Image Credit: Kristina DeMuth and pxhere. This image has been modified.

Change Your Diet; Change Your Microbiome

If whatever gut flora enterotype we are could play an important role in our risk of developing chronic diet-associated diseases (see What’s Your Gut Microbiome Enterotype?), can we alter our gut microbiome by altering our diet? Yes. Indeed, diet can rapidly and reproducibly alter the bacteria in our gut, as I discuss in my video How to Change Your Enterotype.

Concern has been growing that recent lifestyle trends––most notably the high-fat and high-sugar “Western diet”––have altered the composition and activity of our resident gut flora. “Such diet-induced changes to gut-associated microbial communities are now suspected of contributing to growing epidemics of chronic illness in the developed world,” yet it has remained unclear how quickly our gut bacteria could respond to dietary change. So, researchers prepared two diets: a “plant-based diet” rich in grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables, and an “animal-based diet” composed of meats, eggs, and cheeses. Neither diet contained refined sugars, as the researchers just wanted to test diets consisting of plant versus animal products. Within just one day of the animal-based diet hitting the gut, there was a significant shift.

What happens when you put a lifelong vegetarian on an animal-based diet? The vegetarian’s baseline microbiota was dominated by Prevotella, unlike everyone else eating a more standard American diet, who had large Bacteroides populations. Remarkably, the animal-based diet inverted the vegetarian’s Prevotella-to-Bacteroides ratio, causing the Bacteroides to outnumber the Prevotella within just four days on the animal-based diet. The entire gut flora got turned on its head and got completely reversed.

The fact that our gut can so rapidly switch between herbivorous and carnivorous functional profiles is probably a good thing in terms of evolution. If you bring down a mammoth and eat meat for a couple of days before switching back to plants, you want your gut to be able to deal with it. This flexibility is manifest in the diversity of human diets to this day, but what is the healthier state to be in most of the time?

Researchers looked at a number of different factors, such as the amount of short-chain fatty acids produced. Short-chain fatty acids, like acetate and butyrate, function to suppress inflammation and cancer, and our gut flora, when on plant-based diets, produce more of these than when on animal-based diets.

Other microbial metabolites, such as secondary bile acids, do the opposite, promoting the development of cancer. With a significant increase in bacterial enzyme activity to create these secondary bile acids on an animal-based diet, it’s no surprise there’s a significant increase in carcinogens like DCA, a secondary bile acid known to promote DNA damage and liver cancer. Microbial enzyme activity producing the rotten egg gas, hydrogen sulfide, also shoots up on an animal-based diet, which stinks because it’s stinky and also because it damages DNA and has been implicated in the development of inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis. Hydrogen sulfide is made by pathogens such as Bilophila wadsworthia and is increased on the animal-based diet, again within just days of adopting it, supporting the link between diet and the outgrowth of microorganisms capable of triggering inflammatory bowel disease. Conversely, the only pathogen you see more of on a plant-based diet is just a virus that infects spinach.


Do you know What’s Your Gut Microbiome Enterotype?

See more about gut microbiomes:

I’ve produced a series about the epic fermentation battle in the gut between protein and carbs that offers lots of insight on why it matters who we have living down there:

And check out some other videos on inflammatory bowel disease:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


75 responses to “Change Your Diet; Change Your Microbiome

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  1. I could never thank you enough for all this vital and life-changing information! I am so grateful I have found your website! Long life to you! :-)

  2. I did some research on Prevotella and Bacteriods gut species. I was rather disturbed to find that scientific literatures on Prevotella was rather crowded with negative coverage. Specifically Prevotella was associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Bacterial Vaginosis. It is also linked with human disease are: P. intermedia, P. melaninogenica, P. bivia, P. nigrescens, and P. disiens. P. intermedia is implicated in periodontal disease, usually in association with Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans.34 Prevotella species are also implicated in chronic sinusitis, middle ear infections, brain abscesses, and intraabdominal abscesses.

    I am curious what you think of these Prevotella linkages.

    1. Prevotella and Bacteroides are the genus. Very large groups of different bacteria.

      Now do some research on the Bacteroides and see what kinds of nasties they’re involved in.

      Prevotella are somewhat rare in our society and Bacteroides are more common, since we’re mostly meat eaters. So references to Prevotella in the literature tend to be more often associated with disease, since that’s where they’re more frequently found.

      Those disease-associated Prevotella are apparently not that representative of the whole genus, just what more often shows up in our literature.

      Thanks for taking the time to do your own research.

      1. Richard,

        Indeed the bacterial genus (or group) Prevotella contains almost 50 species. Some seem to be helpful and some seem to be remarkably unhealthy. The location of the bacteria is also enormously important. If it stays in the gut it can be useful. Other places it is a opportunistic pathogen.

        Apparently the work on what is good, its complex interactions and what is bad is in its infancy. For example P. copri CB7 strain (JCM 13464; DSM 18205) has been associated beneficial effects on glucose metabolism. It has also been shown linked to chronic inflammation in individuals infected with HIV.

