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Viome Review: What To Know Before You Buy
Outside of the work I do with Self-Himprovement, I’m a Product Manager in the software industry. Working in software, especially as a PM, requires constantly thinking about what data you have at your disposal and what insights you can gather from that data.
Caring for your body and wellness follows a similar principle. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to living your most healthful life or getting in shape.
In order to make the most impactful decisions possible, you need data about where your body is at and what metrics you can change.
So, when the folks at Viome reached out and asked if I would be interested in trying their product, I excitedly agreed. Viome describes itself as providing “Health insights, personalized food recommendations, and precision supplements, formulated just for you.”
Viome is one of those brands that seems to be designed for biohackers because of the deep insights it gives you into your wellbeing and how you can best optimize your health.
But… does it live up to the hype of its own claims?
I've tried Viome's system and have quite a few thoughts on its strengths and weaknesses, which I'll go through more in-depth below. In a nutshell, though, I think it's a great product. If you want to check out Viome and support Self-Himprovement, you can do so here. Otherwise, read on to learn my full thoughts.
In this article we’ll cover:
- What Is Viome?
- How Does Viome Work?
- What Data Does Viome Testing Give You?
- Are Viome’s Custom Supplements Worth it?
- Can You Use Viome for Biohacking?
What Is Viome?
As mentioned, Viome is a health and wellness company that provides customers with personalized health insights and individually formulated supplements.
The company is comprised of two distinct arms– Viome, the brand that sells health tests and supplements, and Viome Life Sciences, which seeks “to digitize, decode, and decipher human biology to prevent, treat, and cure chronic diseases and cancer.”
I found Viome Life Sciences to be particularly interesting. There are a ton of supplement brands, and recently there has even been an uptick in personalized nutrition brands, but very few have an established presence in life science research. For me, this gave Viome a decent element of credibility prior to trying it out.
Viome the brand seeks to build off their life science research by putting bespoke health analytics into consumers' hands. With their products, users are able to collect and send off samples (more on that in a moment) and then receive several reports that analyze:
- Cellular health
- Mitochondrial health
- Gut microbiome health
- Immune system health
- Stress response health
- Biological Age
With each of these reports, they provide insights into why you scored the way you did and make suggestions for supplements and foods that could be beneficial in improving each of your metrics.
How Does Viome Work?
Once you have received and activated your Viome kit, the first thing you do is collect your samples.
Unlike a lot of supplement companies where you can go to their storefront and buy generic supplements and multivitamins, Viome’s products are specifically catered to each user. Because of this, there are not generic formulations available. You have to first take either a gut health test or a gut and cell health test.
To take the test, you have to collect biological samples. In this case, that means a blood sample and a stool sample.
The great thing about at-home testing is that you are in charge. It’s pretty convenient. You don’t have to sit in waiting rooms or cart sample cups of feces from the bathroom to the lab in full view of the entire nursing staff.
That said, in order to complete the test at home, you do have to be comfortable with collecting your own samples. I’ve done at-home testing before. For example, every three months I do at-home STI testing, which requires a variety of swabs in orifices, urine, and blood samples, so it wasn’t anything new for me. That said, I did realize during this process that there is no dignified way to collect a sample of your own feces.
The blood sample with Viome was one of the easiest I’ve ever collected. Like most at-home tests that include blood, you have to use a spring-loaded lancet to make a small prick in your fingertip and then collect the blood from there. What I really liked about Viome’s testing kit as opposed to Nurx is that they included some brilliant little pipettes that made it so much easier to collect the appropriate amount of blood.
If you struggle with biological material, such as blood and feces, or with collecting your own blood sample, you may be better off working with a partner laboratory or having someone assist you.
Once you’ve collected your samples, you put them in the included packaging and send them off to Viome’s lab for analysis.
While your samples are being analyzed, you can complete the health and lifestyle questionnaires Viome provides in their app. These questionnaires help them provide even more bespoke insights into your health and wellness, factoring in things like your activity level, age, and allergies before making recommendations.
In a couple of weeks, you get your results back, which you can see on the Viome website or their mobile app.
From there, it’s up to you what you do with that information. You’re able to order a monthly subscription to their customized vitamins, which are packaged and dosed specifically for you based on your results. However, with the tests, there’s no obligation to also purchase the vitamins. If you prefer, you’re able to take your test results and seek out your own opportunities for improvement.
Additionally, Viome also provides you with a list of foods that you should incorporate into your diet, avoid, or minimize based on your results. They categorize foods as superfoods (“this will be great for your dietary needs based upon your sample”), enjoy (“these foods won’t have a significant positive or negative effect on your health”), minimize (“these foods could negatively affect your overall health based upon your sample”), and avoid (“these foods will exacerbate the issues we found from your sample”).
