO sugar. Which in that did you get that I eat carbs??? I get all my veggies directly from local Organic farmers so I know exactly what has been had to the food I eat. I have removed all toxins from my home, make all our household and personal care products, I filter my water even my shower water. I have gotten off almost all my meds, except insulin and the heavy duty pain meds for my 24/7 Migraine type head pain. I hope to get the result of my microbiome test soon so I can persue other test from a Functional medicine doctor and maybe one day I will get to the bottom of all the health issues causing me to be disabled. If be living the clean eating and environment live style for a little over a year now and I know the natural way can take 3 to 5 years to see some results. Even my doctor’s wish they were persuing as clean a living and eating regime as I am doing.
I think the mention of overcoming a gluten sensitivity leads one to think you’re eating gluten, even tho later you say you’re not eating grains. So happy for you to be doing so well. Yes, being our own researcher is a headache and a half, but the results are so worth it because no one knows our bodies like we do. Keep up the good work, and I’m praying your disability will be gone!
Paul I did not want to offend you.
Plants are sugars. The cellulose we call the fiber is non digestible complex carbohydrate. Plant energy source is carbohydrate (glucose and fructose) so the energy that you gat from plants is basically sugar with traces of protein and none-saturated oils.
When you eat plants raw, you get nothing out of them but toxic protein we call medicinal since it alters the cellular action.
When you heat them up, you burst the cellulose fiber an carbohydrates get released feeding yo sugar.
Everything we were told about our health an our diet is manipulated lie brother. You will not get ri of the insulin as long as you consume this type of food.
Love and light.
Darko, I am curious then, what is it you eat? It sounds like you don’t eat vegetables, and from your earlier comment, grains are out as well. You mention everything we are told about are health and diet is a lie, but you don’t mention what you believe we should eat.
Jessica, I do not eat any cooked plants or fruits. I basically eat animal based products in a raw state or as raw as possible, (eggs, any kind of meat, milk and dairy products, some fruits and occasional salad.
I hydrate with water that contains not refined raw sea salt.
All my health problems are gone an I appear younger and younger as time roles on.
This is a part of my Self Healers Protocol.
Love and light
Paul, Congratulations on healing your leaky gut!! I still sufffer from it, going on 4 years now. I tried making bone broth but it always smells so bad I cannot eat it.
Do you have a recipe I can follow. I followed popular online ones using an Instant pot pressure cooker, but my broth still has the “gamey” animal taste to it which I can’t get down.
Any other tips you’ve found to heal leaky gut QUICK?
Have you baked your raw bones first? Brown them in the oven (open the windows) then put in your crock pot. Gamey is gone.
I can’t find the cost anywhere on their website, even when I click on your special link. It just sends me around in circles….Halp!
Katie, will this work for Canadians? Thank you kindly.
Katie - Wellness Mama
They are working on getting it live in Canada. I’ll keep you posted.
Katie, would you know if this is available for Canadians? Thank you kindly.
Lisa in Vancouver
Katie - Wellness Mama
They’re working on making it available in Canada but it isn’t there yet.
This is so great! Going to start saving for this – thank you for the recommendation. And thank you for all your awesome research in general.
I also have the MTHFR gene and have found a lot of confusing and conflicting information out there about it. I’d love it if you’d do a podcast or a post focusing on this mutation (no pressure, just thought it was worth a shot to make a request).
But stool tests really don’t show as much as an organic acid test. But hope soon we can just get all tests ourselves.
Is there a contact number for them? I’d like to know if there is a plan where I could get the stool samples done, but have to upload pictures of what I am eating and have daily interaction. Thank you
This sounds fantastic, and I would love to have access to such testing. But I have some serious concerns with their ‘plan.’
– Why no mention or connection to proper dietary foundations like Weston A. Price or similar?
– Why is the dietary advice shrouded?
– Do you have any inside information on that?
– Listing Michael Pollan as a reference marker is a scary sign.
– Mainstream media and corporate leadership team looks too much like typical big business.
– Lots of very slick information, slick technology, slick website, etc. Looks a bit too slick.