        It may be a bit early to make a blanket statement about the benefits of Prevotella and Bacteroids. It will take an enormous research and time to determine what species of Prevotella is actually beneficial. Even some Bacteroids seem to display mutualism.

        In conclusion I think this article is stimulating but superficial and because of the nature of the research, incomplete and perhaps misleading.

        1. Bill
          I agree with you that this article is misleading in that there is good evidence that Prevotella are associated with chronic inflammation and autoimuune responses and these are the cause of all metabolic disorders from obesity to autism and MS so caution is needed when making claims as in this video as the research is in its infancy.
          http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/the-latest-advances-regarding-the-link-between-prevotella-genus-diet-and-its-impact-on-host-health/
          Also, this is one piece of research and the SGutProject that is monitoring the gut microbiota of different populations finds that the difference between omivores, vegetarians and vegans is that the non ominivores have larger numbers of total bacteroidetes sp ( bacteroides plus prevotella) and decreased actinobacteria such that the situation is more complex than presented.

    2. These studies show an association but we don’t know if the association is causal. Or if it is causal, which causes what. In other words, do the disease states cause microbiota changes or vice versa?

      The other possibility is that there may be common factors that both promote disease and result in microbiota changes. For example, both obesity and exercise levels have been shown to affect arthritis risk and progression, and also result in changes in microbiome species populations.

      Personally, I prefer to adopt diet and exercise regimes that promote healthy longevity and not worry too much about studies regarding individual biomarkers like these.

    3. Hi Bill- I completely see your point. We are learning a great deal, very quickly on bacterial populations in the gut and their complex roles and interacts with the human genome. We do know thus far that the more kinds of plants one eats, the more diverse the gut bacteria is, and that diversity as a general principle is desirable. We are also gaining a sense of which populations of bacteria rise and fall in response to dietary change. But the precise balance of which genus and species of bacteria that is ideal in every situation is not at all sorted out yet. Some species may be pathogenic in some settings and innocent bystanders in others.

      One way you could participate in this research is to join The American Gut Project: http://americangut.org, through which you can submit your own sample and have your microbiome analyzed for many different studies. The site lists what is known thus far from this giant, crowd-sourced science project. (My husband and I joined as we find it so fascinating.)

      -Dr Anderson, Health Support Volunteer

  3. ” . . . hydrogen sulfide, also shoots up on an animal-based diet, which stinks because it’s stinky.”

    I had always wondered why hydrogen sulfide stank~

  4. I have been thinking about gut bacteria, because of my cousin’s kidney failure and your video showing fatty kidneys. Fatty liver, I found things related to refined carbs, fructose and gut bacteria.

    Above, you have a link about the microbiome striking it rich on whole grains and whole grains and vegetables are what they keep warning my cousin not to eat. (I am not sure whether it is phosphorus or potassium.)

    They keep insisting that he has to eat white bread, not any other type.

    I feel like I would rather him eat no bread at all than eat white, because of the whole fatty liver thing.

    But my sense of wonder asks: I wonder if we took him off of all the extra phosphates from the meat and double boiled the vegetables, which are only 50% bioavailable to begin with, and the double boiling takes out another 43% possibly more of the phosphorous, could we lower the over all phosphorus enough to let him have whole grain breads?

    I know that some of the doctor moderators are probably watching me try to help my cousin in horror, because I don’t even understand the basics, but I want him to eat things to change his gut microbiome and to get the fat out of his kidneys and liver and pancreas and I want to see if we could get him off of his insulin and maybe that would stop hurting his kidneys.

    I don’t know how to do it, because his doctors are saying the opposite of everything I have said for the past year.

    1. Deb, It sounds like your cousins kidneys are failing due to diabetes. Over the long term, high blood sugars (and high blood pressure) damage the kidneys, making it harder for them to filter out everything from the blood. Potassium and phosphorus are two biggies that doctors want these patients to avoid, as failed kidneys have trouble filtering them.
      Here are some NF videos:
      https://nutritionfacts.org/2012/10/04/preventing-kidney-failure-with-diet/
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/treating-kidney-failure-through-diet/
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-not-to-die-from-kidney-disease/
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/which-type-of-protein-is-better-for-our-kidneys/

      1. Thanks Julie!

        Yes, I went to my cousin’s apartment and had him watch the videos.

        The problem is that he has been Stage 5 for months and isn’t wanting to go on dialysis and is genuinely contemplating just dying or ending up in the ER and making his mind up then.

        The doctors are pushing meat, maybe because he is thin, but he is frail and in pain and I have wanted him to try WFPB, but his doctors haven’t let him.

        I have sent him links and information for over a year, but showing up at his house and showing him the videos is the first time he expressed an interest.

        It just is opposite of what they are telling him to do and I mean opposite, opposite, opposite.

