Flashback Friday: What’s Your Gut Microbiome Enterotype?

Flashback Friday: What’s Your Gut Microbiome Enterotype?
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There appear to be just two types of people in the world: those who have mostly Bacteroides type bacteria in their gut, and those whose colons are overwhelmingly home to Prevotella species instead.

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The human gut has a diverse collection of microorganisms making up around 1,000 species, with each individual presenting with their own unique collection. But it wasn’t known whether this variation is on a continuum or if people cluster into specific classifiable types, until this famous study analyzed the gut flora of people across multiple countries and continents and identified three so-called enterotypes. There were people who had lots of Bacteroides in their gut, people who had a predominance of Prevotella species, and people whose stool instead grew out a lot of Runinococcus species; pretty amazing that with so many hundreds of types of bacteria that people settle into just one of three categories. But they figure our guts are like ecosystems. Just like there’s lots of different species of animals on the planet, they aren’t randomly distributed. You don’t find dolphins in the desert. In the desert you find desert species. In the jungle you find jungle species, because each ecosystem has different selective pressures, like rainfall or temperature. Well, this early research suggested there are three types of colon ecosystems. You can split humanity into three types, people whose guts grow out a lot of Bacteroides type bacteria, those whose guts are better homes for Prevotella group bacteria, and those that foster the growth of Ruminococcus.

And if you think it’s amazing they were able to boil it down to fit everyone into one of just three groups, subsequent research on a much larger sample of people was able to fold Ruminococcus into Bacteroides, so now everyone fits into one of just two groups. So, now we know, when it comes to gut flora, there are just two types of people in the world: those that grow out mostly Bacteroides, and those that overwhelmingly are home to Prevotella species. The question is why? It didn’t seem to matter where you live, male or female, how old or skinny you are — what matters is what you eat. This is what’s called a heat map. Each column is a different grouping of bacteria and each row is a food component. Red is like hot, meaning a close correlation between the presence of that particular bacteria and lots of that particular nutrient in the diet. Blue is like cold, meaning you’re way off, a reverse correlation, meaning lots of that nutrient is correlated with very low levels of that bacteria in our gut. They looked at over a 100 different food components and a theme started to arise. This column is Bacteroides, and this column is Prevotella. Note how they’re kind of opposites. When it comes to things like animal fat, cholesterol, animal protein, Bacteriodes is red and Prevotella is blue, and when it comes to plant components like carbohydrates, Prevotella is red and Bacteroides is blue.

Here’s a simplified version, clearly showing the components found more in animal foods like protein and fat are associated with the Bacteroides enterotpye, and those found almost exclusively in plant foods are associated with Prevotella. So, no surprise African Americans fell into the Bacteroides enterotype, whereas most of the native Africans were Prevotella. The reason this may matter is Bacteroides species are generally associated with increased risk of colon cancer, our second leading cause of cancer death, yet almost unheard of among native Africans. The differences in our gut flora may help explain why Americans appear to have more than 50 times the rate of colon cancer.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to geralt via Pixabay.

The human gut has a diverse collection of microorganisms making up around 1,000 species, with each individual presenting with their own unique collection. But it wasn’t known whether this variation is on a continuum or if people cluster into specific classifiable types, until this famous study analyzed the gut flora of people across multiple countries and continents and identified three so-called enterotypes. There were people who had lots of Bacteroides in their gut, people who had a predominance of Prevotella species, and people whose stool instead grew out a lot of Runinococcus species; pretty amazing that with so many hundreds of types of bacteria that people settle into just one of three categories. But they figure our guts are like ecosystems. Just like there’s lots of different species of animals on the planet, they aren’t randomly distributed. You don’t find dolphins in the desert. In the desert you find desert species. In the jungle you find jungle species, because each ecosystem has different selective pressures, like rainfall or temperature. Well, this early research suggested there are three types of colon ecosystems. You can split humanity into three types, people whose guts grow out a lot of Bacteroides type bacteria, those whose guts are better homes for Prevotella group bacteria, and those that foster the growth of Ruminococcus.

