Viome Guides

What Does it Mean When a Food is on My Minimize List?


The day you receive your results and recommendations is a very exciting day for our customers. You get to know how healthy your gut is and find out what foods you get to keep eating! The Superfoods and Enjoys are easy enough to understand and you know these are foods you should be eating every day.

However, what about the Minimize category?

What does it really mean to minimize a food or whole list of foods for that matter? They weren’t listed under Avoid, but would it be better to try to avoid them as much as possible? With questions often circulating about this specific category, we wanted to cover them all right here!

If it’s on your minimize list, would it be better to avoid the food all together?

Actually, the answer to this question is yes. We place foods on your Minimize list because while they are not an absolute Avoid for you, you should actively try to decrease your consumption of them, or not eat them at all.

Your Minimize foods are included within your daily servings of each food group. However, you do not need to include them every day during your meals. You can stick to your Superfoods and Enjoy foods to make up your daily meals and get enough variety in your diet. That being said, if you strongly desire a Minimize food, you can eat it in moderation, keeping your Minimize food intake at 20% or less of your daily intake.

Remember, if you do not want to eat your Minimize foods, you do not need to. You have plenty of Enjoy foods and Superfoods to fill in your daily servings of each food group. These two groups should provide you with a wide variety of foods to feed your gut microbiome.

Why do you need to minimize?

A food may be beneficial for specific microbiome functions based on the necessary nutrient(s) content. However, if there are any health conditions inferred from the questionnaire or if our Glycemic Response prediction model predicts high glycemic response to this food for the given person, then the food may go on your “Minimize” or “Avoid” list. The main reason we take phenotype information into account is to assure we do no harm while we address the biology of the functional systems.

Let’s add another layer to our recommendations explanation. The foods that make it onto your “Minimize” and “Avoid” lists may contain potentially harmful components that can’t be neutralized without the right organisms present.

In many cases, our microbiome protects us from substances in our food that can potentially be damaging to our health. Certain microbes can metabolize these substances and make them less harmful. But of course, not all of us have microbiomes that are capable of doing this. For example, oxalate is found in high amounts in foods like spinach, beet greens, and almonds. A specific group of microbes can neutralize oxalates when they are present. Oxalates are known to bind calcium, creating calcium oxalate (a.k.a kidney stones). If your microbiome does not house oxalate-neutralizing organisms, over time calcium oxalates may form, increasing the risk of kidney stones. This is one of the reasons why some people may find high oxalate foods on their minimize list. It doesn't mean they can't eat them at all, but should only eat them every third or fourth day.

How much do you minimize?

Each customer receives a customized list of foods that land in Superfood, Enjoy, Minimize, and Avoid. These lists are also customized by food types, such as proteins, vegetables, fruits, etc. This is how you will learn exactly how many minimized options you could have each day of each type of food!

We recommend limiting the intake of your Minimize foods to less than 20% of your daily food intake. You can eat them; you should just be more mindful about how much you eat.

But, keep in mind what we mentioned above. These are still foods you should minimize your weekly intake of (or just not eat at all) and you should not be having the same Minimize foods on a daily basis, if you choose to eat them. For example, if you love grapes but they’re on your Minimize list, try to eat them once a week rather than consuming only grapes as a daily Minimize fruit serving. The daily consumption may be too much for your system and could cause the food to become an Avoid on your next test.

If you would like to continue your research and understanding, please see our articles about your Viome scores and recommendations.

You can also learn more about how Viome creates your food recommendations with our webinar recording of The Signal in the Noise: How Viome Generates your Recommendations.