10 Surprising Things You Can Learn from Viome’s Full Body Intelligence Test
You may have heard, but the impact of the human microbiome on health has become quite a hot topic.
Every day, new products are getting launched on the market that feature ways to improve gut health: a new colon cleanse, a gut health reboot, or a new generalized probiotic to help cure you of any gut issues. But our health is tied to more than just the ‘gut’ microbiome. In fact, the ‘human microbiome’ is made up of over a dozen different regions of your body, ranging from your gut, your mouth, to your skin, and everything in between. This is because your body is home to trillions of microorganisms that do everything from strengthening your immune system to helping you regulate your hormones. Ultimately, these microbes work together with your own human cells to convert what you’re eating into metabolites that can improve your health - or even harm it.
In a plethora of different ways, you have your body’s microbiota to thank for many aspects of your health (or lack of health), which is why it continues to be one of the hottest scientific topics today.
As Dr. Martin J. Blaser, director of the NYU Human Microbiome Program, put it, “It's reasonable to propose that the microbiome and its activities are involved in most, if not all, of the biological processes that constitute human health and disease.”
So, let’s get to know your microbiome a little better, including examples of some of the incredibly detailed information you learn from our new Full Body Intelligence Test, which not only features health insights into your gut microbiome - but your oral microbiome and its link to your full body health.
1. It’s not just about the bacteria in/on your body – We do discuss a lot about how bacteria play a role in your gut and overall health, but there are also all sorts of other microorganisms throughout your body. Archaea are ancient organisms that have no cell nucleus and often produce methane. They also have the distinct ability to live in extreme environments like volcanic vents and acidic hot springs, including acidic parts of your digestive system with little access to oxygen.
You’ll also find plenty of yeast and other fungi hanging out in there, and possibly other organisms that rely on us for nutrients to grow and multiply and that can directly or indirectly harm us. Eating foods that are infected with plant viruses can lead to low-grade inflammation in the gut once they cross the gut lining. But perhaps the most interesting of all are bacteriophages, which are harmless to human microscopic viruses that infect specific bacteria. Since these beneficial organisms specifically infect certain bacteria, some researchers hope that one day they may be used as a novel target for improved antibiotics.
What’s even more fascinating, is what all these microbes are doing. Their actions can affect your health and we can even modify their activities through personalized diet recommendations. By analyzing microbial activity, Viome can suggest your optimal diet for providing the most benefit to your entire body.
2. Your microbiome can impact your blood sugar response - The important thing to remember is that it isn’t the food you eat but what your gut microbiome does with the food you eat that matters most when determining what foods are “healthy” for you.
In a recent clinical research study from Viome, individuals consuming similar foods showed big differences in their glycemic response. This means that for some when they consumed what they expected was a low glycemic food like a banana - their body responded like they had just eaten a piece of double-fudge triple chocolate banana bread with nuts...while others showed no effects at all.
This study shows a new perspective on how the microbiome may be influencing changes in people’s glycemic response and just how complex the interactions of our microbial ecosystems are between the foods we ingest and our bodies. It turns out, certain microbial activities (what the microbes are actually doing inside of you) can contribute to changing how your body responds to foods that contain carbs by buffering the level of sugar being released into the bloodstream or even by spiking it.
3. Digestion starts in the nose and the mouth, not the stomach - It’s not uncommon to overlook our oral cavity as the first step in digestion. Our stomach and our digestive tract do a significant amount of the work, so it’s not unheard of to overlook the power of the teeth, saliva, tongue, and oral microbiome. Until recently, most specialists thought that all the bacteria in the mouth were harmful - thus the number of mouthwashes on the shelf. But the reality is that the nose, mouth, and oral microbiome are essential to initiating many biochemical signals that jumpstart our digestion.
Now we know that the oral microbiome is incredibly important to more than just beginning the breakdown of our food. These microbes also lend a hand in regulating a number of other systems like our heart, our brain, and our gut microbiome to boot.
4. Your gut microbes can influence skin cell regeneration - When our gut ecosystem is balanced and diverse, we see improved levels of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) like butyrate, propionate, and acetate. These byproducts from beneficial bacteria are shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects that help to regulate our immune response in the gut. They tackle this job in many ways, including preventing certain immune cells from getting carried away and banding together for a fight when they’re not needed. They also help DNA transcription in our human cells by preventing histone deacetylases – or HDAC’s – from constricting our tight-knit chromosomes. Simply put, they allow for our cellular DNA to replicate and improve their ability to regenerate. This means faster wound healing and more opportunities for our skin cells to keep their elasticity, preventing wrinkles.