And if you think it’s amazing they were able to boil it down to fit everyone into one of just three groups, subsequent research on a much larger sample of people was able to fold Ruminococcus into Bacteroides, so now everyone fits into one of just two groups. So, now we know, when it comes to gut flora, there are just two types of people in the world: those that grow out mostly Bacteroides, and those that overwhelmingly are home to Prevotella species. The question is why? It didn’t seem to matter where you live, male or female, how old or skinny you are — what matters is what you eat. This is what’s called a heat map. Each column is a different grouping of bacteria and each row is a food component. Red is like hot, meaning a close correlation between the presence of that particular bacteria and lots of that particular nutrient in the diet. Blue is like cold, meaning you’re way off, a reverse correlation, meaning lots of that nutrient is correlated with very low levels of that bacteria in our gut. They looked at over a 100 different food components and a theme started to arise. This column is Bacteroides, and this column is Prevotella. Note how they’re kind of opposites. When it comes to things like animal fat, cholesterol, animal protein, Bacteriodes is red and Prevotella is blue, and when it comes to plant components like carbohydrates, Prevotella is red and Bacteroides is blue.

Here’s a simplified version, clearly showing the components found more in animal foods like protein and fat are associated with the Bacteroides enterotpye, and those found almost exclusively in plant foods are associated with Prevotella. So, no surprise African Americans fell into the Bacteroides enterotype, whereas most of the native Africans were Prevotella. The reason this may matter is Bacteroides species are generally associated with increased risk of colon cancer, our second leading cause of cancer death, yet almost unheard of among native Africans. The differences in our gut flora may help explain why Americans appear to have more than 50 times the rate of colon cancer.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to geralt via Pixabay.

Doctor's Note

If our gut flora enterotype could play an important role in our risk of developing chronic diet-associated diseases, the next question is: Can we alter our gut microbiome by altering our diet? And the answer is — diet can rapidly and reproducibly alter the bacteria in our gut, the subject of the follow-up video, How to Change Your Enterotype.

Make sure you catch the first four in this series:

Who we have living in our gut may also play a role in autoimmune diseases. See Why Do Plant-Based Diets Help Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Since this video originally came out, I have even more on the microbiome. See:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

76 responses to “Flashback Friday: What’s Your Gut Microbiome Enterotype?

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  1. Interesting study.

    I noticed that both the Prevotella species (far right column) and the Bacteroides species (eighth column from the left) are from the same phylum (color coded yellow at the bottom of the chart). I guess that makes sense. I take it that that phylum of bacteria seems to dominate our gut flora, but divide into the two different species based on what food we give them to eat.

    Did I get that right?

    1. I think so. I followed the columns up and they are both in the color yellow. It is confusing that they are both Bacteroidetes. Easy to read it wrong when there are only 2 letters different. Must have been named by a meat-eater.

      1. Yeah, I was hoping to find a phylum called Prevotelletes or something – something that would be shaded a different color than Bacteroides. That’s why I investigated further.

        DR (below) says that both genera are from the Bacteriodetes phylum.

    2. dr Cobalt,
      This is a relatively new area and the cited sources now are old. There have been a lot of reports building associations between gut microbiome profiles and degenerative disease and various conditions. However a lot of this is very premature. I for instance have been WFPB no oil for five years and have a profile attributed to obesity and there is no chance in hell of me becoming obese now or at any time in the past before any refinement of my diet. On top of that my genetic profile might suggest increased risk of colorectal cancer but my diet and lifestyle make that highly unlikely.

      Specifically the principal Phyla referenced in this subject are Bacteriodetes and Firmicutes. There are others but these are the big ones. You are right that the Genus Bacteroides and Genus Prevotella belong to the Bacteriodetes Phylum, but for example the lactic acid bacteria oft cited as beneficial belong to the Firmicutes Phylum and bifidobacteria often used in probiotic foods for their “health giving “ properties belong to neither, but instead the Actinobacteria phylum.
      The testing of the gut microbiome profiles for any individual is fraught with technical difficulties (I won’t go into here) and your profile changes during the seasons and across the year. It is practically very difficult to make significant observable changes in your profile within a dietary classification. So you could be on the best WFPB diet and making changes in that may only be manifest in the other less abundant phyla but nevertheless important for the production of small chain fatty acids critical to gut and mental health.

      If you eat processed meat for example you will see low levels of campylobacter which is a food poisoning bacteria common on cold cuts of meat. Its low level presence is kept in check by good bacteria, but if you fell ill they may have the opportunity to cause trouble. It belongs to a Proteobacteria phylum which does not get a mention here.

      The food eaten primarily drives the balance of Firmicutes and Bacteriodetes and some specific characteristics of the other phyla. There is still considerable debate on what constitutes a healthy profile, not to mention an optimum one. The reality is the more diversity the better but we have been losing that diversity for quite some time and it ain’t coming back. So the best you can do is a WFPB diet and not fret about it.

