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Real Member Questions: Xylitol, Microbial Activity, Fenugreek Seeds vs. Leaves, and More!

Member QA BlogJune

Welcome to Viome's Monthly Deep Dive! 

Every month, 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 month, 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 Month's Featured Member Questions:


I’ve been taking my normal vitamin protocol. How would you know if I’m okay based on my test results or if it’s because I’ve been taking supplements? Also, should I continue with that, or will your supplements cover that area?


Your test results are based on gene expression from both the microbes in your gut and oral cavity, as well as your human gene expression at the time of testing. We have not completed any studies looking at the use of third-party supplements prior to testing, and as a result, we cannot say that taking supplements while testing would significantly impact results. Our experience and outside research suggest that many factors contribute to differences in gene expression, including diet, exercise, stress, sleep, medications, and supplements. So we generally recommend testing when you are in your "usual" state; meaning eating your typical diet and following your regular lifestyle routine.

Your Precision Supplement recommendations are focused on helping support your test scores that fall into the non-optimal category and should be able to replace any off-the-shelf supplements or vitamins you were taking previously. However, if a certain vitamin is prescribed by your doctor that you need but is not included in the Precision Supplements, you can continue to take them, especially if you are given a specific target dose by your doctor that is not covered or not 100% covered in your Precision Supplements formula.


When it comes to looking at your human microbiome, what your microbes are actually doing there is far more important than the names of the microbes. People writing about the microbiome focus on named organisms, like Akkermansia muciniphila or Escherichia coli, and label them as good bugs or bad bugs. But that is just scratching the surface of the information your microbes can provide about your health. Read more on the viome scientific process called metatranscriptomics and how we look at the activity of your microbiome, then deliver your test results to you.


When I place the oral lozenge in my mouth, it tastes like it shouldn't be “good” for me. Funny but true. Specifically, it has a strong minty flavor, tantamount to a giant Tic-Tac. It may be helpful for fresh breath, but what exactly is happening to promote a healthy oral microbiome and protect the gums and teeth? Is xylitol the main ingredient that prevents plaque-forming bacteria? Should I be swishing the lozenge with saliva across my gums and teeth? Can you please elaborate on the lozenge concept?


Thanks for sharing that feedback. I personally love the strong minty flavor, but I know each person's tastebuds are unique. The mint and xylitol are primarily there to help the flavor, though they do both provide a benefit to the oral microbiome as well. Since I don't know what ingredients are included in your lozenge, I'd encourage you to read about each ingredient in your Viome App. You can click on any ingredient recommended to you and will see a summary of the benefits. Our oral lozenges contain prebiotic fibers that help reduce the formation of volatile gases that cause bad breath, clinically studied probiotics that help colonize the oral cavity, support the growth of beneficial bacteria, and boost our natural immune defenses, as well as other ingredients like amino acids and postbiotics. Each with its own benefit.

The idea of the lozenge is to provide a medium in which your oral cavity can be exposed to the ingredients in the lozenge for a period of time to help the probiotics colonize and expose the microbes in the mouth to the other ingredients. There's no need to swish with water–and in fact, you should not eat or drink anything for 30 minutes after taking it–but periodically moving the lozenge around your mouth as it dissolves is a good idea. It can take a long time to dissolve, and as long as it hangs out in your mouth for about 5-10 minutes, it is ok to break it up with your teeth and let it continue to dissolve and swallow it.


Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that tastes sweet but looks like sugar, has 40% fewer calories than sugar, and does not raise blood sugar levels. It is considered natural and is found in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables. 

It can help support dental health, and dentists do recommend using xylitol gum, as studies have seen that xylitol can help prevent tooth decay.1 Makes for a fantastic ingredient in our Viome VRx™ Oral Lozenges!


I have fenugreek seeds on my Enjoy list. Would that apply to fenugreek leaves as well? Fenugreek leaves are not on the list. Similarly, sesame seeds are on my Avoid list, so would that apply to sesame oil as well, since sesame oil is not on the list?


Because fenugreek seeds and leaves have different nutrient compositions, the Enjoy for the seeds cannot be directly applied to the leaves. I'll take note of adding fenugreek leaves to our food list in the future. For now, if a food is not on the food list, we suggest introducing it slowly over a few days and notice how you feel. If you don't have any unwanted effects, and the seed version is Enjoy, it's reasonable to assume that you can enjoy the leaves as well.

For sesame oil, it depends on what the reason is for sesame seeds to be avoided. If the Avoid is due to a plant virus, we recommend avoiding all forms of that food. If it is minimized or avoided due to a specific nutrient like oxalates, you can do a bit of research to see if the oil version contains that nutrient. In the case of oxalates, we wouldn't expect sesame oil to be a significant source of oxalates. You can check it out and see!


Trigonella foenum-graecum L. family Leguminosae, known as fenugreek, has been used and eaten by humans for thousands of years. Burned fenugreek seeds discovered in Iraq have been carbon-dated back to 4000 B.C. It is cultivated in Asia and Mediterranean countries, and used in cooking and home remedies. The pods contain about 20 seeds that are rich in proteins and have a wonderful maple syrup smell.2 

One common Indian dish that uses fenugreek is Methi Matar Malai, a white gravy curry made with fenugreek, peas, and cashews. The nugget-like fenugreek seeds are very hard and bitter in their original state. A great tip is to soak them overnight and then toast them before using them in your recipes.3


Do you have a question about your Viome journey?

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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.

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1Janakiram C, Deepan Kumar CV, Joseph J. (2017). J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2017 Jan-Jun;8(1):16-21. doi: 10.4103/0976-9668.198344. PMID: 28250669; PMCID: PMC5320817.

2 Watson, R., Dokken, B. (2014). Published by Academic Press.

3 Raposo, J. (2022, July 20). Food and Wine Magazine. Online at