Last updated on October 15th, 2021 at 05:14 pm
A popular new trend in the health world is to take a look at your gut microbiome. Why does this matter? The gut microbiome is the microbes—like good and bad bacteria—that live inside your gut. This might sound creepy and weird, but the microorganisms living in the gut are helpful—when they’re balanced, that is.
When they’re unbalanced, which is easy with the influences of our world, they can throw off your health. In the gut, an unbalanced microbiome can mean your body won’t properly absorb nutrients from your diet, leading to inflammation which tends to lead to a variety of health problems.
How do you know whether your gut biome is balanced or not?
On the one hand, you can do what I did when my stomach (ok, my whole digestive tract) was not doing well: see your primary care doctor, get a referral to a gastroenterologist, who will then send you home with a “sample kit” that you have to rush back to the hospital, wait a few weeks, then go see the doctor to get your results.
Thankfully, there are now at-home gut health tests that can help you measure what’s going on in your gut. They can tell you a lot about your health and how to improve it. This article will compare three of these brands: Viome vs Thryve vs Everlywell. We’ll let you know more about each one and help you decide which one you might like to try. Plus, we’ll dig into the different diagnostics offered by Viome and Thryve and compare them to food sensitivity tests offered by companies like Everlywell (Spoiler alert: Everlywell’s offering can help you identify foods and ingredients that are making your stomach upset.)
What do gut health tests by Viome and Thryve show you?
You can learn a lot more from at-home gut health tests than whether your microbiome is balanced or unbalanced. With these products, you could learn personalized information about how your gut is working, including:
- Whether your individual microbiome is not working properly to process certain foods and nutrients
- Whether you’re getting unhealthy growth of pathogens inside the microbiome
- Personalized recommendations like supplements for supporting your microbiome
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic believe that your gut microbiome can help promote a health immune system and can help you maintain a healthy weight. These researchers are also trying to expand upon evidence that the microbes in your gut may play a role in preventing or improving symptoms of allergies, asthma, constipation, diarrhea (I could have told you that one!), IBS and other conditions.
Who should get a gut health assessments?
According to Dr. Darcy McConnell, a board-certified family medicine physician at Parsley Health New York, gut microbiome tests can be helpful if you’ve had GI issues for an extended period of time and you can’t easily find a direct link with the food you consume. Basically, if your diet is pretty healthy but you still have gut problems, a diagnostic service like this can help you determine what is going on.
How do Thryve’s and Viome’s gut health tests work?
Here’s a basic idea of the process for an at-home gut health test:
1. Order your kit online. Viome has its Gut Intelligence Test, and Thryve offers a Gut Health Test. Viome also has the option of its Health Intelligence Test that check several health indicators on top of gut health.
2. Receive the kit in the mail.
3. Collect a stool sample from the comfort and privacy of your own home. The kit gives you everything you need to take the sample yourself.
4. Return your sample. You follow the instructions to send the sample to the lab; both Viome’s and Thryve’s kits have postage prepaid return boxes included for easily mailing.
5. Get your results within weeks. The timing varies by the brand. Viome takes 3-4 weeks, while Thryve guarantees results in two.
6. Receive your recommended supplements in the mail (if necessary / applicable).
Which at-home gut health test is the most accurate: Viome vs Thryve?
The following chart helps you compare Viome and Thryve to find the best one for your needs.
Home Gut Health Test Comparison: Viome vs Thryve
|Gut testing offered||Gut Intelligence Test||Gut Health Test|
|Collection method||Stool sample||Stool sample|
– Microbial gene expression
– 20+ subscores on microbial activity, inflammation, gut lining health and other information
– Nutrition recommendations
– Microbiome health report
– Comprehensive actionable insights
– Personalized probiotic and dietary recommendations
|Time until results||3-4 weeks||2 weeks or less guaranteed|
|Gut Health Test Cost|
– Health Intelligence Test with gut test and full body health tests
– Monthly subscriptions including testing and supplements
|– Gut test with probiotic subscription|
|Trial offer||$220 off||65% off|
|How to order|
How do you collect sample stool for a gut test?
|The great news about Thryve and Viome is that they’ve thought deeply about the sample collection process. (And yes, by sample, we mean poop, just to be 100% clear.) Having taken a “normal” feces sample for my gastroenterologist, I can tell you one of the things that Viome and Thryve got totally right is how you get the sample. It’s still not “fun” but it’s way less gross.||Viome Sample Collection Video
Deep dive on the gut health checks by Thryve and Viome
Is Viome legit?
Viome uses metatranscriptomic sequencing to rapidly sequence the entire activity of microbial gene expression – basically, their test can quickly determine most of the microbial activity inside of your gut. This includes determining if your microbes can not digest particular nutrients, protein, etc. It can also determine if you are eating too much of some minerals like Iron.
Viome works with the Mayo Clinic and other reputable medical institutions to advance personalized medicine, and has a number of peer reviewed clinical studies published on their site (like this one). However, it is important to note that most dietary supplements like the ones offered by Viome are not regulated or approved by the FDA. Overall, it’s a very reputable company.
Is Thryve legit?
