Gut Feelings: Probiotics & Mental Health

Gut Feelings: Probiotics & Mental Health
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We’ve known our mental state can affect our gut flora, but might our good bacteria be affecting our mental state?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Before Thorazine was invented in 1950, mental illness was often treated surgically.  In fact, in 1949, the inventor of the lobotomy was awarded the Nobel Prize. But, before tens of thousands were lobotomized, colectomy was all the rage. There was this theory that bad bacteria in the gut—”intestinal putrefaction”—was the cause of mental illness. So, the cure was to just surgically remove the colon. Yes, the surgery killed about one in three. But, when they didn’t die, surgeons bragged that (for example) when he resected the colons of schoolchildren as a preventive measure, there was a “cessation of abnormal sex practices, such as masturbation”—which was viewed at the time as a precursor for mental illness later in life.

There were others, though, that took less drastic approaches, suggesting one could instead treat this intestinal putrefaction by changing the intestinal flora. So, over a century ago, there were reports of successfully treating psychiatric illnesses, like depression, with a dietary regimen that included probiotics. Doctors perceived a connection between depression and “feces deficient in quantity and moisture and very offensive in odor.” So, they gave patients probiotics. And, not only did people feel better psychologically, but their “feces increase in quantity, become softer, and of regular consistency, and the offensive smell diminishes.” Concurrent with the probiotics, however, all patients were started on a vegetarian diet, so it may not have been the probiotics at all.

This field of inquiry remained dormant for about a hundred years, but a new discipline has recently emerged known as “enteric [meaning intestinal] neuroscience.” Our enteric nervous system—the collection of nerves in our gut—has been referred to as our “second brain,” given its “size, complexity, and similarity.” We’ve got so many nerves in our gut that, as many as in our spinal cord. And, it kinda makes sense. The size and complexity of our gut brain is not surprising when considering the challenges posed by the interface with “our largest body surface.” We have a hundred times more contact with the outside world through our gut than through our skin. We also have to deal our 100 trillion little friends down there. Takes a lot of processing power.

Now, anyone who’s ever gotten butterflies in their stomach knows that our mental state can affect our gut. In fact, everyday stressors can affect the integrity of our gut flora. This innovative study looked at feces scraped from used toilet paper in undergrads during exam week. This is how many bacteria they had in their feces before the exam. But, look what happens on exam day—and, in fact, lasted through the whole week. So, our mental state can affect our gut. But, can our gut affect our mental state? We didn’t know, until recently.

For example, many suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome “complain of gut dysfunction.” So, researchers tried giving people probiotics to see if their mental and emotional state could be improved, and indeed, it appeared to help.

What about healthy people, though? This is the study that really rocked the scientific establishment. “An assessment of the psychotropic…properties” of probiotics. One month of probiotics was found to significantly decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger, and hostility. How is that possible? Well, a variety of mechanisms has been proposed for how intestinal bacteria may be communicating with our brain.

Until that study was published, though, the idea that probiotic bacteria administered to the intestine could influence our brain seemed almost surreal. Like science fiction. Science, yes; but fiction, no. “Likely, organisms already inside us carry out some degree of influence on our mental wellbeing.”

So, might people suffering from certain forms of mental health problems benefit from a fecal transplant from someone with a more kind of happy-go-lucky bacteria? We don’t know, but this ability of probiotics to affect brain processes “is perhaps one of the most exciting recent developments in probiotic research.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Before Thorazine was invented in 1950, mental illness was often treated surgically.  In fact, in 1949, the inventor of the lobotomy was awarded the Nobel Prize. But, before tens of thousands were lobotomized, colectomy was all the rage. There was this theory that bad bacteria in the gut—”intestinal putrefaction”—was the cause of mental illness. So, the cure was to just surgically remove the colon. Yes, the surgery killed about one in three. But, when they didn’t die, surgeons bragged that (for example) when he resected the colons of schoolchildren as a preventive measure, there was a “cessation of abnormal sex practices, such as masturbation”—which was viewed at the time as a precursor for mental illness later in life.

There were others, though, that took less drastic approaches, suggesting one could instead treat this intestinal putrefaction by changing the intestinal flora. So, over a century ago, there were reports of successfully treating psychiatric illnesses, like depression, with a dietary regimen that included probiotics. Doctors perceived a connection between depression and “feces deficient in quantity and moisture and very offensive in odor.” So, they gave patients probiotics. And, not only did people feel better psychologically, but their “feces increase in quantity, become softer, and of regular consistency, and the offensive smell diminishes.” Concurrent with the probiotics, however, all patients were started on a vegetarian diet, so it may not have been the probiotics at all.

This field of inquiry remained dormant for about a hundred years, but a new discipline has recently emerged known as “enteric [meaning intestinal] neuroscience.” Our enteric nervous system—the collection of nerves in our gut—has been referred to as our “second brain,” given its “size, complexity, and similarity.” We’ve got so many nerves in our gut that, as many as in our spinal cord. And, it kinda makes sense. The size and complexity of our gut brain is not surprising when considering the challenges posed by the interface with “our largest body surface.” We have a hundred times more contact with the outside world through our gut than through our skin. We also have to deal our 100 trillion little friends down there. Takes a lot of processing power.

