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Real Member Questions: Almonds, Metabolic Fitness, Avoid Foods, and More!

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Welcome to Viome's Weekly Deep Dive! 

Every week, we dive deep into the questions and curiosities of our community, where people like you seek to understand the profound connections between your body, your nutrition, your microbiome, your health, and ultimately – your happiness.

Our mission at Viome is to empower each individual with knowledge, creating a world where illness is optional. In this spirit, we've selected four pressing questions from our members this week, answering them with detailed insights backed by the latest research.  

For those of you keen on learning more, we've also added a 'Deeper Dive' section at the end of each answer, directing you to further resources and studies to quench your thirst for knowledge. 

This Week's Featured Member Questions:

WEEK 37:


I have almond milk on my Enjoy list, almonds on my Minimize list. Where does almond butter fit in? Thanks!


Great question! It turns out that the manufacturing process for almond milk removes oxalates from these products. That's why you will still see it in your Enjoy list (assuming the Glycemic Response Model predicts you will have a favorable blood sugar response with almond milk). Whole almond products, and almond butter, do not use this same process, so you will see almonds in your Minimize list because of their high level of oxalates. So unfortunately, it's best if you also minimize your use of almond butter. The good news is you don't need to avoid almonds/almond butter completely; a few servings a week are still acceptable. Even better, the recommendation gives you an excuse to go experiment with other nut/seed butters!


There are a few ways that the nutrient profile of almonds is changed as they are put through the process of becoming almond milk. Nuts can be soaked and blended, then strained, or heated, or calcium-rich ingredients added to bind with oxalates to reduce the amount of oxalates you absorb. Whichever method a manufacturer uses, you may be able to tolerate almond milk if you have a sensitivity to oxalates. 

When selecting an almond milk, be sure to keep an eye out for ingredients like carrageenan, a stabilizer or thickening agent that is added to some brands. Carrageenan is known to be disruptive to the microbiome.1


Hi! I was wondering if my LDL Cholesterol has always been perfectly fine, why my LDL Cholesterol Pathways score would be listed as Not Optimal - I assume other things come into play other than just your numbers from an LDL blood panel, but I was just wondering if you could elaborate a little? I would add that I do not have my gallbladder and so I know I don't have the stored bile like I used to, to break down maybe that comes into play here. Thanks!


Excellent question. You're absolutely right; other factors come into play for Viome's LDL Pathways score. We see in our data that many folks with low serum cholesterol/LDL levels who have a Not Optimal gene expression activity, which can be associated with the development of arterial plaques and heart disease. 

For example, gene expression features associated with cholesterol production and clearance, oxidative stress, immune activation, and oxidative stress are included in the LDL Pathways score. Because of this Viome is able to make a much broader assessment of your cardiovascular health than a single, serum LDL level can on its own. Remember, although LDL cholesterol is required for the development of plaques it is not sufficient to produce plaques on its own (it's just one ingredient in the recipe!). Multiple factors come into play when it comes to heart health, and at Viome we want to make sure we are considering as many of these factors as possible. The good news is there are steps you can take to improve the score. That’s where Viome's recommendations come in to support that key area of health.


Even though a bit alarming, having your lipid panel show you optimal levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol doesn’t always equal a healthy heart. A recent study found half of healthy patients with normal cholesterol have significant plaque build-up in their arteries, an early sign of heart disease.2 The study authors suggested that even heart healthy people would benefit from preventative efforts to become healthier, such as diet and exercise.


Is there a way to figure out how to combine Superfoods and Enjoy foods for maximum nutritional benefits (without using ChatGPT or AI)?


"Maximum nutritional benefit" could mean different things to different people depending on context (health goals, symptoms/conditions, other dietary restrictions, etc.). In general, the simplest way to maximize both the nutritional and microbiome benefits of Viome's food recommendations is to emphasize diversity, especially when it comes to plant-based foods. The more diversity, the broader the nutritional content of the diet, and the greater positive impact we see on both the diversity and metabolic activity of the gut microbiome. 

The simplest way to increase diversity is to "eat the rainbow." Eat as many colors as you can in a day. Blues, reds, greens, and purples all represent the nutrients in those specific foods (the colors are the polyphenols!), which makes it super easy to add variety to your diet. Another trick is to set a goal for your daily/weekly plant-based food intake. Getting in 30 plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices) in a week has been shown to have positive health benefits.