        I can’t mentally do the math that white bread and fructose and meat is suddenly good for him or that the phosphorus and potassium in plant products is suddenly so bad for him that he can’t eat it unless it is processed.

        He can eat canned pears and peaches with syrups, and not a pear or a peach.

        I know they have reasons, but it just seems like getting rid of the extra phosphates of the meats and not adding in the empty calories from fructose and staying away from the refined flour sounds better to me.

        I felt this same sense of “They are doing a crazy process” with the Cancer doctors for my mother and uncle and for my grandmother, who they genuinely wanted to kill faster, because of dementia and she was this laughs at everything, no pain at all, sweetheart. The only time she complained of pain was when they took her blood pressure in the hospital. They were, “She doesn’t know what she wants, because she has dementia, so we aren’t going to listen to her or to you.” oriented.

        And I was like, “Why are you trying to put this happy, sweet woman out of her misery, when it is you who is the one projecting the misery on her?”

        I had a few relatives who yelled at me and I said, “She is telling me that she wants to be alive” and they were, “Can’t you see that she is just saying that to make you happy?” and I was, “I am the one who is here with her and you are trying to make sense of things from a distance and she is saying that she likes being alive.”

        I listened to Chris’ story on the Food Revolution Summit and agree that somehow the doctors tend to do a bully, intimidation, fear-driven process.

        The whole hospital staff said, “We won’t let you have strong enough oxygen at home, so you will have to remove her nasal canula and put it in her mouth and she will be in misery” and other dire things like that.

        Not one of the things they said happened.

        When she couldn’t do IV antibiotics anymore, I waited until she got pneumonia again and that day, we stopped feeding her and lowered her fluid intake and I used extra patches and dried up her fluids and she died peacefully in her sleep. She was awake interacting the day she died, because I didn’t knock her out with morphine. I just paid attention to her and listened to her.

        There is a woman on a TED talk on strokes who can only speak with her eyes and her husband is listening to every letter. They should be listening to people with dementia and Alzheimer’s because they have things to communicate and them not listening is a crime against humanity.

        1. Hi, Deb,
          My mom had Alzheimer’s and I could swear she could understand me although she could not talk. She still had facial expressions….

        2. Hi Deb, thanks for your story. I read about your kind percevierance towards improving your family members with chronic diseases by encouraging them through better health and following Dr Greger message and food revulsion summit. I just wanted to say keep up the good work and wish you and family good health.

          1. Thank you so much.

            I needed encouragement tonight and I genuinely appreciate it.

            I am watching my whole family and my friends move closer to the grave.

            I can tell you that it has me up praying nights and might be part of my sleep problem.

            I watched the man in “Eating You Alive” who lost his whole family and I genuinely am upset listening to the Food Revolution Summit talking about pesticides and talking about the companies trying to make foods more addictive to the brain.

            My family has already lost a few of the male head of household young and probably didn’t know why even. I don’t know if the people getting money are having nightmares from the level of pain they are causing.

            History tells me probably not. I have been watching PBS specials of the conditions of workers who were in sweat factories or mines or farms in our country and there is such a disconnect between the people making money and the people being destroyed and the press isn’t covering this food industry the same way they covered those things, back then.

            The press just keeps pushing the concept of will power and self-control rather than manipulation of food.

            PBS does better, but it is still marketing “diets” generally, and they do it in a confusing way, because of how confusing it really is.

            It is heavy on my heart that it will take coverage to change things, but there are so many topics to “cover” that this isn’t reaching people enough to genuinely generate the type of change that is needed.

  5. My Paleo (leaning) friends always complain that the ‘meat’ in these studies is factory farmed (not healthy) and not grass fed or more natural. Does the study specify ‘meat quality’ in any way. Do moderators have evidence (or opinion) that it doesn’t matter how the meat was produced?

    1. Not factory farmed meat might have a slight edge in being healthy but if the animal is taken to a slaughter house the fear chemicals running through the animal facing death would be just as detrimental.

    2. Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your question! The only insight the article gives on the origin of the animal-based foods is the following:

      “Menu items for the animal- and plant-based diets were purchased at grocery stores and a restaurant, prepared by the experimenters, and distributed to the subjects daily.”

      “Subjects on the animal-based diet ate eggs and bacon for breakfast, and cooked pork and beef for lunch. Dinner consisted of cured meats and a selection of four cheeses. Snacks on this diet included pork rinds, cheese and salami. Ingredients for the plant-based diet, dinner meats and cheeses for the animal-based diet, and snacks for both diets were purchased from grocery stores. Lunchmeats for the animal-based diet were prepared by a restaurant that was instructed to not add sauce to the food.”

      The info can be found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3957428/

      I hope this helps!

    3. I am not a moderator but I would comment that grass fed beef probably contains less fat than grain fed beef and perhaps has a better fat and maxronutriuent profile. That may make it less unhealthy. But it doesn’t make grass-fed beef heef healthy compared to eating no meat at all.

