What is Veillonella dispar and why is she a ‘good’ bug?

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 dispar — or “Veronica” as we call her — is one of the 15 “good” bugs. In this article, you can find out more about Veronica, 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 Veronica?

Veronica 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 Veronica in the guts of just under half of our study participants, 47% to be precise. 

Other members of the Firmicutes group include Lactobacillus, which you may be familiar with already. They are “good” bugs found in foods like yogurt.

Why is Veronica a ‘good’ bug?

Research indicates that Veronica is a common resident in the oral cavity and gut, and she’s also present in breast milk

Veronica produces propionate and acetate. These are chemicals called short-chain fatty acids, and they're important for good health. 

Veronica has caused serious infections, according to a small number of reports.

In our study, we saw links between having Veronica in your gut and having higher insulin sensitivity and lower inflammation levels. 

Higher insulin sensitivity and lower levels of inflammation are good for your body. 

Too much insulin isn’t good for your health, as it increases your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. 

Chronic, long-term inflammation can also increase your risk of these health conditions. 

What foods does Veronica 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, Veronica likes fruit, particularly apples, brown rice, and spinach. She doesn’t like white bread.

But the exact foods that will help Veronica thrive in your body depend on the combination of bugs in your gut. Since every person’s gut microbiome is completely unique, there is 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 Veronica, 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. 


Bacteremia caused by Veillonella dispar in an oncological patient. Anaerobe. (2020). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7563575/

Breastmilk feeding practices are associated with the co-occurrence of bacteria in mothers’ milk and the infant gut: The CHILD cohort study. Cell Host and Microbe. (2020). https://www.cell.com/cell-host-microbe/fulltext/S1931-3128(20)30350-4

Insulin: Too much of a good thing is bad. BMC Medicine. (2020). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7441661/

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

Veillonellae: Beyond bridging species in oral biofilm ecology. Frontiers in Oral Health. (2021). https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/froh.2021.774115/full