Now, anyone who’s ever gotten butterflies in their stomach knows that our mental state can affect our gut. In fact, everyday stressors can affect the integrity of our gut flora. This innovative study looked at feces scraped from used toilet paper in undergrads during exam week. This is how many bacteria they had in their feces before the exam. But, look what happens on exam day—and, in fact, lasted through the whole week. So, our mental state can affect our gut. But, can our gut affect our mental state? We didn’t know, until recently.

For example, many suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome “complain of gut dysfunction.” So, researchers tried giving people probiotics to see if their mental and emotional state could be improved, and indeed, it appeared to help.

What about healthy people, though? This is the study that really rocked the scientific establishment. “An assessment of the psychotropic…properties” of probiotics. One month of probiotics was found to significantly decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger, and hostility. How is that possible? Well, a variety of mechanisms has been proposed for how intestinal bacteria may be communicating with our brain.

Until that study was published, though, the idea that probiotic bacteria administered to the intestine could influence our brain seemed almost surreal. Like science fiction. Science, yes; but fiction, no. “Likely, organisms already inside us carry out some degree of influence on our mental wellbeing.”

So, might people suffering from certain forms of mental health problems benefit from a fecal transplant from someone with a more kind of happy-go-lucky bacteria? We don’t know, but this ability of probiotics to affect brain processes “is perhaps one of the most exciting recent developments in probiotic research.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to KayVee.INCPère Ubu & NaustvikPhotography.com via flickr; and Bonkers Institute

Doctor's Note

This closes out my four-part video series on the latest in probiotic science. I began with the two most established indications for their use in Preventing & Treating Diarrhea with Probiotics, then moved onto a more speculative use in Preventing the Common Cold with Probiotics? I then offered practical advice on how to best take probiotic supplements in Should Probiotics Be Taken Before, During, or After Meals?.

The colon removal story reminds me of the mastectomies they used to do for breast pain (see Plant-Based Diets For Breast Pain).

Why might a vegetarian diet alone have improved mood? Check out Plant-Based Diet & Mood, and the follow-up, Improving Mood through Diet—as well as my serotonin series that starts with Human Neurotransmitters in Plants.

More on treating chronic fatigue syndrome in:

What else might our good bacteria be doing for us? They may be helping with weight control (see Fawning over Flora and Gut Flora & Obesity), and serving up anti-cancer compounds! See Flax & Fecal Flora, and Sometimes the Enzyme Myth is True.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Probiotics & DiarrheaHow Should I Take Probiotics?How Probiotics Affect Mental Health; and Top 10 Most Popular Videos of 2013.

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

62 responses to “Gut Feelings: Probiotics & Mental Health

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  1. lactobacillus has anything to do with cow’s milk? and if it has, where the logic of this to say that we should not have any contact with dairy products? why the name lactobacillus?




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      1. You can buy probiotics in pill form. There are also non-dairy yogurts with probiotics in them – soy, almond milk and coconut milk – and they’re readily available these days in grocery stores.




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    1. Many viewers here are vegan, and try to avoid products using animal products, even in the processing. Most lactobacilus supplements are initially grown on a dairy medium, but there are a few brands with vegan supplements (SunBiotics, Rainbow Light).

      The genus Lactobacillus (of which the species L. acidophilus is a member) are called such because they metabolize sugars to lactic acid. Its not a reference to the lactose sugar in dairy milk.

      This study found no significant difference in fecal Lactobacillus count between lacto-vegetarians and vegans, so it isn’t necessary to consume dairy products to introduce them to the gut: http://www.hablemosclaro.org/pdf/noticias/A_vegan_diet_alters_the_human_colonic_faecal_microbiota.pdf




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    2. Nope, it is just a type of bacteria that starts the fermentation process, and is present on all plants. Lactic acid is an organic compound, an alpha hyddoxy acid (AHA).




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  2. When you refer to a number of relevant lecture videos I wish you would just string them together like ABC does with its news. I want to hear all of them but I don’t want to sit at the keyboard to pull them up individually. I can multitask while I listen–after all, they are generally formatted as lectures. When there is show and tell I can always glance at the screen but I have to cook meals for my family which I am able to do while listening and learning.




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    1. The DVDs are great for showing less technologically inclined family members. I’m only up to 6, but I really should pick up the rest soon.

      As a workaround, there’s a website that will play YouTube uploads in chronological order, eg: http://play-users-youtube-videos.appspot.com/?VideosFromUser=NutritionFactsOrg&reverse=true From that page, you may need to go full screen (“[ ]” in the bottom right), and then click ahead a few times (“>” in the bottom right) to get to more recent series.




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  3. I love this series. There’s so much confusion about probiotics out there. I like how we are starting to figure out more about them and this series helps us to understand what we do and do not yet know. Very nice.




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  4. Hi Dr,Greger!, Thank-you for the on-going ‘Meducation’. Have YOU seen and are aware of this site? ccic.net I enjoy Raw Juicing too!




