While genetics play a key role in determining whether or not we encounter disease or illness, scientists believe it’s nutrition – as it pertains to our unique body – that is the key to health and longevity. And because the gut is where all diseases begin, microbiome testing to improve gut health is the future of nutrition.
What Is In The Microbiome?
The microbiome is a term scientists use to describe all of the microbes living in and on the human body. The microbiome forms a living layer over the skin and parts of the inside of the body. These include the lungs and digestive tract, from the mouth down to the colon.
We’re not born with a healthy microbiome – we need to create one over time.
Healthy adults harbor around 100 trillion bacteria in the gut alone. You may be under the impression that bacteria and microbes are the bad guys, but this isn’t necessarily true.
Scientists have taken years to differentiate the good bacteria from the bad. It turns out that pathogens make up only a tiny minority of micro-organisms. Most microbes are harmless and significantly improve your health. That’s why scientists are now using them to solve the problem of chronic disease.
The bacteria in your microbiome are responsible for breaking down certain foods and producing beneficial substances such as butyrate, which helps to maintain the gut lining, reduce insulin sensitivity, suppress inflammation, and even control our human gene expression.
Companies such as Viome are reassuring us that although we can’t change our DNA, we can certainly change the way the gene is expressed and how it chooses to behave.
What Is Viome?
Viome is a US wellness-tech company who has developed a home microbiome testing program.
Yvonne Holt, chief medical officer of Next Biosciences (SA), said through an easy-to-use test kit, you can manually take a small sample of your stool.
Since Viome is not yet FDA-approved, the product can’t officially diagnose, but it can identify underlying health issues and point you in the right direction.
Viome bases its tests on the functional analysis of microbial, mitochondrial, and human gene expressions. Using an AI-driven, personalized therapeutics platform can help to sustainably prevent and reverse chronic diseases such as diabetes, irritable bowel disorders, autoimmune diseases, GI disorders, anxiety, depression, and obesity.
In addition, the platform provides you with personalized nutritional recommendations based on your unique microbiome, so you can optimize your health forever. These recommendations include your superfoods, foods to minimize and avoid, as well as your recommended supplements.
A Step Further Than General DNA Testing
Viome goes beyond your DNA. Instead, it focuses on analyzing your RNA, which is how the gene expresses itself. DNA doesn’t take into account environmental factors such as diet, stress, exercise, disease, or pathogens. So, we need to know what to change around us, because our environment is what will enable us to live longer, healthier and better.
In the past, doctors didn’t have the tools to study the microbiome. But now, through a technique called meta-transcriptomics.
Viome scientists can take a sample of your microbes and get a comprehensive list of which kinds of micro-organisms live there, and what they’re doing.
In the past, doctors didn’t have the tools to study the microbiome. But now, through a technique called meta-transcriptomics, Viome scientists can take a sample of your microbes and get a comprehensive list of which kinds of micro-organisms live there, and what they’re doing.
Scientists looked specifically at the genus, species, and strains of micro-organisms. Whatever diet plan you follow, you’ll never be able to achieve this level of precision and individuality in determining what you should or shouldn’t be eating.
Because these results are individualized, you can customize your nutrition to what truly works for you. If you do this, Viome says you’ll be able to optimize your microbiome. It’s similar and just as important as going for regular dental checks.
Scientists have discovered that the gut-to-mind connection via your vagus nerve is the most powerful system in your body. Therefore, taking control of your gut health creates the power to heal holistically. Healing your gut means you could potentially improve your mental health since 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut.
Harness Your Health And Wellbeing
Stephen Barrie, MD, Ph.D., physician, scientist, entrepreneur, and one of the pioneers in the field of the microbiome explains that each person’s microbiome and body are unique. This means individuals react differently to specific foods and nutrients.
He also notes that most dietary interventions fail as they are designed for a “generic person”, or require extensive trial and error to work.
However, a person’s microbial activity determines what nutrition is healthy for them. So, while spinach and broccoli are “healthy” if the microbes can’t metabolize oxalate after consuming spinach, or they can’t produce high sulfide levels after consuming broccoli, they can be very harmful.
The World of Tracking
Undoubtedly, we are obsessed with tracking every move we make, from the steps we take in a day to how many calories we consume, how many heartbeats we experience, carbs, grams of fat, and minutes of sleep. While this is effective in building awareness of our body and health, it still doesn’t tell us what our body truly needs.
In a tech-driven world, Viome’s wellness service allows us to continually monitor our gut data. This is important because changes in the gut are changes in our wellness.
Boost Your Immunity During A Pandemic
Due to a pandemic such as COVID-19, we are even more interested in creating a healthy microbiome. Our small and large intestines have a tricky job. They’re responsible for the absorption of nutrients, water, and electrolytes while keeping out clever pathogens.
But they’re vulnerable since they consist only of a single layer of cells.
In addition, with so much sanitizer and disinfectant wiping out our good bacteria, we need to focus on eating a wide variety of foods to create a diverse microbiome – but these foods should be specific to each individual.
Although we can’t always control whether we get sick, our gut is so powerful that it has its own immune system. Cellular microbiology experts call it the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT).
Your GALT needs to be strong because it directly affects your body’s immune system. It’s responsible for keeping peace with foreign materials that enter the gut because your body might not tolerate certain molecules of food and other harmful substances.
Rob Pellow, one of the founders of Viome, explains that you need your immune system to be reactive, but not too reactive. The microbiome is a finely tuned system, and if you disrupt it, you’ll face infections or inflammation.
Too much inflammation in the body increases your risk of a long list of chronic diseases. Therefore, in times when infection or disease is high, we need to take every preventive action possible.
How The Test Kit Works
Each kit contains a step-by-step guide with instructions. Viome suggests following the food recommendations for the first three to four months before doing a retest.
Step1: Order your test-kit on the Viome website and then register it. You will need your smartphone so you can answer questions about your lifestyle: what you eat, whom you live with, and what medications you take.
Step 2: Once the test kit has been delivered, take a sample of your stool, conceal it and send it straight back to the Viome lab. The address is provided for you.
Step 4: Login and read your results; you’ll be notified when they’re ready. Then you’ll get a list of all the foods you need to avoid, enjoy in moderation or have lots of! Plus, you’ll get a list of recommended supplements and where to buy them.
The test shows you the exact microbiota living within your gut and provides food portion recommendations.
While this technology is life-changing, it’s powerful only if you implement the recommendations. Remember, any diet change will alter your microbiome in just 24 hours.
You’re filled with microbes waiting expectantly for your next bite.
Ensure that you watch out for your food score and how you can improve each particular aspect of your microbiome.
You might need to minimize or maximize certain foods, healthy or not. It’s also not the end of the world if you can’t eat something, because there’s always an alternative, and it won’t be forever.
Remember that everything we ingest compounds over time, and after a while, it will either make you feel better or worse.