      1. Very interesting, DR.

        [It is practically very difficult to make significant observable changes in your profile within a dietary classification. …you could be on the best WFPB diet, and making changes in that may only be manifest in the other less abundant phyla]

        So there is not necessarily a high correlation (red shading) favoring the Prevotella genus associated with feeding your biome mostly plant based compounds.

        1. The bacteria that inhabit the human gut like its environment and when removed from there, most cannot survive. Therefore many of the phyla have never been cultured in the lab. Lactic acid bacteria are a group that can, and their love of lactose – milk sugar makes them easy to cultivate in the laboratory and in industry. So “of course” they have to be the good guys. And “of course” then provide huge exploitable commercial opportunities for the likes of Danone to create a whole product category of probiotic foods, and patent their particular strain which “of course will work wonders for your gut and your health”. Anyone in this field will tell you that the probability of a single strain impacting positively your gut in this way is zero, and over the years EFSA has had Danone modify their outlandish product claims accordingly. But the business goes on.

          To profile the gut microbiome, stool samples are taken and the genetic material present is analysed from a section of the bacteria’s genetic material that is slow to evolve (16S rRNA). This technique has allowed scientists to “fingerprint” bacteria and classify them into groups. In fact it has enabled the reclassification of bacteria, so there have been many changes and shifts over the years. So essentially scientists are back calculating from genetic analysis what the bacterium looks like although they have never seen it. Furthermore they are determining from its genetics how its metabolism works and what it can eat and what it cannot, and what it can produce and what it cannot.

          So taking the video information above referring to Bacteroides and Prevotella; if you were to get your stool sample analysed it is quite likely the lab will group its findings under headings of bacteroides-prevotella group and prevotella species separately. So the classifications are still, let’s say somewhat fluid and evolving. I would be described as a hard-core WFPB proponent, yet my prevotella abundance is way down the list. When you look at the cited reference that dominated Dr. G’s talk the sample size is very small and the enterotype classifications somewhat “fragile”. To say that we all fall into the just two enterotypes, I’d say hold on a minute now. It was published in 2011 and the same scientists have gone on to do a lot more research since. There are also big questions about how reflective the stool sample is of the gut microbiome – I could go on, but will go off on a tangent.

          Yes you will significantly impact in a positive way your gut microbiota within two weeks going from omnivore to WFPB and after that it is a long journey which may have been irreparably compromised by past child rearing experience, antibiotic and drug exposure and other environment factors. When you read the detail of the cited work in this video all participants started as bacteroides enterotype but in the diet challenge (only 10 days) none converted to a stable prevotella enterotype.

          If you are interested in this subject read Martin Blaser (NYU): Missing Microbes: how killing bacteria creates modern plagues.
          And if you want to get into some heavy stuff try the latest from some heavyweights in the field: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-12476-z#Sec9.
          What Dr G has indirectly highlighted is that groups of gut bacteria are more important in human health than individual species. An African American may improve his gut profile going from a SAD diet to WFPB but whether he will become like his continental Africa brothers in gut microbiome profile, is another story.

          We may be the intelligent lifeform but the microbiome is driving the bus. You would be amazed at how changes in it will affect everything from skin issues to quality of sleep. Mind blowing – literally. In animal studies you can take gut microbiome from an anxious mouse and transplant it to a non anxious one and make it anxious, and you can do the same with an autistic/non-autistic mouse.

          Now reflect on that for a while!

      2. I disagree.. not following modern societies hygiene protocol, and fermenting foods, and exposing yourself to the outdoors could surely strengthen the microbiome.. I think the factors involved are swaying the studies, since all people are comprising their boomers with normal day to day acceptable behavior.

  2. I have a gut feeling the dry clean only label on my umbrella was a mistake. I can’t get it wet? But with all this 5 g radiation
    and tech stuff coming out, it actually might zap and fix everyones health problems.

  3. The best thing for your gut is… to listen to it.

    And listen to the advice of 104 year old Dr. Ephraim Engleman and you will outlive and out-smart the competition 100% of the time.

    1. He’s been dead for 4 years. What do you recommend we do to listen to him – use a ouija board, hold a seance or visit a medium?

        1. So, you are suggesting Electronic Voice Phenomenon as the preferred means of communication?

          Good thinking – that never occurred to me.

    2. Yerky, I don’t understand what’s so unique about Engleman’s advice:

      “The centenarian always addressed his senior status with good humor, often sharing his top 10 list of “commandments’’ for longevity. They include: avoid air travel, have lots of sex, keep breathing, and most appropriately, “Enjoy your work, whatever it is, or don’t do it.”

