While doing research for information on gut microbiota, I have been astounded once again by the range of material on the web. It spans anywhere from cutting edge science to soft science with some reasonably practical advice to downright hokey nonsense. Unfortunately the nonsense often plays on our desire for easy or magical roads to health and attracts numerous followers who then, like evangelists, spread the deception. If this blog is to be of any value, my job is to take what I know, enhance it with the latest science, exclude the pseudoscience and make it understandable, interesting and practical. That’s not an easy task and I’ve been rightly accused of being overly “doctor-ish” at times. Would love to hear more feedback in that regard. How can I improve these posts to make them more practical and understandable?
Before I finish this series with some practical tips, a brief review may be helpful. I couldn’t resist starting with Dr. Granny’s (Granny Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies) common cold cure as a caution against over zealous probiotic pill promoters. I noted that there are 100 Trillion guests living inside of us which are intended to be health promoting. Next came definitions of probiotic and prebiotic – helpful microbes which can be ingested in food or pill form and the indigestible foods which help them prosper. I discussed the establishment of healthy gut microbes in infants and pointed out that c-sections and infant formula (in place of breast milk) may hinder this process. I then mentioned the significant impact of healthy gut flora on immune function and noted that several autoimmune diseases are closely correlated with disrupted gut microbes. Finally, I tacked the conditions most interesting to me as we look for lifestyle related cures -obesity and diabetes. I looked at the correlation between these conditions and bad gut bugs then moved to compelling studies in mice, studies in humans and an example of a scientist who has shown dramatic results of weight loss and disease reversal in himself and many others by changing to a diet of prebiotics and fermented foods. Next post will focus on what we can do to preserve and/or restore healthy gut microbes.