I would love the testing, but they are trying to sell dietary guidance with ZERO information about what that guidance is. I would love to hear if you have some insights on all of that. Did I miss something?
Katie - Wellness Mama
Great question. I’ll work on adding more about this. Basically, there isn’t any basic dietary “plan” as the advice is very personalized and based on the markers in a person’s body. So a person may find that he or she needs to avoid a food like spinach or avocado for a short time to heal a marker in the gut or to eat more carbs for prebiotics to feed the gut.
Super exciting! I’m looking forward to seeing your test results since Viome does not have a sample report to view on their website.
This video from Ben Greenfield will walk you through what you will see from the tests and what kind of recommendations you will see.
I watched the video of the Viome results from Ben Greenfield (Great find Naveen!). An excellent example; although he is somewhat superhuman 😉
Viome’s recommendations to ‘indulge’ in flaxseed oil and avoid butter shocked me. Both of those recommendations are in serious conflict with your guidance, Ben’s guidance, as well as the guidance of the Weston A. Price Foundation and many others. I found many things in their guidance that concerned me. Still amazing to have that data and app, but the advice looks seriously flawed. My full concerns are on my site here: http://www.otezok.com/home-testing/
For me, the test is still invaluable, but I worry about people blindly following Viome’s advice. Doing so just effectively moves the leash from your doctor to Viome.
Katie - Wellness Mama
This is a great point and I appreciate you bringing it up. I agree that some of their advice is different than what Ben or I or WAPF would normally recommend and I don’t think some of the recommendations are good long term. Nor do I think we should ever outsource these decisions to anyone- doctor or test. That said, I do think that there are times that avoiding certain foods (even healthy ones) can be good. I’m currently off dairy, including butter, (Viome and a recent IgG test recommended this) and I feel great, but hope to add dairy back in soon.
I definitely agree that we should not outsource our decisions. I think this test can empower people to make their own decisions, as long as they don’t blindly follow the advice. It would be awesome if you could get some insight on Viome’s decision-making.
For example, many people that think they are lactose intolerant have no problems with raw milk or no problems with A2 milk. In such cases, it is not actually the dairy, but the sourcing and/or processing. Another example is with some people that believe they are gluten intolerant or have a gluten allergy, but are instead having a reaction to glyphosate. Those are two very common situations in the U.S. which we can sometimes discover easily by testing good sources.
Viome actually seems to potentially cover such situations, as they have “nutritional challenges” to test your body’s responses to certain foods. That sounds fantastic, but again, I am not sure how they are reaching their conclusions.
I look forward to hearing more about it.
Since we have never been told the truth about the workings of our body, we are completely lost and none is more lost then the doctors themselves.
There is only one healthy diet for all of the humanity and this diet I call the food of God. Such food promotes the beneficial microbiome so we do not have to even worry about it.
Darko, can you outline what is meant by “the food of God?” Based on this comment and your comments below, you have my curiosity up! Gleaned from your comments, this way of eating does not include carbohydrates, neither in the form of raw, nor cooked vegetables. Is it based then on animal products such as meat, fish, cheese, and milks?
Would be interested to know what you yourself eat in a typical meal, or even a typical day.
Thank you for your time.
Tinny if you have noticed, there are no chronic diseases present in the natural animal world of the wilderness.
This is because the animals in the wild eat the food of God. They eat their food the way God prepared it for them to eat.
Only humans and domestic animals suffer from chronic health problems. This is because we eat manipulated food by heat and processing.
The food completely changes when heated and no one pays any attention to this.
I wrote a book about it. Our health problems are directly related to the “food” we eat.
Change the food and your body will heal.
Love and light
With all due respect, wild animals and other forms of nature suffer from many of the same chronic and/or life-threatening illnesses that we do. Sometimes, they even have their own that we aren’t subject to.
I totally am with you on eating a healthy diet free of processed food and the like, yet to say that the natural world is disease and chronic disease free thanks to God’s bounty is going further than I can agree with.
I wish you all the best.