      I agree with his #2 advice, but the others seem quite arbitrary, and no mention of food, probably the most important one for longevity.

      https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2015/09/131496/ephraim-engleman-one-worlds-oldest-practicing-physicians-dies-104

      1. He missed the dietary factors, but he did get the social factors right.

        He believed in being positive and in having a happy marriage and a happy family and laughing and having joy and meaning.

        I think Dr. Ornish and people like Norman Vincent Peale would agree. The Sardinians, I think emphasized social support.

        It is interesting that he didn’t even mention one food.

    3. Yerky,

      What about all the folks who had a very similar lifestyle to Dr. Ephraim Engleman and did NOT live to be 104? We don’t hear about them, but how many are there? When did they die, and from what?

      And what about all those who lived to be about 104 and did NOT share Dr. Ephraim Engleman’s lifestyle? How many are there, and what lifestyle did they have?

      In other words, anecdotes are interesting, but data is more reliable, predictive, and helpful to the rest of us.

      1. Whose advice should I follow? Provide their name age and their centenarian track record.

        There are many choices. Billions and billions and billions served at McD’s have followed Ronald McDonald’s advice but I wouldn’t.

      1. What I meant:

        Human Beings have been eating animal foods (starting with bone marrow and eggs) ever since the genus Homo arose.
        Shouldn’t someone try to figure out HOW MUCH animal food is healthy?

        BTW: I have heard repeatedly that Homos could not have evolved our huge brains without animal foods because plant foods require too much energy to digest, energy that would otherwise go to the brain.

        1. I too have heard lots of speculation about human evolution and big brains – it’s meat, it’s fish, it’s starchy tubers, it’s fat, it’s fruit, it was fire/cooking etc etc . The one you quote seems a bit facile.

          The energy costs of digesting raw meat are significant. There is no real energy benefit from eating raw meat with the teeth that we and our ancestors have/had. And competing with lions, hyenas, wolves etc for meat seems a pretty risky proposition in any acse

          I have heard it proposed that humans developed big brains before they could successfully hunt. They needed big rains to develop weapons and compete successfully with packs of lions, hyenas, wolves, wild dogs etc And to develop food processing technologies (cutting/dicing/pounding and later cooking) before cost-effective extraction of energy and nutrients from meat was possible.
          https://www.nature.com/articles/nature16990

          But of course this is in any case massively irrelevant. The fact that humans evolved to be able to eat meat and insects (we still possess the enzymes that allow us to digest chitin) doesn’t prove that we need to eat meat (or insects) to live long healthy lives. It’s a 2+2=5 argument.

          We should be asking ourselves where is the evidence that eating meat is healthful? I am not aware of any. Neither are you apparently since all you have ever been able to mention in all your posts over many years is an argument which epitomes the Appeal to Nature Fallacy…. ie humans have been eating animal foods for a long time therefore doing this mist be healthy. It’s a very obvious non sequitur and displays a profound ignorance of how evolution works. We can expect this sort of thing from paleo diet supporters which is why it is seen all over the internet. I still don’t understand though why you cling to it

          1. “We should be asking ourselves where is the evidence that eating meat is healthful? I am not aware of any.”
            – – – – –

            Unless we can count the testimonies of ex-vegans as “evidence.” Many report their health vastly improved once they incorporated animal foods (back) into their diets. Just sayin’.

            1. We can find testimonies for pretty much everything. Including massive health benefits from giving up meat. And testimonies for the effectiveness of breatharianism, baldness cures etc. So I don’t find testimonies alone convincing. Especially given the power of the placebo and nocebo effects on people who have certain expectations.

              But, sure, if people are eating nutritionally or calorifically inadequate diets, then adding animal foods will probably be beneficial. .People living on refined carbs and highly processed ‘vegan’ food products almost certainly would benefit from some meat. The question is whether eating meat by replacing calories from healthy whole plant foods with it, is beneficial. Or replacing fish, eggs and dairy.for that matter. Where’s the evidence for that?

                1. YR, re: “Would follow-up medical reports suffice as evidence?”

                  Are you implying you’re going to share with us the results of your upcoming blood test? ;-)

                  1. Yer so funny, Darwin. Not on your life! :-)

                    Anyway, I’ve never been a “vegan.” Although, I did try going without animal foods for 4-5 months back in 2010.

                    Nope, I’m heavy on the good stuff — i.e. veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, etc., but do have some animal foods in there somewhere too. Label-wise, a pescatarian, I guess.

                    1. YR, Actually, I eat a similar diet as you, adding to all the WPFs, a little crab meat every once in a while. Living near the Chesapeake Bay, it’s hard to avoid crabs in some form in social situations.