What Do Viome’s Tests Actually Tell You?
Phrases like “cell health” and “gut biome health” sound important, but they might as well be gibberish if you aren’t getting good data or don’t understand the implications of such aspects of your health.
In simple terms, Viome’s cell and gut health tests provide you with a snapshot of your body’s condition at the time that your samples were collected. It then compares that snapshot against what is typically expected as the “ideal” state for optimized health.
This comparison checks to see if your stool, for example, contains the appropriate markers that would suggest that you are digesting your food well, have the appropriate levels of healthy gut bacteria in your digestive tract, and don’t have excess levels of fungi and pathogens that can impede digestive health.
Similarly, the blood sample is looked at in a few different ways. They’re testing to see if your cells look and behave like healthy cells, producing energy efficiently, and possessing the necessary traits to have an effective immune response.
The above image shows sample results from Blake's Viome test.
All of these things occur on the microscopic level within our bodies but have a compounding, cumulative effect on us. Your gut and cell health impact everything from your mood to your bowel regularity, your ability to fight off infections and disease to how easily you wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.
By examining the makeup of your blood and stool, they're able to create a snapshot of your gene expression and gut biome, which can help surface health insights unique to you.
If something is off-track or deficient, knowing that that’s the case gives you the information you need to make a change and remediate that deficiency.
Are Viome’s Supplements Worth the Cost?
Viome’s tests and supplements aren’t cheap. If you purchase the combined gut and cellular health tests, it’s going to cost you close to $200. The bespoke supplements cost an additional $149 per month (for the combination gut and cellular health supplements).
I don’t typically endorse products that cost more than $100 per month. Once you get into that range of pricing, products start to become unobtainable for some consumers, and a part of our health and wellness ethos is that living a healthful life should be made as attainable and approachable as possible.
That said, I don’t feel like I could give Viome a full review if I did not try out the custom supplements. It’s a fairly notable step up in monthly supplement costs from my current routine, but it’s not unheard of. Multivitamin greens drinks, for example, often run between $60 and $120 per month– and those aren’t even formulated specifically for you.
I’ve only been taking the supplements for a few weeks at the time of writing this. So far, I’m quite happy with the results.
I do feel like my energy regulation is a bit better. I’m not as groggy in the afternoons and don’t have as much post-lunch brain fog while I’m working.
Additionally, it’s helped quite a bit with bowel regularity. That’s something I’ve always struggled with. I haven’t noticed constipation or bloating quite as much as I usually do since I’ve been taking the supplements.
While this may be a niche observation, one of the oddest outcomes for me personally is that I don’t feel like I’m creating expensive urine. Often, with multivitamins and supplements that are preformulated, I end up taking the recommended dose, receiving 300% or more of my daily recommended values of a handful of nutrients and then have highlighter-yellow colored urine two or three times. I haven’t noticed that quite so much with Viome’s vitamins. I’m not sure if that’s a sign that my body is processing what it’s getting more efficiently, or if what I’m taking isn’t just packed with excess filler nutrients that it’s never intended to process.
Whatever the cause, it feels like a benefit to me. It also feels like I’ve talked far too much about my bathroom habits in this article now.
The main downside of the vitamins is, of course, the price. It’s expensive, but so far I have a “you get what you pay for” mentality, and feel okay to continue investing in these supplements for the time being.
After a few months, I’ll update this article to see if that’s how I still feel about these supplements. One thing I try to always be cautious about is that when you start a new supplement routine, especially an expensive one, there can be a bit of a placebo effect where your excitement and hopes for a product buoy your sense of value. I don’t think that’s the case with Viome, but if my opinion changes, I’ll be sure to document that.
All things considered, I do give the supplements a thumbs up and say that they’re worth it.
Can You Use Viome for Biohacking?
Short answer: yes, absolutely.
The crux of biohacking is that you seek to make data-informed adjustments to optimize your health and performance.
If your primary goal with biohacking is to optimize your overall health, then Viome could be a good choice for making very precise decisions and adjustments. The reports you get with Viome suggest broader trends and areas to explore within your overall health, and the custom supplements they provide can help you target specific key outcomes.
If you repeat the testing cycle every 6-8 months, you can take these insights further and track how your overall health is evolving over time. Even if you don’t purchase the supplement subscription, testing every 6-8 months after you’ve made specific, incremental changes can help you see how your health has evolved and whether or not the changes you’ve made have had the desired outcome.