Over the past several weeks I have attempted to decipher some of the research behind probiotics and several things that may affect the health of your gut’s bacteria known as the microbiome.
As a reminder this is still, contrary to what some people would have you believe, a new field with much to discover especially in real live people. Much of what we know comes from animal models and we know far more about the mouse microbiome than we do the human one.
This has not stopped people from making broad sweeping generalizations and exceeding the data sets by far in an effort to be what I call “the firstest with the mostest”.
This seems to be a prerequisite in the field of supplement marketing
And it leads to all kinds of wild but generally harmless (and often worthless) creations that allow companies to say they were first with a new radical discovery. There is also a disturbing trend among anti-aging and regenerative medicine followers to try seriously unproven approaches suggested by non-medical personal.
Today we need to take a quick look at how the gut bugs may be affected by diet choices.
A recent comparison between the Mediterranean Diet and a “typical Western diet” is instructive.
The pre-clinical study was designed as follows
It is described in the quote below from Wake Forrest Medical Center:
“The Western diet consisted of lard, beef tallow, butter, eggs, cholesterol, high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose, while the Mediterranean diet consisted of fish oil, olive oil, fish meal, butter, eggs, black and garbanzo bean flour, wheat flour, vegetable juice, fruit puree and sucrose. The diets had the same number of calories.”
The outcomes suggested a 7% increase in “good bacteria” versus only a 0.5% increase by the typical Western Diet.
The inclusion of what sounds like a ton of sugar and HFCS is probably the tipping point, but notice the “bad” diet still had a small increase in “good” bacteria.
I mention this because the tendency of internet headlines is to use verbiage that implies that something “bad” happened which is a far cry from the reality of the above. A similar situation occurred in the JAMA article on fish oil published last month. Headlines stated “Throw Out Your Fish Oil” completely ignoring ridiculous study design and even the 7% improvement in the rate of heart disease compared to similar studies on statins that showed a slightly higher 12% and required other medications to achieve that as well.
I believe a good Probiotic to be the fastest most reliable way to improve the quantity and quantity of your gut bacteria.
A good diet can make it even better! I am not sure we have a clear understanding of what that is just yet.*
*No, no one has compared it to a Vegetarian, Paleo, or Keto diet but if I had to guess I would say the same thing I always do: reduce your total calories by 30% and avoid sugar and excess carbs to manage your insulin. I do not advocate metformin for this unless you are already diabetic or pre-diabetic.