        2. There are plenty of calories in a cooked yam. But I don’t necessarily buy the vegan argument that humans always evolved on an almost entirely plant diet. Clearly once we became agrarian there were many populations that ate almost all plants with little animal intake. But humans have typically had an attraction to rivers and ocean or large lakes. We have that massive skew in population near water today. So fish and molluscs have been somewhat ignored in conversations. We do have midden piles with mollusc shells left by early man. Molluscs full of fatty acids required for brain growth. Once we have fire and some food then the calories to maintain a brain are easy. It’s the actual substance to develop and grow a brain that seems more important.

          Flax, chia and our amazing diversity of food availability kind of hide the fact that purely plant based diets can be a bit challenged for EFAs in some environs. Add a weekly ocean fish and EFA problems are solved.

          At any rate, many thanks to Dr. Greger for his wonderful work. The daily dozen is probably the best tool around for converting to a healthy diet.

          1. This site is based on high quality evidence in the form of peer reviewed studies. While your assertions may be entertaining to discuss, they hold no merit without published evidence. Dr. G has presented overwhelming evidence that humans throughout history have, for the most part, eaten an unprocessed diet for many millions of years. In addition, the longest lived populations on the planet eat exclusively plants. Of course we all have open minds here so if you have any unbiased peer reviewed published studies to support your contentions, we’d be interested in seeing the citations from Pubmed.

            1. PubMed isn’t really the best place for archaeology. You can talk about prey bones all you like gut the HUMAN bones are really hard to deny.

              https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1571064/

              As I stated before so we DO agree …agrarian cultures ate mostly plants as many agrarian cultures still do today. There is no disagreement there. Also the development of agriculture and civilization led to huge changes in human behavior so that is still part of human evolution. It seems absurd to think that evolution ended with agriculture.

              But as Dr Greger himself states, the standard view has been that early man ate meat as some significant part of the diet. The evidence is overwhelming. It is the contrarian view that must overcome the standard view.

              It is often stated that man has no physical edge like bigger muscles, claws and teeth like other animals so we developed intelligence instead. But we have in fact THREE huge physical advantages FOR HUNTING. Our skin allows us to outpace ALL animals on a savannah as it is the most efficient heat transfer adaptation found in land animals. It works with number two which is our legs. This allows a gait we call jogging that is the most efficient long distance locomotion of any land animal in Africa. The third is our hands that allow us to throw “hand axes”. Hand “axes” are found in abundance. They suck at chopping trees so the term ax is a misnomer. They excel at being thrown and at butchering meat. The changes in the hands of erectus at the same time as the prevalence of the hand ax leads to obvious conclusions. So we have bodies UNIQUELY capable of outrunning prey without overheating then killing the prey without direct contact (injury) once that prey has given up because it is overheated and simply can’t go on. This is one strategy of the bushmen today which leads to…

              EVERY surviving aboriginal culture is either hunting or if you include northern European aboriginals, herding cultures. NONE are strictly plant eaters.

              The only gross physical advantages we have on the order of wings, hooves, teeth and claws are three advantes that OBVIOUSLY work together specifically for hunting advantage.

              As stated by the contrarians, theirs is the contrarian view.

              Of course NONE of this matters as far as the healthiest diet. The daily dozen is a fantastic way to develop better habits.

    1. Sydney – I’d like to share some information for readers of this site on the term “grass fed”. I lived many years on a cattle ranch. All cattle are grass fed. The term you want to look for is what’s called “finishing”. You want to look for “grass finished”. All cattle graze on grass their first year or two until they reach 4-500 lbs. When they reach this weight the rancher then ships them off to the feedlots for fattening also called “finishing”. Here they are contained and fed a high grain (as well as other items and antibiotics) diet. This contributes to fast weight gain as well as marbling of the meat with fat which, in our society, is considered very desirable as it tenderizes the meat. This is what contributes to cow meat being high fat in its tissues. This “finishing” is performed on CAFO feedlots. They remain here until they reach slaughter weight when they are shipped off to their deaths.
      I am seeing the term “grass fed” all over the place now and most people do not realize what this actually means. The first year of their lives all cattle in the country are grass fed. They are corn (and other things) fed the last 6-8months. Manufacturers are not lying when they advertise “grass fed” cattle and then mark the price up for you. “Grass finished” is a completely different thing. This means the last months of life the cow eats nothing but grass.
      But also, as an example, hunters that kill and consume deer and elk will tell you that these wild animals, that graze on grass all their lives, yield very tough meat (I’ve eaten it and it’s true!). It’s like chewing shoe leather. To combat this toughness, hunters will hang the meat in a cool place, often in their shed or garage, in the Fall, during hunting season, for the meat to cure – maybe a number of weeks. During this cure period natural enzymes in the meat will break down the tissues and tenderize the meat naturally. It is then cut into portions and frozen. This is how hunters deal with the tough meat issue.
      In the cattle business, there isn’t sufficient time to hang dead cows in cool temperatures to allow for the natural meat tenderizing process to occur. This is why they are fed corn and fattened up before slaughter (they also make more money on a heavier cow). This is also what contributes to the undesirable “chemicals” in cow meat that many people feel is unhealthy.
      But I wanted to explain why seeing the term “grass fed” on meat packages is not a lie, but also doesn’t mean anything special. You can read more about this topic on this Wikepedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feedlot

