Trust Your Gut
Updated: Feb 20, 2019
Viome Gut Microbiome Test
Food recommendations based on personalized gut microbiome results.
Don't ask anyone for dietary advice until you know what is in YOUR gut!
This is the #1 test I recommend people take to optimize their diet, whether or not you consider yourself healthy! If you don't know what foods to avoid, you may be unknowingly causing harm to your body, living in a constant state of inflammation, and triggering faulty immune system response. Additionally, when you adhere to Viome's individualized food recommendations, you can rebuild and optimize your gut bacteria. Irrefutable scientific evidence has proven the incredible importance of gut bacteria health and it's critical role in the vital functioning of our bodies and minds.
Here are my Viome test results...
I always considered myself a fairly healthy eater. I'm not overweight. I exercise. I assumed I was healthy... Turns out I was wrong.
The reasons for an unhealthy gut microbiome environment can be numerous: lack of breast feeding as a baby, infections, antibiotic use, poor dietary choices and inflammatory food consumption, toxins in the environment - just to name a few. If several of these factors are combined, a person could go much of their life functioning sub-optimally, mis-diagnosing the root cause of illness or disease, and generally living in a state of inflammation and metabolic inefficiency, regardless of (and perhaps in contrast to) their outside appearance.
With so much recent research showing the importance of a healthy gut in relation to a person's overall well being, including immune function, heart and brain health, mood, susceptibility to chronic disease, etc., I was so excited to find a company that not only could give me a score of how well my gut is functioning, but also give me recommendations on what I should eat to improve my gut health.
When I received my test results from Viome, I was shocked to find that my "gut intelligence" scored poorly. This snapshot of my gut ecosystem showed that the microbial richness and the number of the bacterial species inside my digestive track is quite low:
So, how to fix this problem?
Fortunately, in addition to the gut score, Viome provides food recommendations to improve the bacterial population of my intestines. They list foods in four categories (including suggested amounts): 1) Avoid entirely (kryptonite); 2) Superfoods (eat copious amounts); 3) Minimize (limit weekly consumption) 4) Enjoy liberally.
My Avoid list contained these 8 items: Peas, chickpeas, lentils, bell peppers, flax oil, hemp hearts, spearmint and peppermint. How does Viome know this? Apparently my microbiome contains something called a "pea streak virus" which causes immune system dysfunction. For each of these Avoid foods, Viome lists the reason why the offending food causes a problem when it is processed by our body. Luckily, my Avoid list wasn't too lengthy. I just have to watch what I order if I'm eating at Greek, Indian, or Thai restaurants. And as my mom said: "who needs bell peppers anyway?"
Now on to my 12 Superfoods: Salmon, bone broth, blueberries, brussels sprouts, celery, sweet potato, jicama, sauerkraut, papaya, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, rosemary, oregano, turmeric. Ok, maybe these aren't "super exciting" foods, but at least I don't have a strong aversion to any of them, and honestly, as much as I would have liked it, I wasn't expecting to see "Ruben sandwich" and "french fries" on this list.
The Minimize list contains 55 items across a wide grouping of foods, including many foods which are widely considered "health foods," like spinach, almonds, sesame seeds, green beans, zuchinni, dates, and goji berries. Some weren't so surprising: corn, wheat, cane sugar. Again, these recommendations are specific to me personally - another person's recommendations would most likely be very different, as no two people have the same microbiome constitution.
Lucky for me, the Enjoy list contains over 200 foods to mow down to my content. It also provides me with alternatives to items in the Minimize list. For instance, I'm supposed to limit white rice and rice noodles, but brown rice is fair game. Other examples: minimize maple syrup, molasses, and stevia, enjoy honey and monkfruit sweetener; minimize spinach and chard, enjoy kale, lettuce, cabbage. Minimize pork, enjoy most other meats; minimize pecans and peanuts, enjoy cashews and macadamia nuts.
My overall feeling after reading the results was a mixture of consternation at the poor results of the current state of my gut, combined with relief that the foods I am recommended to avoid/minimize/enjoy don't seem too daunting to adhere to or restrictive - If coffee and red wine would have showed up on my Avoid list, I might just have lost all interest in being a human being. As it stands, I have plenty of possibilities in substituting one food for another on the lists. It actually makes ordering in a restaurant easier, because I can quickly scan a menu for proper choices. With these recommendations under my belt, I am hoping to revitalize my gut environment and retest with Viome in six months to see if my score has improved and what recommendations have changed.
With an improvement in my gut microbiome, I am also hoping to see improvements in other areas of my health and fitness agenda that are inextricably tied to gut health: deeper sleep, reduced digestion issues, less anxiety, improved ability to gain lean muscle mass, more energy, elevated mood and brain functioning, avoidance of chronic disease.
The days of listening to generalized, blanket diet advice aimed at a larger populace is obsolete, misguided, and very possibly deleterious to your health. If you don't know the microbial structure of your intestines, you would have no idea that certain foods may be causing you harm. Every person has a unique set of bacteria in their gut. No two people are the same. Modern science has now given us the ability to know exactly what is happening (and what is living) in your gut. I truly believe that Viome's gut test is the critical first step for improved health and absolutely money well spent in this pursuit.
Be well, fly high, pilot your health!