      The World Health Organization assessed the evidence and concuded that red meat is probably carcinogenic. Grass fed meat doesn’t appear to be protective. In countries like Uruguay where the beef is grass-fed, no artificial hormones etc, cancer rates still go up with increased meat consumption.

      Red meat has also been linked to heart disease. The country with the highest heart disease death rate is apparently Kazakhstan. Their beef is apparently grass fed and organic too although they tend to favour (organic) horse meat over beef.

      All red meat – grass fed or not – also contains eg carnitine, Neu5Gc, heme iron, IGF-1 etc which have been associated with higher risk for cancers and cardiovascular disease

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3650111/?_scpsug=crawled_1763098_80e856c0-7abc-11e7-f73a-f01fafd7b417
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-inflammatory-meat-molecule-neu5gc/
      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140423170903.htm
      https://nutritionfacts.org/2013/02/14/animal-protein-and-igf-1/

      The key point though is that there is no evidence that eating grass-fed beef delivers lower mortality or morbidity compared to not eating meat at all. Just a a long confusing and complicated chain of reasoning that it just must be healthy because …………. well because.

      As I think Panchito once quipped, all this stuff about tobacco causeing heart disease and cancer doesn’t apply to tobacco grown in the Himalayas – that comes from pristine mountain regions with clean air and nutrient rich soils and is uncomtaminated with chemical additives. Himalyan tobacco is good for us.

      I don’t think there is any such thing as Himalyan tobacco but the absurdity of that argument shows up logic failure of the grass fed meat argument. It appears to be little more than wishful thinking and self-deception.

      1. Tom,

        You are the next best thing to a moderator.

        And, you are almost always here before they are and give more information to clarify subjects.

        Thank you for that.

  6. I’m on my 3rd week of a WFPB diet, I’m determined to make it a life style change. I have dealt with IBS (constipation) for decades. I haven’t noticed much difference yet, does it sometimes take a while to correct itself?

    1. Could you try drinking a minimum of two litres of filtered water (or herbal tea) every day to help move things along? I find starting the day with at least 600mls of warm water wakes your system up.

    2. Congratulations! Stick with it, full changes can take a month or two. A WFPB diet is very helpful for constipation so do not lose hope. I’d suggest assuring you include greens every day, like a large salad with mixed greens and veggies for lunch. Also drink plenty of water. Combined with an overall high fiber WFPB pattern, this has a great chance of solving constipation.

      -Dr Anderson, Health Support Volunteer

    3. I had the same problem as you. It took just over three weeks to correct, so give it time. Good luck with the WFPB diet. You won’t regret it.

  7. This 2 May 2018 report from ScienceDaily may be relevant

    “Researchers at Western University and Lawson Health Research Institute have shown a novel relationship between the intestinal microbiome and atherosclerosis, one of the major causes of heart attack and stroke. This was measured as the burden of plaque in the carotid arteries.”
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180502115949.htm

    One of the microbiome metabolites specifically identified in this latest study as being associated with ibcreased risk, is TMAO. Dr Greger has already done several videos on TMAO eg

    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/carnitine-choline-cancer-and-cholesterol-the-tmao-connection/

  8. Dr Mirkin’s latest newsletter just arrived in my inbox. It included these observations

    “Differences Between Healthful and Harmful Colon Bacteria
    The healthful bacteria in your colon are perfectly happy to eat the same foods that you do, so they stay within the colon and do not try to invade the cells lining it. The harmful types of bacteria try to penetrate the cells lining your colon and your body responds by turning on your immunity to its full ability to fight the invading bacteria. This is called inflammation. After your immunity kills invading germs, it is supposed to shut down. However, with the constant invasion of your colon cells by harmful bacteria, your immunity continues to stay active, using the same cells and cytokines that kill germs to attack your own body. This inflammation causes or worsens virtually all of the common intestinal disorders: ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer and so forth. The same inflammation can damage DNA to increase your risk for cancers, punch holes in your arteries to start plaques forming there, and even cause heart attacks by breaking off the plaques.

    Lifestyle Factors that Encourage the Growth of Healthful Bacteria
    • Exercise: This new study and many others suggest that exercise is a healthful way to increase the colony of good bacteria in your colon. Another study showed that competitive athletes had much healthier ratios of the healthful to harmful colon bacteria than non-athletes (Gut, April 2018;67(4):625-633). Animal studies show that exercising improves the composition of healthful bacteria in your gut to reduce excess body fat (PloS one, 2014;9(3):e92193), improve immunity (Environmental Health Perspectives, 2013;121(6):725-30), reduce inflammation (Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, 2012;61(8):1058-66), improve insulin sensitivity (Frontiers in Endocrinology, 2014;5:137), and improve mental function (Cell, 2014;156(1-2):84-96). Exercise decreased the ratio of the harmful firmicutes to the healthful bacteroidetes in the colons of male mice to prevent diet-induced body fat increase and bone loss (PLoS ONE, 2015;10(5):e0125889; Bone, March 28, 2018).
    • Diet: A high-fiber diet, full of vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains and nuts, increases growth of healthful colon bacteria (Gut, 2014;63(12):1913-1920). Bacteroidetes are examples of healthful bacteria and Firmucutes are harmful bacteria. A high ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes is associated with obesity, type II diabetes, and high blood sugar (Beneficial Microbes, 2014;5(1):33-43). Several studies show that healthful colon bacteria can lower high blood sugar levels that help both to treat and to prevent diabetes (Diabetologia, Jun 2017;60(6):943-951). You also encourage the growth of healthful bacteria by maintaining a healthful weight.”