      1. The “finishing” (last 6 months or so) of corn fed cows is called “corn finished” and the meat is then called being marbled (with fat).

      2. Ruth,

        Thanks for your clarification.

        It reminds me of the claim on plant foods that they are “cholesterol free!” It’s true — but plants don’t contain cholesterol. It’s only found in animal products. So it’s redundant to say that plant foods are cholesterol-free.

        Also, I recall deer hanging in unheated garages in Wisconsin for a few days during hunting season — but these animals were gutted first. Apparently, the older the deer, the longer they are left hanging before butchering.

        And the deer meat in southern Wisconsin was much more similar to cattle meat than the deer in northern Wisconsin, because the deer in the southern part of the state grazed so often in farmers’ fields, especially after the harvest, that they were partially grain fed. Now I know from your comments that they were “grain finished.” Maybe that’s why they were hung for shorter periods of time? (I recall sometimes for only 2-3 or 4 days.)

        Also, the grains raised for cattle feed can be much more heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides (biocides) than can grain grown for human consumption. So cattle consuming these grains can concentrate these biocides in their tissues, especially the fat-soluble ones. I guess these biocides are concentrated in the fat. Sort of like adding insult to injury.

        1. It’s now known that (some) plants do contain small amounts of cholesterol. But this old belief that plants do not contain any cholesterol is still repeated endlessly almost everywhere.

          ‘There is a widespread belief among the public and even among chemists that plants do not contain cholesterol. This error is the result (in part) of the fact that plants generally contain only small quantities of cholesterol and that analyti-cal methods for the detection of cholesterol in this range were not well developed until recently (1). Another reason has to do with the legalities of food labeling that allow small quantities of cholesterol in foods to be called zero (2). The fact isthat cholesterol is widespread in the plant kingdom although other related sterols, such as β-sitosterol (henceforth referred to as sitosterol), generally occur in larger quantities. No cur-rent biochemistry text that we have examined provides an accurate account of cholesterol in plants.”
          https://www.researchgate.net/publication/231266918_Cholesterol_and_Plants

          1. Mr Fumblefingers,

            You are correct; plants do contain very small amounts of cholesterol in their sterols. Very small amounts.

            However, on average, dietary cholesterol does not appear to affect blood plasma cholesterol levels, because these levels are homeostatically controlled. Meaning, the more cholesterol that is eaten, the less that is made, and the less cholesterol that is eaten, the more that is made, keeping blood plasma levels more or less constant.

            But saturated fatty acids do affect cholesterol levels, by increasing them. Eg: “SFAs [saturated fatty acids] increase plasma LDL-C by increasing the formation of LDL in the plasma compartment and by decreasing LDL turnover. Although unsaturated fatty acids increase cholesterol synthesis, they also increase hepatic LDL receptor number and LDL turnover in vivo. Fatty acids are also ligands of important regulatory elements, which can play a role in determining plasma cholesterol” https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/135/9/2075/4664084

            And significant levels of dietary cholesterol are found in animal products, but they also contain higher levels of saturated fatty acids — and the saturated fatty acids do contribute to high cholesterol levels. And some plant oils also contain high levels of saturated fatty acids, such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and even palm oil, though these oils contain very low levels of cholesterol. But it is the saturated fatty acids which are of concern, not the cholesterol level, as these are what appear to increase the levels of blood plasma cholesterol levels.

            So stating that a plant food has “low cholesterol” does not mean that that is the reason it’s healthy. Coconut oil, and palm kernel and palm kernel oil have “zero” levels (ie, very low levels) of cholesterol, but their high saturated fatty acid content makes them likely to contribute to high blood cholesterol levels.