5. Most microbes are neither good nor bad – We were too quick to label certain bacteria like E. coli “bad guys,” only to find out that certain strains at some levels can benefit us in our gut. In fact, E. coli are important for a lot of different ways to improve our health, for example, by stimulating regeneration of the gut lining, which can prevent toxic compounds from reaching our bloodstream.6 The underlying conclusion of gut microbiome research is that... it’s all about balance, and to achieve it, we have to balance not only microbes but also the activities that they’re engaged in.
6. Your microbiome may be controlling your emotions - Scientific researchers have been studying the Gut-Brain Axis for years: the complex interactions between the microbes in our gut and our brain. Our body has a direct link (like the vagus nerve that connects the central nervous system to the digestive tract) and many indirect links with the activity of our brain. Many of our neurotransmitters - or the hormones that control our brain’s activity and our mood - are created inside the gut with the help of microorganisms that live there.
And recently, studies looking at the oral microbiome have found they also can impact our mood and brain function through various activities that influence cognition. So if you’re feeling sad, or experiencing anxiousness, or mood swings, or have difficulty focusing from brain fog, your microbiome may be partly to blame.
Not only are we able to monitor how much of some of these neurotransmitters are produced, but we’re also able to recommend foods that help support balance in your microbiome with effects that can trickle down to even your mood.
7. If you’re not getting enough sunlight or vitamin D - Life on earth evolved with microorganisms, but it also evolved with the sun. We rely on that great, big, burning ball of fire in the sky to help keep track of our natural biological cycles - like our circadian rhythm - but also to create important molecules inside our body like vitamin D. Important to the health of our bones, vitamin D is also an essential nutrient that works to help regulate our blood pressure and regulate our immune system. Now with the Viome Full Body Intelligence Test, we’re able to determine if you have a low level of genetic transcripts that reflect your vitamin D status. This may mean more targeted vitamin D-rich foods in your recommendations or even added to your unique supplement recommendations.
8. Your microbes might be asking you to cut down on salt - Most people know that consuming too much salt can increase your blood pressure and heighten your risk for diseases like hypertension and stroke. However, we can now see that salt can also impact the health of your gut microbiome. Certain beneficial or probiotic microbes found in our gut microbiome can find it difficult to colonize in a high salt environment, while other not-so-good microbes (that actually contribute to gas production) thrive in high-salt environments. When your gut balance gets swayed due to high salt concentrations, this situation may promote more harmful bacteria or higher harmful activities to ensue.
Additionally, if your salt stress pathway activity is high, this might be a sign that your hydration levels may be low. We can assess these activity levels from your gut and offer more personalized recommendations for you in order to help you rebalance your gut microbiome health.
9. If you should swap sushi for steak - Fresh fish, vegetables, and rice, what more is there to love about so many people’s favorite food, sushi? But we all digest foods in vastly different ways, including many of the bioactive compounds found inside them. Some of the microorganisms in our body may even take many of these seemingly ‘safe’ or ‘healthy’ foods and convert them into toxic compounds like Uremic-type toxins p-cresol and indoxyl sulfate. These compounds are often generated when an individual has a high population of uremic-producing bacteria that convert some amino acids commonly found in Tuna and Goat meat.
So for some people, it might actually be better to swap out Tuna-based sushi for other meats like steak and chicken or try your hand at perhaps some more exotic types of fish - within reason!
10. Microbes can break down foods you can’t digest – How balanced your gut and oral microbiomes are affects how well your body extracts energy and nutrients. A healthy microbiome is associated with a healthy metabolism. So when it comes to losing weight, not only should you exercise regularly, but you should eat to support the balance of those trillions of bacteria. To find your ideal diet with the most precision recommendations on the market, you can take a Viome Full Body Intelligence Test which tells you exactly what to eat to improve your full body health.
This test can help give you powerful insights into your health, as well as deliver precise, personalized nutrition recommendations for healthy living. Through an at-home, science-based test, we can analyze your individual human and microbial health and assess the foods best for you. Together, we can empower individuals to take ownership of their health
More about Viome
Viome is on a mission to redefine the future of healthcare and disease research. Through our advanced technology developed from Viome’s lab at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, we are working to create a therapeutic platform to support our mission to reverse and prevent chronic diseases. Our main goal is to readdress the healthcare system using nutrition as medicine. At Viome, we believe that the focus of health should be on determining linkages and biological pathways that influence well-being instead of just focusing on the symptoms. It all starts by analyzing what’s going on inside your gut.
Your microbiome is a fascinating and complex world. What we know about our microbes today is only the tip of the iceberg, so as we continue to make new discoveries, just know: there is more to come, and Viome will be there to guide you through it.
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