      1. It is interesting that exercise affects the microbiome that much.

        I wonder if sleep directly affect the microbiome?

        And stress hormones?

          1. Does anybody have good levels of these, so I can come interact with you. I might be deficient.

            Better sleep quality was related to better cognitive flexibility and higher proportions of the gut microbial phyla Verrucomicrobia and Lentisphaerae.

            1. A quote from the gut microbiome site:

              http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/timing-food-consumption-influences-human-salivary-microbiota/

              Although recent research in humans has found that the gut microbiota follows a circadian rhythm in vitro and responds to fluctuations in the hormone melatonin, further studies in humans related to the circadian rhythms in vivo are necessary and the exact mechanisms accounting for the observed bacterial rhythms have not been shown yet.

              1. Just flipping through the microbiome research iss kind of cool.

                Here is a two step jump making me hypothesis that SALT MAY prevent the benefit of gut microbiome associated weight loss by lowering the lactobacilli in the gut microbiome:

                The web-site didn’t say that, I am saying it, by combining two of their articles, which were close together.

                Salt depletes Lactobacilli:

                http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/salt-depletes-lactobacilli-gut-may-partly-involved-autoimmune-hypertension-linked-immune-dysfunction/

                Lactobacilli is associated with weight loss.

                http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/new-review-covers-current-scientific-evidence-weight-manipulation-targeting-gut-microbiota/

                In obese adults 2.7 x 1010 colony forming units (cfu)/day of Lactobacilli probiotics for 2-3 months was associated with significant weight loss.

                It gives a rationale for not using salt for people who don’t have high blood pressure or it gives a rationale to maybe take lactobacilli probiotics if you are addicted to salt.

                Do the probiotics work any better than the supplements?

  9. I’m having trouble consuming beans. When I eat them, the next day I check my urine pH and the first two or three readings are very acidic (4.5 – 5.5). I am also consuming various vegetables and fruits. Is there something going on it my digestive system? Am I lacking an enzyme or probiotic?

  10. Hi Maryann- There are many factors that affect urine pH, including foods and medications among other things. In general, the pH of the urine provides balance to the blood pH. It’s the blood pH that needs to be kept without a tight range. In general, meat and diary lead to acidified urine, and fruits and vegetables lead to more alkaline urine. While 4.5-5.5 is lower than the usual average urine pH of 6.0, normal urine pH can include 4.5.

    I would steer you away of trying to modify the urine pH, and focus more on whether you have a medical condition that needs address.

    -Dr Anderson, Health Support Volunteer

    1. I have been trying to modify my urine pH because of osteoporosis and a recent diagnosis of early stage of kidney disease.

  11. Off-topic from the gut microbiome, but….

    Susan Peirce Thompson was on the Food Revolution Summit and I went to her web-site for eating and she does a no flour in any form and no sugar in any form eating and she said that it isn’t white flour, to her it is any flour that causes problems in the brain.

    Pondering the flour issue.

    For pasta, I have tried lentil pasta, chick pea pasta and green pea pasta and for breads, I have been doing Ezekiel Bread or a gluten free multi grain bread or rye.

    I am going to say this….

    I have been here for months loving science and loving research and loving everything, but every time I wander to someone else, I get confused again and want to hear what you say, too.

    The thing is, that I also listened to Dr. Barnard on dairy and I mean it, I have been so happy and his keeps in line with what I am doing and hers would have to make me permanently give up every pasta and bread and my quarterly slice of birthday cake.

    I guess if what I am doing doesn’t get me all the way to healthy, hers might be the next addition, but I like Dr. Barnard’s not having to think about anything, plus, adding in the superfoods.

    It has been easy.

    Hers would be harder.

    Maybe next year if I haven’t lost enough weight.

    I am losing weight.

    I think I am losing a pound per week right now, so I guess I just don’t want to be more confused right now.

    1. I guess I feel like giving up the cheese and milk and soda and coffee and most junk food and most processed food and going organic and trying to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and spices and herbs and getting servings of beans every day has been so much work.

      She is going to cause my brain to tilt.

      1. I honestly feel discouraged after listening to her.

        I feel confused again and everything feels complicated again.

        Luckily it is the weekend.

    2. Deb

      I don’t think that anybody really knows whether whole grain breads and pastas are actually healthful compared to eating no flour products at all in the context of a whole foods pant based diet. The studies just haven’t been done.

