Change is Constant
For those that have done the Viome test, you may be aware that Viome recently updated their app and changed the content within their reports. Many of you have probably noticed massive changes to the names of microbes, microbes that were on your first report are no longer there, new microbes appearing, and various changes to the bio-individualized dietary recommendations.
Our recent meeting with the Chief Medical Officer of Viome shed light on many reasonable explanations for these changes. Distilling the vast amounts of data that Viome collects and transforming it into tangible information that we can all view within the reports is an immense and ever-evolving undertaking. In light of this, we encourage everyone to please bare with Viome as they continue to tirelessly work through technological challenges that can come with a new launch of any cutting-edge product and service.
There have been rumblings within social media circles of some microbes completely missing on the new report instead of being re-classified. We have been assured that all previous data is still there and that there are currently some rendering issues inside of the app; which will be resolved in time.
Having said this, we would like focus everyone's attention on the amazing advancements that Viome has made and will continue to make within the health and wellness arena. Viome is arming its users with powerful information, beyond that of any other lab that we know of, that will allow for a much greater understanding of what the body needs to restore optimal function.
Most Comprehensive Microbial Database Around!
The metatranscriptomic technology that Viome utilizes came from scientific research done by Los Alamos National Laboratories. They brought with them the database the government was using for their research. This is what Viome used to match all of the microbial RNA sequences inside of peoples' guts and make sense of all the data. For as good and up-to-date as this database was in its time, it no longer holds up to what has developed from it.
This just goes to show that new microbes continue to emerge and scientists are constantly changing names of and re-classifying organisms. The mega database now being utilized by Viome is comprised of all microbes that have been sequenced to date and published within government databases. They also make updates to the mega database when changes occur within these databases.
Identification Versus Function
The continued refinement of the Viome mega database allows for greater preciseness in identifying and categorizing microbes. For instance, this greater preciseness allows for a group of microbes that were once considered to be one strain to actually be broken up into three different strains. The more that is learned about how microbes function, the more scientists continue to rename and reclassify them in greater detail.
The microbe lists are based off of matching the RNA sequencing to the genomic databases of all known microbes that have sequenced to date. While names and classifications of microbes are indeed important for labeling and discussion purposes, the recommendations made by Viome are NOT based on the names of organisms.
Identification of the microbes is actually a very small part of the data being collected by Viome. When trying to understand a microbe, it is more important to analyze what the microbe is actually doing inside of the gut versus determining what genus it belongs to.
Knowing if a microbe is producing highly inflammatory lipopolysaccharides is much more important than knowing if the microbe is from the salmonella or e coli genus. This is no different than hyper-focusing on a particular diagnosis. The name/label of an illness, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or Hashimoto's, does NOT matter. What matters is the underlying dysfunction causing the symptoms and the factors that created the dysfunction in the first place.
The dietary recommendations are based off of a separate section of the mega database where all the metabolic functions of gut microbes are analyzed with extensive metabolic pathways databases. By looking at all microbial metabolites (byproducts), Viome is able to see exactly what all of the microbes are doing and how they are interacting with one another. This means looking at what microbes are consuming, what they are producing based on what they consume, and how what they produce influences other microbes.
Understanding all of this is what allows Viome to provide such bio-individualized dietary recommendations. Without this, this would be like practitioners, such as us, trying to help somebody unravel chronic health challenges and only knowing their name. A person's name without past medical history, nutritional status, current lifestyle, environmental exposures, etc. would be of no use in this process.
Viome utilizes extensive metabolic pathway databases that have been curated by years of pharmaceutical research. As you can imagine, when bringing a new drug to market, researchers need to know exactly how it will be metabolized by the body in order to determine safety and efficacy. Viome has licensed access to such databases with which they use to train the AI (artificial intelligence).
We know it can be very confusing and overwhelming for users to keep up with and understand the ever evolving nature of cutting-edge, exponential technologies such as Viome. That said, one does not need to fully understand the expansive amounts of data to reap the benefits of the recommendations within the report. Simply following the bio-individualized dietary recommendations minus any know food allergies or intolerances for as little as three months can provide profound benefits to the state of one's microbiome.
New Insights Driven by Artificial Intelligence
Almonds Spiking Blood Sugar? Really!?
There are studies that support the ability of almonds to help reduce the rise of blood sugar and insulin after meals (1). This, however, is not always the case. Viome's blood sugar case studies have further developed our understanding of glucose responses to a wide variety of foods. This has revealed that foods, such as almonds, that are commonly "known" to help stabilize blood sugar can absolutely cause blood sugar spikes in one person but not the next.
This shows us that not everything is as black and white as once previously thought to be and why bio-individualized food lists based on microbiome data are so important. During these blood sugar case studies, participants wore continuous blood glucose monitors and tracked their blood sugar in response to everything consumed.
This data was then correlated with the vast amount of Gut Intelligence data from the participants. Everything learned in these studies, is now utilized by the AI to understand one's metabolic responses to foods using only the microbial data. Therefore, the sugar challenge and monitoring of blood glucose levels inside of the metabolic intelligence test is no longer required for Viome to get a high resolution look at one's metabolism. Being able to correlate such data is yet another one of the many benefits of having an AI.
News Flash! Candida Not Near As Prevalent As One Might Think
As practitioners that review Viome reports on a regular basis, we noticed that candida and other fungal overgrowths almost never showed up. Many questions came from concerned Viome users who had been told by their practitioners/doctors that they had fungal overgrowths such as candida based on the findings of organic acids and/or stool tests, yet they did not show up on their Viome results. As you can imagine, Viome had just as many questions and concerns surrounding this issue.
To figure all this out, they took samples from those that were medically diagnosed as having candida overgrowth and ran both metagenomic (DNA) and metatranscriptomic (RNA) analyses. The combination of these analyses gives a much deeper look than ever available before. The studies showed no active candida in the majority of the samples tested.
A recent study has shed light into why these fungal organisms are not showing up in a large number of Viome results (2). This study revealed that the fungi being identified via OATS and other testing methods were often a direct match for the levels of fungi found in the oral cavity and on the foods consumed near the time of completing the tests. "Many of the fungi most commonly detected in stool samples are also present in food or in the mouth," said lead study author Thomas A. Auchtung, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "To recognize which gut fungi are likely to have a sustained influence on human health, there is a need to separate transient members of the GI tract from those capable of colonizing."
By looking at RNA, Viome is looking at the microbial activity of these organisms, therefore only picking up what has colonized the gut to a level of clinical relevance (one script per million scripts analyzed). This compensates for the false positive rates that this new study illuminates in reference to other types of testing around fungi in the GI tract.
So that is a wrap for this discussion about Viome. We hope that this article has shed light on some of the confusing advancements as of late. Stay tuned for future articles as we will surely be keeping up with all new developments and sharing it with our followers.