Viome review – What’s hidden in your gut?

viome-review

Viome Review Summary

Viome is a health testing company that provides at-home testing kits focusing on gut and digestive health. Learn more in our Viome review!

Nebula Genomics

Results
Price
Interface

Summary

Viome sequences the gut microbiome to provide personalized nutrtion recommendations although these tests can be costly, especially as routine testing is recommended.

4.3

Edited by Christina Swords, Ph.D.

7 Facts from our Viome Review

  1. Viome location: Head Office in Bellevue, Washington, USA. Viome’s laboratory is CLIA-certified and located at Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA
  2. Products: “Gut Intelligence” and “Health Intelligence” services
  3. How it works: Viome uses RNA sequencing technology to identify a customer’s gut microbes and use that information to assess overall gut health
  4. Ordering: You can order online at Viome.com or online retailers like Amazon and Groupon. 
  5. Reports: Both tests return gut microbiome results. “Health Intelligence” also reports on the expression of a selection of the customer’s genes. From this information, several personalized nutrition recommendations reports are provided.
  6. Viome Cost:”Gut Intelligence” – $149 , “Health Intelligence” – $349
  7. Complementary products: Nebula Genomics (Whole Genome Sequencing with weekly updated reports)

Viome Introduction

This is a review of Viome, a health testing company that provides at-home testing kits focusing on gut and digestive health. Specifically, they aim to analyze the microbiome in order to provide optimal health recommendations. Viome’s Gut Intelligence Test is available in the United States (excluding New York), Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The Health Intelligence test is available only in the United States (excluding New York) at this time.

Viome was founded in 2016 to provide commercial gut microbiome testing that results in personalized diet and wellness recommendations. Recently, the company has expanded into gene expression testing from human cells, which measures the expression of several thousand genes, and is advertised as a good compliment to the gut microbiome tests.

A person’s microbiome consists of all microorganisms that live in and on the human body (like bacteria and archaea). The gut microbiome is traditionally thought to be responsible for defending against pathogens, breaking down indigestible content, and helping with intestinal health. Recent studies have suggested that the gut microbiome is also linked and the immune system and various brain functions. However, gut microbiome research is a fairly new field, and a number of experts caution consumers that many tests “can only provide limited information for now” and may not be ready to make robust recommendations for optimal health.

Each Viome test includes sample collection tools, written instructions, and prepaid return-shipping labels. The company produces the Viome test kits and sends them to their own CLIA-certified lab. Customers can expect results within 4 weeks. 

Results are delivered to customers through Viome’s secure platform from any device, or through their mobile app (available as an Apple App Store download, or is available for download on Google Play).

Before you sequence your gut bacteria, you should sequence your own genome! Nebula Genomics offers the most affordable 30x Whole Genome Sequencing. This is the most complete DNA test that decodes 100% of your DNA. Whole Genome Sequencing will enable you to learn more about your ancestry, and health than any other DNA test! Click here to learn more!

Review of Viome’s Science: RNA Sequencing 

Let’s first review Viome science and technology that is used for testing.

Viome differs from other gut testing services (and genetic sequencing services) in that it uses RNA rather than DNA in its analyses. Viome refers to it as advanced metatranscriptome sequencing.  

DNA contains all of a person’s genetic information and in general, each cell in the body contains the same genetic information. Yet, different areas of the body only need to use (or express the genes from) certain bits of the DNA sequence. Cells achieve this specificity by using DNA as a template to make smaller bits of RNA, which go on to make only the molecules that are needed. 

By sequencing RNA, Viome selects and sequences only a small part of the full human genome. Specifically, this method selects the “active” parts of the genome that are expressed. The company sequences the microbes present in the customer’s gut as well as some of the genes in the customer’s mitochondria and blood.

RNA sequencing has some interesting advantages, but also comes with some drawbacks. It can be difficult to extract and sequence high-quality RNA from samples. Additionally, RNA sequence databases (especially for microbes and bacteria) are not comprehensive, and in some cases can’t accurately differentiate between the RNA of several microbes within the same sample. These issues can complicate and even compromise the accuracy of a customer’s results.