      However, in principle wholegrain flours are really processed foods rather than simple whole foods so it’s probably best to avoid flours – and I write this as someone who eats a lot of 100% wholegrain rye and wheat bread, and wholegrain pasta. Yes, they are better than refined fours but we don’t know if they are actually healthful or just less unhealthy than breads made using refined flours.

      Alternatives include wholegrain rice (much less processed), steel cut oats, maize/sweetcorn and (as in the Okinawan diet) sweet potato. -as long as you consume the potato skin/peel There are others too if you want to Google this.

      The one definitive statement I would make is that multigrain bread is not healthful “Multigrain” is usually just marketing speak for refined grains of various types. Go for 100% wholegrain breads and pastas instead. The Pritikin site has some useful tips on how to choose the best wholegrain products

      https://www.pritikin.com/your-health/healthy-living/eating-right/9-whole-grain-hype.html
      .

      1. Tom,

        That is seriously helpful.

        Yes, I read about “multigrain” often having more sugar and things like that than regular bread and the food industry people are so tricky.

        Thanks for the help in finding ones that are better.

        I don’t think I am ready to give up all pasta and bread and tortillas just yet.

        I do like sweet potatoes and oatmeal, but Winter is such a hard season to find organic fruits and vegetables and I am so picky about them.

        I also like corn, but I don’t find corn “filling enough” as a meal.

        Pasta is filling enough that I could just add a can of diced tomatoes and some herbs and genuinely be more than satisfied.

        I feel the same way about tortillas. I just throw every vegetable I can find in them and I use salsa or guacamole for dressing and it is so satisfying.

        Salad, I don’t feel like I ate a meal. It can be the exact same vegetables and probably is, but the wrap makes it feel like a meal.

        I know I can just up my chick peas and edamame and eat salad every day and would probably be okay, but flour is harder for me to give up than dairy.

        I am probably going to do more Ezekiel bread, because Dr. Greger talked about “fiber” ratio and I think that was the bread, which made the cut.

        I will go to the Pritikin site.

        Thanks again, you have so much wisdom and understanding of these topics.

      2. I read this explanation on the Pritikin page and laughed.

        ““Whole grain” on a product’s cover, for example, means that as little as 51% of the flour must be whole grain.

        “Multigrain” means a combination of grains, so the product could be mostly refined grains with just a pinch of whole grains.

        “Good source of whole grain” is as little as 8 grams per serving.

        “Excellent source of whole grain” means as little as 16 grams per serving. So a breakfast cereal, which usually weighs between 30 to 55 grams per serving, could advertise itself as an “excellent source of whole grain” when in fact only 30 to 50% of its grain is whole.”

        I honestly don’t even know how to process that information.

        I think I have to go to the Ezekiel Bread page and see what they say.

        Is this going to be a “buy your own grains and make your own bread” type of a situation?

        1. Okay, this is a cool answer: Ezekiel Bread products are made without flour!

          That just made things a lot easier!

          From their FAQ:

          “. By contrast, Food for Life sprouted breads are made from freshly sprouted grains, which contain all of the fiber, bran, vitamins and minerals of the original grain plus a sizeable increase in those nutrients.

          Q: How can Food for Life make bread without flour?

          A: We start with whole, certified organically grown grains, beans and seeds, and sprout them in water. Then, we take the freshly sprouted live grains and slowly mash them, mix them into dough in small batches and slowly bake into bread.”

            1. Just thought I would mention talking bread and all that…
              There are significant other sources such as Brazil nuts but in a common diet, breads may serve as a significant source of selenium above most others.
              The bread I eat one slice is 20%. Excess selenium is a problem as well however.

              I live in a forest and am bothered by mice continually so researched this in relation to hantavirus. There is a study which corresponds suseptability to the disease and related hemoraggic disease to low selenium levels in foods grown in certain areas. The study focused mainly on China. It presupposes this may account for the relatively recent incidence of the diseases and also supposes rodents may suffer this same cause.

              Selenium content varies in a food as per the actual content in the soil. Soils that are overused for crop growing may tend to have lower levels.

              I personally am wondering if antiviral agents like Tamiflu have any result on this hantavirus but have found no evidence yet they do.

              1. Ron,

                Thanks so much! That is something to consider as I figure this process out.

                (You also reminded me that I have a container of Brazil Nuts, which I eat my 4 nuts out of, which I remembered for a few months, and may remember again someday, but first I have to figure out bread.)

  12. I am laughing tonight, because earlier this morning, I went out and got my Ezekiel bread products. I like their English muffins, sometimes, with powdered peanut butter for breakfast, and I am going to have a loaf of their bread in the freezer at work.

    The reason I am laughing is that my friend who is FodMap was in town and we went out to the movies with my Keto / Dr. Amen oriented friend and with my “Eat everything in moderation” friend and afterwards, we wanted to go to a restaurant, but all of our dietary needs are different and what ended up happening is that we ended up at a pizza place, which blew all of our diets equally.

