July 22, 2020
Viome Gut Testing:
Gut testing a great way to get an up close and personal understanding of our health. There are tons of different kinds of tests out there, but some of the most rapidly-advancing are the ones that test the microbiome. Today I’ll be reviewing one such microbiome test, called Viome.
What’s a microbiome, and why does it matter? I’m glad you asked. Per Viome’s website, “a person’s microbiome is the entire collection of microbes living in and on the body. The microbiome forms a living layer over your skin and parts of the inside of your body, including the lungs and the digestive tract, from the mouth all the way down to the colon. When the microbes in your gut are out of balance, your body can’t absorb nutrients the way it should. The result of this is inflammation, the root of almost every chronic disease.”
The root of almost every chronic disease! When Hippocrates said “all disease begins in the gut” more than 2000 years ago, he was clearly ahead of his time. I personally paid very little attention to my gut health until I started to learn more about strengthening my immune system’s response to my thyroid. And that was only a couple of months ago… so nearly 34 years of total disregard for a major system in control of so much of our health! That old mindset has since been put to rest, and I decided to order a Viome gut testing kit for myself.
This article will cover:
- How to get a test kit
- Conducting the test (AKA, the real reason you’re reading this)
- Submitting the test for processing
- How Viome delivers results
How to get a test kit
Viome’s website is full of informational science on exactly how their kits work to analyze and identify the trillions of bacteria that call your gut home. Seriously, if anyone wants to go down a gut health science rabbit hole, this website is where it’s at. For me, the shopping section of the site was user-friendly, and since a physician order isn’t needed to order the gut testing kit, it’s available as-needed. The kit I purchased is the Gut Intelligence service, which provides “comprehensive insights about your gut microbiome that empower you to make the best lifestyle and nutrition choices for you.” That promise aligned perfectly with my overall health goals, so I caught it on sale for Father’s Day and got it in the mail not long after.
How to conduct the test
Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. In case you didn’t know, gut testing requires a sample of your poo. So if you’ve decided to commit to this test, get ready to be slightly grossed out. Honestly, it’s not that bad, and it doesn’t take very long, so the actual collection process is over quickly.
The kit comes with very clear directions. Step one is to open the two handy dandy paper shields that come in different sizes. Choose one based on the size and shape of your toilet seat. Fasten the shield across the seat, over the bowl, with attached tape tabs. They are NOT flushable. I repeat, the shields are not flushable. When I first heard about this process, I assumed the paper would resemble a public restroom toilet seat cover. You know – the flimsy, biodegradable kind that’s easy to flush. Not the case. Pro tip: before the collection process starts, have a trash bag nearby. Once you’ve collected your sample and cleared your … deposit off of the paper shield, you can stuff the shield in the trash bag, throw it in the outside bin and shake off the whole ordeal.
Step two is to go number two. Once the paper is fitted, well, you go. Yep! On the paper. Collect your sample EXACTLY as the directions say, with no deviation whatsoever. The kit provides a collection instrument, which looks like a shallow scoop with a lid attached to the handle. Place the scoop in the provided test tube filled with solution, then secure the lid. Next, you shake the tube in 2 minute intervals with 30 second pauses. This allows the solution inside to mix with the sample. Pro tip: have your phone timer ready on the 2 minute mark, so you don’t have to scramble for it while holding a tube of poo.
Submitting the test for processing
Step three is the easiest step! Congratulate yourself on making it this far, then put the tube into the provided return packaging. In case you wondered, a hard plastic box in the return mailer protects the tube from damage during transit. Then the mailer goes in the mailbox, and the gross part of your job is done! Lastly, you’ll complete a few questionnaires. Just download the Viome app, register your kit number, and then answer all the health questionnaires provided. The app is intuitive and very easy to use, and questionnaire sections include personal, wellness, nutrition, symptoms and lifestyle. These gather all kinds of information about you that helps with processing. Be sure to complete these as soon as you can, or Viome can’t conduct their analysis.
How Viome delivers results
Viome delivers test results directly to their fantastic app. In about four weeks, you’ll get a notification that your results are ready to review. Your specific gut information is used to tell you the exact foods you should Avoid or Minimize, as well as foods you can Enjoy, or even what got rated as a Superfood.
The reason these food recommendations are important is because when we overeat or under-eat specific foods, we are either feeding or starving certain bacteria in our gut. This results in an imbalance, inflammation, and eventually disease. Some old foods may need to be avoided, and some new foods may need to be added. Viome is great about providing explanations as to why each food on the Avoid list is there. If you click the –> symbol on each food, there are details describing the effect that food has on your body. For example, I have the blueberry shock virus in my gut, so I need to cool it on blueberries for a while. Coffee contains catechols that are not supportive to my microbiome, so I’m kicking coffee (sad, but true).
It’s also important to know that this is just a snapshot. Gut health is ever-changing, just like the rest of the human body. Viome recommends adhering to their food recommendations for 90 days to see improvement. So it’s easy to see, this is NOT a forever situation. I won’t have to swear off blueberries for the rest of my life (thank heavens).
At-home gut testing is actually a simple process. If it’s something you’ve been really curious about and think it can give you the information you need to further your health goals, I say go for it. It seems intimidating at first, but it’s really not a big deal.
And the final benefit: Viome kits frequently go on sale. In fact, if you read this between July 22, 2020 and August 3, 2020, Viome will be running a summer sale. That means you can get the same Gut Intelligence test I took for $149. I know how expensive it can get when we’re chasing down our root causes, so I want to help make fellow health seekers aware of when they can get more for their money.
I’m not paid to say anything positive about Viome, and I’m not a company spokesperson in any way. This was simply my genuine opinion on my personal experience, purely for informative (and mildly entertaining) purposes. Cheers to your health!