Review of Viome Gut Microbiome Testing

The main service offered by Viome is their “Gut Intelligence” test, an at home gut microbiome test. The human gut contains an enormous range of gut bacteria and microbes (= microbial richness) that perform a wide range of tasks in the body. Each person’s gut microbiome is unique, and the specific microbes present are linked to the person’s diet and overall health. The goal of the Viome gut test is to identify the customer’s active gut microbes, diagnose the customer’s gut health (including gut lining health which is important for the absorption of nutrients and immune response and other gut issues), and ultimately make diet recommendations based on the results. 

A small example provided on Viome’s website of one type of assessment Viome can provide related to “Digestive Efficiency”
A small example provided on Viome’s website of one type of assessment Viome can provide related to “Digestive Efficiency” 

The Gut Intelligence Service analyzes the customer’s stool test to determine the bacteria and microbes living within the customer’s gut. These results are fed into Viome’s proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to give customers over 20 different health insight scores evaluating things like digestive efficiency, inflammatory activity, and metabolic fitness. 

Unlike some diagnostic testing, gut microbiome testing is still very new and is extremely complex. In many cases, the presence or absence of certain microbes in a sample is not enough to make any strong statement about an individual’s health. Viome’s algorithms cross-reference large collections of microbiome data coupled with the personal information of other customers to make its recommendations.

It’s important to note that according to section 38 of Viome’s Terms of Service, “THE SERVICE IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR, AND DOES NOT PROVIDE, MEDICAL ADVICE OR CLAIM TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT AND DISEASE OR ILLNESS. THE SERVICE AND THE INFORMATION ON VIOME WEBSITE IS PROVIDED … WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT VIOME IS NOT ENGAGED IN RENDERING MEDICAL ADVICE OR RECOMMENDATION AND IS NOT TO BE USED FOR THE DIRECTION OF OR CARE OF INDIVIDUAL PATIENTS UNLESS OTHERWISE EXPLICITLY SPECIFIED OR AGREED.”

Review of Viome Human Gene Expression Testing

Viome has recently started offering a “Health Intelligence” service designed to complement their Gut Intelligence test. The customer provides a blood sample from which thousands of active genes are sequenced, both from the blood itself, and the customer’s mitochondria. Compared to the Full Genomic Sequencing offered by Nebula Genomics, this product provides far less information. The idea is that RNA sequencing could instead characterize only the active portions of the customer’s genome. Viome claims that their product is a good alternative to DNA tests, and can help understand the customer’s energy levels.

The mitochondria are the part of a cell that packages and provides the cell with energy. It has its own RNA sequence, and by looking at certain expressed mitochondrial genes, Viome creates several metrics like Mitochondrial Health and Biological Age. Likewise, RNA from the customer’s blood is sequenced and analyzed in order to provide additional metrics like Cellular Health and Stress Response. 

The metrics reported are all Viome’s proprietary metrics, meant to give qualitative or a broad-strokes idea of the customer’s health. They are provided with the understanding that “THE SERVICE AND THE INFORMATION ON VIOME WEBSITE IS PROVIDED FOR EDUCATIONAL, INFORMATIONAL, AND ENJOYMENT PURPOSES ONLY”, and are not to be taken as medical advice.

Taking a Viome Test

Viome offers two at-home test kits. 

Both Viome kits include the Gut Intelligence test (stool sample). The Health Intelligence kit also sequences the customer’s RNA in their blood sample.
Both Viome kits include the Gut Intelligence test (stool sample). The Health Intelligence kit also sequences the customer’s RNA in their blood sample.

Inside the package, customers will find an activation code that is needed to register a customer’s kit to their online account via their Viome login. They are also required to answer a health and lifestyle-related questionnaire. These responses allow the Viome health team to provide personalized support and health recommendations. It is important to note that company’s Terms of Service state that “while this information might point to a possible diagnosis or treatment, it should always be confirmed and supplemented by specific medical and clinical testing results.”