Thryve has a number of doctors and Ph.D.’s as advisors, and is using microbiome genetic testing to create personalized gut-health dietary supplements and probiotics. The company identifies the bacteria in a sample by analyzing the RNA, which is an inexpensive and common way to do microbiome testing. Thryve claims that their supplements are better able to survive through the challenging environment in your digestive tract and activate successfully, although it’s hard for us to verify this given how differently everyone’s digestive tract can be. And, like Viome, it’s important to remember that the dietary supplements offered by Thryve are not regulated or approved by the FDA.
What’s the difference between a gut microbiome test and a food sensitivity test?
It can be hard to figure out the right assessment to take with so many options available. You might wonder whether to take a gut microbiome test or a food sensitivity test. What’s the difference?
In a way, the gut health test and the food sensitivity test are similar: they both inform you about how your diet is affecting your gut. They’re both related to your immune system.
But the gut microbiome one shows you if there are certain nutrients your body is not using properly and it can let you know the best foods and supplements for your unique body. Ultimately, the goal of the microbiome assessment is to look at the balance of microbes in your gut and how you can improve that balance.
On the other hand, a food sensitivity test checks to see if your body has the likelihood of symptoms from eating specific foods. This would mean eating certain foods could trigger symptoms like an upset stomach, bloating, and more.
When should you take a gut health test (like Viome or Thryve) vs a food sensitivity test?
|When to take a food sensitivity test: This option is right if you’re experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, headaches or fatigue after eating certain foods. Note that if you have these symptoms, discomfort or pain for an extended period of time you should talk to your doctor, as these can be signs of serious medical issues.||
When to take a microbiome (gut health) test: This is recommended if your goals include losing weight, having more energy and improving your immune system, digestion and mood. It’s also recommended for people with chronic illness.
Is a food sensitivity test what you’re looking for? Three potential options for food sensitivity assessment providers are:
These are both finger prick tests that check your body’s response to 96 foods. You do the test at home and send it in to get your results. We’ve reviewed My Lab Box vs Everlywell’s STD testing options — not the same goal as getting a food sensitivity kit from them– but it will give you some more detailed information on the user experience with those two at-home testing companies.
The following chart gives you more info about these two food sensitivity tests.
Food Sensitivity Test Comparison: Everlywell vs My Lab Box vs Notch
|Number of foods tested||96||96||96|
|Testing method||Finger prick||Finger prick||Finger prick|
|Trial offer||20% off with code (FS20)||20% off with code (Jill20)||25% off with code (NH25)|
|Other food sensitivity offerings||Food Sensitivity Comprehensive Test checks more foods for $259||❌||Expanded food sensitivity test ($185), as well as test for specific types of cuisines including:
Just to recap the difference between a gut health one and a food sensitivity assessment, let’s compare some of the most popular of each type of diagnostics:
Everlywell vs Viome: Which is better for understanding your gut?
Everlywell offers a food sensitivity test, which requires a finger prick blood sample and checks for almost 100 foods that may be causing you discomfort; it only costs $159.
Viome’s gut health check uses a DNA sequencing technique to analyze the most active microbial activity in your GI (you have to supply a stool sample; collection material is included in their kit), and costs $199, although it is often on sale for $99.
The Everlywell food sensitivity test may be the best bet if you are only dealing with an upset digestive system and want to see if particular foods are bothering you. You can sign up and get 20% off with code FS20.
What’s the best at-home gut health test: Viome, Thryve, Everlywell, Notch, or My Lab Box?
How do you choose between Viome, Thryve, Everlywell and My Lab Box?
First, you’ll want to decide whether you’re looking for a microbiome gut health test or a food sensitivity test.
Thryve offers faster results (2 weeks vs 3-4 with Viome) and MUCH more affordable pricing at just $59 per test (thanks to our 70% discount!), while Viome’s costs $79 (including the $220 trial discount). Also, Thryve claims that it is better than other brands because its kit has the highest accuracy with its proprietary liquid buffer. It also offers more thorough, actionable insights because its software has analyzed over 35,000 microbiome research articles and reviewed 4,000 microbes, connecting them to a long list of dietary foods and supplements. Plus, they offers probiotics. For all these reasons, Thryve is our #1 pick for at-home gut testing.
Viome also has its merits, too. It has a trial discount of $150 off its gut health test. Also, it offers monthly subscriptions with supplements. These include 30-day supplies of customized blends of vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, probiotics and other nutrients. While not everyone will want to get onto the supplement bandwagon, this is a solid option if you don’t mind taking pills and want more options to choose from once your test results are analyzed.
To test food sensitivity, Everlywell and My Lab Box are comparable in terms of the number of foods they analyze, their price, and testing methodologies. Everlywell inches slightly ahead because it has a generous trial offer of 20% off, which you can get by using coupon code FS20, and also offers a comprehensive product that checks even more foods — just in case your first standard test is inconclusive. You can see the full list of foods analyzed on Everlywell’s website.
That said, Notch is our top choice for food sensitivity tests because of the thoroughness of its offering. They even have at-home tests specifically for Japanese and Mexican foods, as well as comprehensive test to check everything under the sun if you haven’t a clue what your gut is reacting to.