        2. Dr. J – yes your observations are correct.
          Let me also share that there are no regulations (per my last knowledge) regarding what can be fed to cattle to “help” them to gain weight. Some ranchers feed their cattle as much “whatever” as they can before shipping them off to CAFO feeding operations so that they can get as good a price as they can by weight at sale to CAFO. I remember seeing a complaint that one rancher fed unused bags of concrete in the mix to their cattle knowing that once they drank water the concrete would absorb the water and “help” the cow to weigh in at a much greater weight. A complaint against this rancher was offered but the USDA stated, in response, that because concrete is not specifically mentioned as a substance that cannot be fed to cattle they had no legal complaint to act on. The rancher could, therefore, feed concrete powder to his cattle to increase the weight at sell-point. This is disgusting, I know.
          This is why I support PETA. No animal should be treated this way. Ever.

      3. This lady is right.
        If you ate real meat it would be at least $30.00 a pound and taste tough and awful.
        You would only need or want to eat maybe 3 to 6 ounces per week. Ask a chimp or orangutan.
        There are important nutrients of value in real meat unless you want to take supplements made in a lab not regulated by the fda which I would never take.
        I have never heard of anyone being allergic to apples, oatmeal or meat, but I have known people allergic to tree pollen, oleander
        ragweed, water hemlock, high oxalic vegetables, rhubarb etc.

        1. Yerky,

          Look up Oral Allergy Syndrome; it’s an allergy to some fruits and/or vegetables which contain the same allergenic proteins as do pollens. Those with those condition can in fact be allergic to certain types of produce such as apples, etc, when eaten raw, but not when they are cooked. (Eg https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_allergy_syndrome)

          Then meat: there is a virus that results in an allergy to meat. Alpha gal, for short, It’s transmitted by a tick bite, I think. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha-gal_allergy)

          1. 10 years ago I got an allergy test. Out of the 100 or so things tested at that time I do not recall any meat or poultry being on the test so I figure it was not thought of as significant. There was Eggs, Milk, Fish, Dog and Cat dander, mouse and dust mite droppings tested. The other 90 or so things on the test were all wonderful wholesome plant based goodies.

        2. I am allergic to beef, pork, lamb, and all poultry. The likely reason is the use of antibiotics in their diet, since I am very allergic to penicillin and less allergic to other antibiotics. Any more exotic meats I have not been tested for, and these tests were done in the early 1970s. I have been vegetarian or vegan since 1989, so have no knowledge of the current status of these allergies, although a few years ago I was accidentally exposed to chicken broth in an alleged vegetarian soup and had a serious allergic reaction (which is how the mistake was discovered, by the way). So, though you don’t me, I can attest to the fact that some people are allergic to meat.

          I might also add that there is a tick (I forget which one) that is common in the area around DC, Maryland, etc, that creates a meat allergy in people it bites, a fact I learned from a governmental pamphlet warning Vermonters about the sequelae of various tick bites.

    2. As a volunteer for NutritionFacts.org, I’ll try to answer your question. While the meat industry that produces only grass fed beef could be asked to produce the study you requested, I was not able to find such a study. I was able to find several videos Dr Greger has produced showing how even a small amount of an unhealthful food such as one chicken nugget can demonstrate unhealthy outcomes. Considering the cost and less than likely possibility results would demonstrate much difference Other studies that have looked at a benefit from eating supposedly “healthy” meat and how eating it shows little improvement over eating meat overall are not encouraging. You may wish to review this video for some perspective on your question: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-organic-meat-less-carcinogenic/) I would not expect such a study.

  4. This is interesting article about the large differences among Prevotella copri strains….which may explain why the presence of P. copri in some individuals seems to be deleterious, where in others it is beneficial. It comes down to “analysis of the 16S rRNA gene alone is insufficient to distinguish these clades (Figures S1C–S1E), which is not uncommon for species within the same genus (Janda and Abbott, 2007).” So perhaps some research not taking the time and expense to distinguish between these clades and subsets within. The microbiome is very complex and diverse and we are only just beginning to understand it . What a fascinating time we live in.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31607556
    Link to free online article

    1. Mims,

      I agree that it is fascinating. It will probably take the rest of our lives to sort some of this out, but some of these topics are so new that it will be interesting to see where the information leads.

      Though I do wonder about the political pressures will be during this process.

      I say it because of the topic of Genetic Geneology, where they suddenly had “The Year of the Cold Case” and were able to solve decades-old cases. That stopped abruptly in May and one police department which had been having excellent results said that not a single case has been solved since the policy changed. It went from everything got answers to nothing gets answers and it is too expensive to even try if there isn’t any chance to succeed.

