ZOE runs the largest study of nutrition and gut bacteria in the world, with data from over 40,000 people. We publish our research in top scientific journals, including Nature Medicine.
Our scientists have found 15 “good” gut microbes that are associated with indicators of good health and 15 “bad” gut microbes that are linked with worse health.
Veillonella infantium — or “Valentina” as we call her — is one of the 15 “good” bugs. In this article, you can find out more about Valentina, why she is a good bug, and what foods she likes and dislikes.
Fast facts about your gut microbiome
Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria and other microbes that make up your gut microbiome.
These microbes mainly feed on fiber and chemicals called polyphenols, which give plants their color, and turn these into chemicals that help support your health and weight control.
Your gut microbiome is unique and radically different from everyone else’s, unlike your DNA, which is 99% the same. Even twins only share 34% of the same microbes.
At ZOE, we use the latest and most advanced biotechnology to analyze the bacteria in your gut from a poop sample.
Using this technology, the ZOE program tells you your unique microbiome composition — including which of the 15 “good” and 15 “bad” bugs are in your gut — in order to recommend the best foods for you.
Who is Valentina?
Valentina is part of a group of bacteria called Firmicutes. If you looked at her under a microscope, you would see that her shape is spherical or round.
Our scientists found Valentina in the guts of just over one-third of our study participants, 39% to be precise.
Other members of the Firmicutes group include Lactobacillus, which you may be familiar with already. They are “good” bugs in foods like yogurt.
Why is Valentina a ‘good’ bug?
Scientists first discovered Valentina in 2018 and found that she can produce propionate and acetate.
These are chemicals called short-chain fatty acids that are important for good health.
In our study, we saw links between having Valentina in your gut and higher levels of polyunsaturated — or healthy — fat and lower inflammation levels.
Lower levels of inflammation are good for your body. Chronic, long-term inflammation can increase your risk of chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
What foods does Valentina like and dislike?
Our scientists have found links between specific foods that you eat and the 15 “good” and 15 “bad” gut bugs.
In general, Valentina likes wholemeal pasta, whole grains, and apples. She doesn’t like animal fats, butter, or white bread.
But the exact foods that will help Valentina thrive in your body depend on the combination of bugs in your gut. Since every person’s gut microbiome is completely unique, there's no one-size-fits-all diet that's right for everyone.
The ZOE program analyzes your entire microbiome and works out your unique “gut booster” and “gut suppressor” foods, so that good bugs, like Valentina, can flourish.
If you want to know the best foods for your body and your unique combination of gut bugs, take our free quiz today.
Microbiome connections with host metabolism and habitual diet from 1,098 deeply phenotyped individuals. Nature Medicine. (2021). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-01183-8
Short chain fatty acids and its producing organisms: An overlooked therapy for IBD? eBioMedicine. (2021). https://www.thelancet.com/journals/ebiom/article/PIIS2352-3964(21)00086-4/fulltext
Veillonella infantium sp. nov., an anaerobic, gram-stain-negative coccus isolated from tongue biofilm of a Thai child. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Biology. (2018). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29458564/