    I did manage moderation, but the moderation person ate more than when she eats non-pizza, so, yes, all of us blew it.

    My poor gut bacteria. I started off well, but veered into the cheese and flour traps, but at the end, we were talking about Ezekiel bread and they are going to be getting Ezekiel Bread to try, too and one of them is going to walk with me on the weekends, so it all worked out.

    I feel a little sick after and ended up having some sort of allergic reaction where my eye swelled up and I got a rash on my hand, but it was a fabulous visit.

  13. I didn’t enjoy the pizza, which shows me that my brain has replaced the emotions of pizza with “my poor gut bacteria.”

  14. Hi, I’ve seen Dr Greger’s video”40 year vegan dies of a heart attack” and I was stunned. This video dates back to 2002 and shows there was no difference in health and longevity between vegans and non vegans. I’d like to know which study between 2002 and 2012 where he states the contrary that changed this conclusion and why. Does anyone know the answer to this question?
    Thank you!

    1. That was the first video I watched of Dr. Greger’s.

      In the video, he talks about the Omega 3 / Omega 6 ratio and B-12 and explains what happens scientifically if you don’t have these things.

      Yes, there are Adventist studies and Blue Zone comparisons and long living culture comparisons that are what he is pointing to.

      In that video, he pointed to how vegans have lower weight and lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure and all these other factors, which should have given longevity.

      But we have been using oils and not taking B12 would be the bigger factors.

      When doctors like Dr. Ornish and Dr. Barnard have done studies, which do WFPB properly, it reverses disease and changes mortality positively. It just means that you have to do it properly to have the real benefit.

      1. It is the middle the night and what came to me is that, yes, we need to know the answers, because Dr. Greger gave two.

        Omega 3 to 6 ratio
        B-12

        But, I agree with you, the results are shocking enough that I want to make sure that the answer is complete and I immediately thought of something, which makes me know that it isn’t a complete enough answer.

        The first would be “exposure to pesticides, from eating more fruits and vegetables” and I looked it up, and, yes, in one study, there was a 26% increase in heart attacks.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772249/

        There was more than one study. They did one study with men and one with pre-menopausal woman and one with the elderly and they all found links to heart disease.

        The elderly focused on atherosclerosis increasing https://beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/2011/10/new-research-links-pesticides-to-cardiovascular-disease/

        The women focused on disruption of hormones.

        I looked up pesticides and cancer and pesticides and Alzheimer’s and yes, the fact that vegans actually do eat their fruits and vegetables and nobody else does may have also been a factor, because pesticides are linked to 9 diseases.

        https://www.naturalhealth365.com/pesticides-toxic-chemicals-1868-html

        1. And, yes, another of the answers to be looked at is the tofu products.

          Alas, I have to analyze soy products further, because that is what the soy police say is the biggest Round Up crop and they say that if soy isn’t fermented that it increases homocysteine.

          I do understand the soy studies Dr. Greger has presented, and am not afraid of soy, but I can go to people like Dr. Axe and he will call fermented soy products healthy and will call things like tofu and edamame not heathy https://draxe.com/what-is-tofu/

          I will confess that I love edamame and I am frustrated that is one food, where I don’t see an organic version on the shelf at Whole Foods.

          One of the reasons that I ponder this is that my friend’s vegan father died of brain problems, this year and they said that he lacked the enzyme to digest protein and that caused his brain problems. They said that it could have been genetic and life-long.

          But when I looked up tofu, I read that soy has Trypsin inhibitors: These compounds block trypsin, an enzyme needed to properly digest protein.

          And that would be something, which would increase homocysteine levels, which is what the soy researcher pointed to and I am wondering about that.

          They said, “Sprouting soybeans before making tofu reduces phytates by up to 56% and trypsin inhibitors by up to 81%, while also increasing protein content by up to 13% (2).

          Fermentation can also reduce anti-nutrients. For this reason, make sure to add fermented probiotic soy foods to your diet, such as miso, tempeh, tamari or natto.”

          Okay, I am not confused about miso, tempeh, tamari or natto. I am confused about edamame and tofu and want to make sure that Dr. Greger was thorough in his analysis based on that vegan study.

          1. When I tried Googling the vegans and mortality to see what other studies are out there, I came across a few ridiculously flawed studies where they say “vegans die younger” but in both of the studies, they grouped vegans and vegetarians together and one of the studies, they included fish eaters in the vegetarian group and, in fact, the fish eaters were by far the biggest section of the “vegetarian group” and I was looking and magazines like Cosmopolitan are putting it as if being vegetarian will cause people to die earlier and be more prone to mental illness.

            https://www.cosmopolitan.in/life/news/a6639/new-study-says-vegetarians-will-die-earlier-be-more-prone-mental-illness

            Faulty studies being done to cause a faulty dialogue happen all the time. It is the part of science, which is genuinely frustrating, especially, because these are the things, the media often brings up.