Both tests require a stool sample (which some customers may find unpleasant), while the “Health Intelligence” test also requires a small blood sample taken from the finger. After the samples are taken, customers use the provided postage-paid shipping label to return the samples to Viome’s lab to be analyzed. 

Customers receive their results less than 4 weeks after the lab receives the kit. Viome analyzes the data using their proprietary AI algorithms which output your health and wellness results and recommendations. Results are made available through the company’s website and mobile app.

An example of the many foods a Viome test will include. The major selling point of the Viome kits is their foods and supplements recommendations.
An example of the many foods a Viome test will include. The major selling point of the Viome kits is their foods and supplements recommendations.

While a typical report includes personalized recommendations regarding a wide variety of healthy foods and a large list of the microbes living in your gut, they do not make your raw data available or give much detail about how their recommendations are arrived at. This will be discussed more in section 6: A Viome Report.

Review of Viome Products

Viome offers 2 products to assess your gut microbiome health and mitochondrial health.  

Gut Intelligence Test

TestMeasuresCollection MethodPrice
Gut MicrobiomeSequences RNA of the microbes living in your gutStool Sample$149
Currently only available in the United States (excluding New York), Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the United Kingdom

Health Intelligence Test

TestMeasuresCollection MethodPrice
Gut MicrobiomeSequences RNA of the microbes living in your gutStool Sample
$349
Human Gene ExpressionSequences RNA of the cells in your blood, including mitochondrial cellsFinger Prick Blood Draw
Currently only available in the United States (excluding New York)

Review of A Viome Report

Overview 

Viome emphasizes the diet recommendations each test provides. Reports come with a long list of foods grouped into three categories (Superfoods, Enjoy Foods, and an “Avoid” list of foods) as well as Gut Health metrics. Both the Gut Intelligence and Health Intelligence tests provide these results, though they may use different data to make these recommendations. 

The number of foods and metrics included is quite large. The example reports given on the Viome website for just Food Recommendations and Gut Health add up to 75 pages, which may be somewhat overwhelming. The search function on the free Android and iOS apps can help customers sort through all of this information. 

Some of the most popular insights a personalized action plan for an individual’s diet based on their gut microbe results. The action plan provides sections on:

  • Superfood list
  • Enjoy foods list
  • Minimize foods list
  • Avoid foods list
  • Supplement list

Review of the Viome Gut Intelligence Test

In addition to food recommendations, Viome helps with weight loss and other health goals. To achieve this goal, the Gut Intelligence test gives science-based qualitative assessments of gut-specific health and “pathways” like the activity level of a customer’s Methane Gas Production Pathway. An example of this result is shown below.

A type of assessment Viome can provide related to “Methane Gas Production Pathways”
Example of the Viome Gut Intelligence Test report.

These results allow customers to approximate how “good” these metrics are compared to other customers’ results. However, since these are proprietary metrics, it is difficult to know what “good” means exactly.

An example of one of these metrics is the Intestinal Barrier Health score. This score could help customers diagnose a leaky gut, in which a compromised gut barrier leads to a bloodstream infected with harmful material like toxins and bacteria.

Review of the Viome Health Intelligence Test

The Health Intelligence report includes everything in the Gut Intelligence test, as well as a selection of additional mitochondria and cell-based metrics. Below is a sample of Mitochondrial Health results.

An example of some of the results of the Health Intelligence test. Mitochondrial Health data shows results from multiple tests. Customers would need to purchase the Health Intelligence test each time.
An example of some of the results of the Health Intelligence test. Mitochondrial Health data shows results from multiple tests. Customers would need to purchase the Health Intelligence test each time.

Potential customers should note that the majority of these metrics are reported as the percentage of other Viome customers they tested. Since these metrics are calculated using Viome’s proprietary algorithms, it’s not clear what “better” means exactly.

Payments and Insurance

Viome tests cost either $149 or $349 snd are likely not covered by insurance. The company accepts credit/debit and PayPal.