There are a staggering 8000 types of polyphenols, naturally occurring in fruits, veggies, herbs and spices. Each has their own unique benefits. These include - 

Flavonoids found in kale, grapes, onions, tea and more have been found to help support gut health.3

Phenolic acids found in apples, berries, mangoes and plums have been fjound to support your cells with free-radical fighting compounds.4

Polyphenols make up most of your antioxidant intake, and are essential in helping defend against cell damage that occurs due to aging, pollution, and stress levels.


Can you explain what goes into the Metabolic Fitness score? I’m a little unclear on what it is measuring and how to improve it. My test in November came back Average and my recent test in July came back as Not Optimal and I’m trying to understand why. I lost 15 pounds in that time frame and improved my lifestyle and eating choices, including increasing my activity level.


The Metabolic Fitness score assesses how your microbiome is supporting the metabolism of macronutrients like fats and carbohydrates. The microbiome has a tremendous influence on our blood sugar (and fat) control. This score is intended to give a snapshot of whether your microbiome is helping or hurting your health in these areas.


Remember, your gut microbiome, or more specifically what your gut microbiome does with the food you eat determines what foods are “healthy” for you. And your microbiome does have influence over your blood sugar control, as our expert stated above. 

There are two microbiome functions Viome found in a published study that affect personal glycemic response: fucose and intoleacetate:

“Fucose is a sugar molecule found in your gut lining that various microbial organisms can use as an energy source when other carbohydrate sources are not available, often due to fasting or being on a low-carb diet. What this means is that your body, due to lack of energy sources, eats into your gut lining, over metabolizing the sugar it finds, and contributing to a spike in your glucose levels.

“Indoleacetate is a compound known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can also help lower your glucose levels. When your microbes are producing more indoleacetate, your glycemic response drops, which is a good thing. Our analysis has determined that the higher the indoleacetate activity level is in your gut, the lower your glycemic response will be.”


It can be challenging to avoid all Avoid foods all of the time, especially dinner parties. Will one serving set you back?


It is challenging! And hats off to you for being willing to incorporate lifestyle changes into your busy day-to-day. The short answer here is, "No, one serving shouldn't set you back." However, depending on what scores your Avoid foods are tied to and the current state of your health, you might experience signs/symptoms when you reintroduce those Avoid foods. So we always want to strive for perfection (even if we can't get there). We recommend taking at least one dish to parties that you know you can indulge and be satisfied–without those Avoid foods. It also works as a conversation starter! Good luck. 


Eating healthier can absolutely be a challenge at times, especially when you are sensitive to foods that trigger you. A few questions to ask yourself before giving in to any cravings you might regret later on:

  • Am I really hungry?

  • Does this food nourish my body?

  • Do I feel pressured to eat right now? 

Before giving in to the temporary satisfaction of eating that Avoid food, asking yourself important questions can help avoid not feeling so great later on, mentally and physically.


Do you have a question about your Viome journey?

Have you joined our weekly live chat Q&A session?

Viome is built on a premise of biochemical individuality–meaning your biology and biochemistry is uniquely your own!

We measure over 10 million data points from expressed genes per sample from microbial (oral and gut) and human cells, allowing us to quantify, influence, and monitor your cellular and microbial pathways. This lets us know the nutrients or ingredients you need in order to stimulate or suppress certain functions and bring you back into balance.

We then create a supplement formula unique to every customer–precisely engineered for you based on what your scores reveal you need most.

In other words. every Viome journey is personal and dynamic.

Which makes it endlessly fascinating to explore and answer your questions along the way.

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1 Jackson-Browne MS, Henderson N, Patti M, Spanier A, Braun JM. (2019). Curr Environ Health Rep. ;6(4):214-224. doi: 10.1007/s40572-019-00256-2. PMID: 31745828; PMCID: PMC6923583.

2 Fernández-Friera L, Fuster V, López-Melgar B, et al. (2017). J Am Coll Cardiol. 70 (24) 2979–2991.

3 Shabbir U, Rubab M, Daliri EB, Chelliah R, Javed A, Oh DH. (2021). Nutrients. 13(1):206. doi: 10.3390/nu13010206. PMID: 33445760; PMCID: PMC7828240.

4 Kumar, N., & Goel, N. (2019, August 20). Biotechnology reports (Amsterdam, Netherlands).