            It makes it so hard for a lay person to understand any of it.

  15. I suspect that the later study was the most recent 7th Day Adventist study where “vegetarians” had a clear mortality advantage over “non-vegetarians”. I put these words in quotation marks because that study defines vegetarians as people who do not eat meat rather than people whose diet consists entirely of vegetables (ie any edible plant or plant part). And they call people whose diet consists entirely of vegetables, “vegans” even though they may not have been actual vegans.

    However,I think the key point from that old video was that vegetarian and vegan diets are not automatically healthy. Beer and chips may be entirely vegetarian but they don’t constitute a healthy diet – nor do white bread, pasta, Oreos or a host of other highly processed foods that contain no animal products. Consequently, Greger advocates whole food plant based diets rather than vegetarian diets. He explains this briefly here

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyR9T_86pxg

    1. Yes, the answer he gave was all the processed food the vegans in that one study were eating having so much Omega 6 causing inflammation.

      The answer he gave was flax seed.

      Looking at the video again was good for me to do, because it becomes critical that vegans try to eat WFPB and it becomes critical to stay away from the oils and to eat the flax seeds, B12 and Omega 3 and, since I am often closer to vegan, I am taking an aspirin a day until I get this whole thing figured out.

  16. I am super frustrated. I really like Dr Wallach and Ben Fuchs of Critical Health News. I don’t think the debate should be plant vs animal but balance and eliminating bad stuff. Articles like this sound totally opposite

    1. Hi Kath,

      I am sorry to hear that you are frustrated.
      Have you watched Dr. Greger’s “How Not to Die” series?
      I think it would explain why he is not pro-meat.

      Each thing he chooses is based on studies. It is his wisdom of what the “bad stuff” is, but it is not personal. It is all based on the studies he has read.

      For example, chicken is highly linked to Cancer and has Super bugs and that it has saturated fats, which plug up the Pancreas causing Diabetes. He has covered organic chicken and the fact that it is slightly better, but 84% of it still has the “super bugs” to worry about.

      Meat, there are Super Bugs, and Viruses causing Cancer and the bad gut bacteria and those bad gut bacteria put off toxic byproducts and they use the carnitine in meat to grow tumors and tumors are fed with IGF1 Growth Hormone and Methionine in meat.

      Cow Milk, is not something human beings should ever drink and it has viruses and it has growth hormones and infants are already struggling with obesity,

      Cheese is 70% fat and is highly addictive and the fat you eat is the fat you wear, based on them examining the composition of people’s body fats, they could see what type of fats they come from.

      Fish increases the blood concentration of things like lead and mercury and is also linked with Cancer.

      The list goes on and on.

      What I can say about Dr. Greger is that he is willing to change his mind even from study to study, based on the latest research.

      He is willing to switch avocado to from a green light to a red light and back again, as the research reveals new information.

      The question is whether you can handle the information on things.

      I would like to hear, which things you feel like he threw out when it was good for people and I genuinely mean it, because your input can give good conversation here and can contribute to our understanding of things.

    2. Kath,

      I do want to acknowledge the emotion of feeling like Dr. Greger is saying things, which are hard to hear.

      When I first came, I didn’t think I would ever give up cheese, but eventually, I watched enough studies and not only don’t I eat it anymore, I have already reached the point where I don’t miss it and I am starting to lose weight post-menopause and that is a big deal.

      That mental processing component is something we all wrestle with.

      You have to wrestle with, which information to believe and, which risks to take all the time.

      Over the months, since I have been here, I have been more and more consistent at not eating GMO’s and today, I wanted a salad, but didn’t get one at my “favorite salad bar” because they don’t serve organic. A few months ago, that was “worth the risk” and now I have the thoughts, “That will hurt my gut microbiome” and is obesogenic and I suddenly had a break through thought that if I eat these stupid vegetables, they might be obesogenic and that might undo what I am doing.

      Everybody else around me is doing a different logic and they consider it worth the risk to eat conventional fruits and vegetables and I used to have that logic and I don’t want my change in belief system to offend them. My heart’s desire is to see the genuine conversations that you are talking about.

      1. So many reports I read say that you can’t trust the organic label because the producers just can’t keep up with demand and cheat. Unless I buy from a very small town local farmers market where I know the growers I also find that trust lacking. Better to eat a GMO carrot Than potato chips, which is my point . Although I try to avoid GMO Products fresh produce isn’t labeled

      1. that may be but i always feel better when taking tangy tangerine powder and i only take about 35% of recommended for awhile, then stop for away then start again

  17. What is the efficacy of fecal transplant when compared to diet? Can diet provide the same efficacy? Are unique bacteria impacted by modality? Thank you.

  18. I re-listened to parts of the Food Revolution Summit this weekend and one of the things, which was brought up is that part of the problem with things like antibiotics is that species of bacteria are going extinct.

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