Review of Viome Privacy Policy

By submitting samples, customers agree to “transfer and assign to Viome and its assigns and successors all right, title, and interest in and to the Samples, Self-Reported Information, analysis, Test Results, Sample Data, Test Data, and other data derived therefrom.”

Viome’s privacy policy describes how they will use customers’ data. Through the initial questionnaire, Sensitive Data is collected which may include medical facts, records, racial or ethnic origins, political or religious beliefs, or sexuality. Personal information is not shared with insurers or any third-party groups without the customer’s explicit consent. 

In general, data will be de-identified and made anonymous. Data provided by the customer is used for the purposes of service and quality improvement, research, or other business operations. In particular, the Viome diagnosis algorithm will use the results of your test, coupled with the answers from your questionnaire to help analyze other customer’s tests.

Viome in the News

Viome Reviews

Viome Gut Intelligence test reviews on Amazon: 3.2/5

Viome has provided services to over 100,000 customers yet very few customers have provided Viome testing reviews for the product. Among the positive reviews, many customers describe being satisfied with a large number of recommendations and were occasionally surprised by some of the suggestions. Among the negative reviews, many customers were disappointed with receiving generic diet advice, longer than described wait times, and poor customer service.

Review of Viome Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Taking samples is fairly simple (though some customers may find the stool sample to be particularly unpleasant)
  • The iOS and Android apps make searching through Viome results easy
  • Each test provides lots of recommendations and metrics

Cons

  • The validity of the Viome results provided are questionable
  • Customers may not find some of the metrics useful
  • Proprietary metrics and data analysis may make it difficult for medical professionals to interpret results
  • Costly, especially considering that Viome recommenders customers retake the test every few months

Nebula Genomics

We finish our Viome review with a comparison to Nebula Genomics.

Services offered by Nebula Genomics and Viome are very different. However, customers interested in their gut and cellular health may also be interested in their predisposition to certain illnesses and sensitivities that a Nebula Genomics test can provide. Nebula Genomics offers the most affordable 30x Whole Genome Sequencing service. 

Similar to Viome, the Nebula Genomics test does not provide medical advice. However, our 30x Whole Genome Sequencing data is produced in CLIA/CAP-accredited laboratories. Thus, physicians and genetic counselors can use our data to provide medical advice. Individuals who believe they are at risk for a genetic disorder should consult a healthcare provider before taking DNA sequencing tests.   

ViomeNebula Genomics
Testing methodRNA from gut microbes (stool sample), human RNA (blood sample)DNA; Whole Genome Sequencing (all 20,000 genes and regulatory regions)
ReportingGut microbes present, proprietary “health scores”Genetic predispositions
Ancestry reportingNoYes
Data accessNo data that can be accessedYes (FASTQ, BAM, and VCF files)
Cost$149 / $349$0 – $299
Aid for making medical decisionsNo, and data minimally useful in consultation with physicians.No, but CLIA-certified lab data can be used in consultation with genetic counselors and physicians.
Nebula Genomics vs. Viome

Learn more about gut health with our other reviews:

If you’re interested in at home lab tests and products, you may also be interested in:

  • Biohm (gut health, including bacteria and fungi)
  • DayTwo (gut health, personalized recommendations for blood glucose optimization)
  • Onegevity (gut health and personalized recommendations)
  • Prevagen (a supplement designed to improve memory)
  • Psomagen (gut health and gene test)
  • Rootine (personalized supplement and vitamins based on DNA test)
  • Sun Genomics (gut microbiome testing and personalized probiotics for adults, children, and babies)
  • Thryve (personalized probiotics)

Another supplement that you might be interested in is Tru Niagen or Elysium Health, which are supplements that may be able to slow down aging!

Other reviews include Curology (personalized skincare), Plexaderm (skin anti-aging), Yoga Burn (weight loss) and Medishare, which may be able to help with emergency health bills through cost sharing ministry.

Did you like our Viome review? You can read more reviews on our blog and check out our complete guide to the best DNA test kit and other home tests.