      A high portion of murders go unsolved every year and I am disappointed for the family members who have gone through losses.

      Yes, they are afraid that the data will be misused and that is a real danger. I would say that it is likely that it will be misused anyway, but also that our police officers will not be the ones able to use it.

    2. “What’s Your Gut Microbiome Enterotype?”
      – – – – –

      Tellya the truth, I don’t think I really care to find out. *_^

      1. YR,

        Neither do I, but that is mostly that I don’t want to pay for a test that will give me results based on my diet.

        Cheaper to just look at my diet in the first place.

        I am not thinking that the 3 pieces of pizza I have had this past year undoes the months and months of salad.

        1. If I remember properly, some of the sites aren’t all that accurate.

          Someone from the Press sent samples to all of them and got varied results.

          Plus, they were being sent data comparing them to everybody else and calling some answers “normal” based on the larger group and based on having enough variety in bacteria. The concept that people trying to be WFPB vegan to 5% animal products and that would clearly not be normal for the greater society, I don’t want them evaluating me at all.

  5. The data I have seen seems to show the most frequent gut microbe in the American gut is Firmicutes. Bacteroides being generally second most prevalent. Researchers now believe that the ratio of these bacteria within the human gut moderate whether we are obese or lean. They have found a higher ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes in obese humans, while in leaner humans, a higher ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes can be found.

    Looking at my American Gut sample results perhaps I don’t understand the difference between frequency and abundance in the results.

    1. Is ‘frequency’ the number of times a particular type occurs while ‘abundance ‘ refers to the variety of individual strains of that type?

      Eg group A consists of 3 numbers and 3 letters- 1,2,3,A,B,C – while group B also consists of 3 numbers and 3 letterers – 5,,5,5, A B C.

      Numbers occur with equal frequency in both groups but there is a greater abundance of numbers in the first group.

    2. Hi, Bill Weronko! You might be interested in this video, if you have not already seen it: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/tipping-the-balance-of-firmicutes-to-bacteroidetes/ As I understand it, abundance refers to the number of a certain organism relative to the other organisms in a sample. For example, the abundance of females in a group of people would refer to the proportion of that group that are female. Frequency refers to the distribution of an organism in a sample. In the example above, frequency would tell us whether the females in a group of people are scattered throughout the group, or all clustered in one area. I hope that helps!

  6. I read that heating almond milk in the microwave kills the vitamin b12. I was wondering if heating it on the stove also kills the vitamin b12?

      1. FF, That’s an interesting chart … thanks for posting it. It’s interesting that vit C doesn’t degrade until around 200 deg C. I always thought it was lower than that.

        I usually don’t cook anything above water boiling point, 100 deg C (212 deg F.)

    1. As a volunteer nurse with NutritionFacts health support, I researched your question and while there were several studies focusing on the health benefits of almond milk (and not citing any research focusing on damage to nutrients including B12 due to heat) I could not find any specific information on almond milk and B12. The one study that is often cited regarding heat degradation of B12 in general (not just in milk) is this one:
      http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid
      ANALYSIS OF THERMAL AND AQUEOUS SUSPENSION STABILITIES OF CHITOSAN BASED NANOENCAPSULATED VITAMINS which cites ath B12 degrades about 10% around 70 degrees
      It is observed from DTG thermograms (Figure 6) that both pure vitamins B12 and B9 showed mass loss with events starting near 40 and 92 °C respectively,
      In a study looking at this exact topic, they found that B12 degrades about 10% at around 158 Faranheit. Since most cooking doesn’t get above that and usually stays way under, you can rest assured heating your healthy almond milk will not cause any serious loss of Vit b 12 benefit. I hope that helps.

  7. I am so happy today.

    My 90-year-old relatives want to try WFPB. Everybody else runs away and they kept asking questions and we went from one house to another house and they were still asking questions and they said, “Get us some of those recipes.”

    I showed them 2 NutritionFacts.org videos and they listened so intently and I am going to be cooking meals for them and bringing them great big salads with no-oil dressing. They are going to be using my gadgets, too. I love them so much. I didn’t have to twist any arms at all.

  8. I thought I just posted a comment about my 90-year-old relatives wanting to try WFPB. They asked me so many questions today and by the end, they just asked for some recipes.

    Yesterday at a baby shower, the same thing happened with another elderly woman who is struggling with pain, and her daughter, who also has pain.

    It was an excellent weekend.

    I am going to be giving meals to try.

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