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  5. As a psychologist and psychoanalyst who has long lamented the mental health professions’ disregard of nutritional factors in psychological well-being, I’m heartened by this body of research inquiry. It’s about time we transcend the mind/body duality in our thinking and interventions. There are obviously many ways to work through one’s s–t, so to speak. Thanks Dr. Greger for your work!




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  6. A few years ago my husband took a refrigerated probiotic capsule prescribed for my daughter and had a hallucinogenic trip. I guessed it happened because it was past the expiration date. Last year he was on antibiotics and I gave him a Dr O. He said he felt strange and had global temporary amnesia. It went away a few hours later & $3,000 hospital bill. Coincidence?




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  7. I wonder if the fecal transplanant from centenarians or slim people could be reduced to an advanced probiotics pill, with all the thousands strands of bacteria in the right proportion. Complex, yes, but not undoable.




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  8. I’ve been vegan for 6 years. For 40 years before that I had frequent bouts of depression. Since being vegan I have only had a few ‘down’ days–no depression! Maybe gut flora is part of the connection between my mental health and my diet.




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  9. Dr. Greger,

    Can you tell me which brand of probiotics are the best? My mom was told to take them and has no idea what to get. Thanks again.




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  10. My Grand
    daughter is feeding my Great Grandson egg yolk. Making me sick just to think about. Dr. Greger can you please send me info about eggs?? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese. thank you Millan Chessman. I will pay for it.




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    1. Here is the evidence

      Eggs are considered good sources of lutein and omega 3 as well as an excellent source of protein. For these reasons, they are considered health foods. Looking at these claims in detail, chickens have lutein due to the fact that they have a varietized feed, these nutrients are not inherent of eggs. Based on the nutrient data found on the USDA database, 10 grams of spinach has approximately 12 times more lutein then 10 grams of an egg.

      We cannot really consider eggs an appropriate source of this nutrient.

      https://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12354500/Data/SR25/nutrlist/sr25a338.pdf

      Regarding Omega 3, current levels of omega 3 in eggs are highly inadequate and one must consume around 30 eggs to reach an acceptable level of omega 3 for the day. A male needs around 1.6 grams of omega 3 per day, a female needs around 1.1 grams a day. A large egg contains about .037 grams of omega 3. Omega 3 in the ALA form processes to EPA which is also processed to DHA. These fats are anti-inflammatory. Omega 6 processes down to arachadonic acid which is highly inflammatory. According to the National Cancer Institute, eggs are the number 2 top contributor of arachidonic acid in the American Diet.
      http://riskfactor.cancer.gov/diet/foodsources/fatty_acids/table4.html

      Based on this as well as the low omega 3 content of eggs, the benefits received from omega 3 are masked by the high quantity of preformed Arachidonic Acid. High intake of arachadonic acid is linked to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, as well as a clear link with cancer development.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=20950616%5Buid%5D

      http://img2.tapuz.co.il/forums/1_156375095.pdf

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21139128

      Eggs have been associated with heart failure as noted here. “After 13.3 years of follow-up in this cohort of approximately 14,000 white and African-American men and women, greater intake of eggs and of high-fat dairy foods were both associated with greater risk of incident HF, whereas greater intake of whole-grain foods was associated with lower risk of incident HF. These associations were independent of demographic characteristics, lifestyle factors, prevalent CVD, diabetes, hypertension, and other food groups.”

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2650810/

      As well as an association type 2 diabetes with egg consumption of 1 egg a day. “Overall, the observed increased risk of type 2 diabetes with daily consumption of eggs in the current study raises the possibility of undesirable health effects with high rates of egg consumption and may help explain previously reported increased risk of CHD that was restricted to individuals with type 2 diabetes in the Health Professional Follow-up Study”

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2628696/?tool=pubmed

      In the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, David Spence (director of the stroke prevention/atherosclerosis research center and one of the worlds leading stroke experts), David Jenkins (the inventor of the glycemic index) and Jean Davignon (director of atherosclerosis research group) posted a review on eggs claiming that the egg industry has been downplaying the health risks of eggs through misleading advertisements. As soon as you eat one egg, you expose your body to several hours worth of oxidative stress, inflammation of ones arteries, endothelieum impairment (what keeps you blood running smoothly) and increases the susceptibility of LDL cholesterol to oxidize (beginning stages of heart disease). The authors go into great detail regarding dietary cholesterol and it is a very fascinating read indeed. The author’s final words “In our opinion, stopping egg consumption after a myocardial infarction or stroke would be like quitting smoking after lung cancer is diagnosed: a necessary act, but late.”

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989358/

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9001684

      The egg industry has claimed that cholesterol from eggs is not important and does not raise cholesterol levels. The fundamental flaw in the study the egg industry has used to make this claim is that they measured fasting lipid levels at night and not levels through out the day after egg consumption. “Diet is not all about fasting lipids; it is mainly about the three-quarters of the day that we are in the nonfasting state. Fasting lipids can be thought of as a baseline; they show what the endothelium was exposed to for the last few hours of the night.”

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989358/?tool=pubmed

      A single egg yolk contains approximately 215 to 275 mg of cholesterol. A safe upper limit can be capped at 200 mg if one is looking to prevent heart disease as recommended by the CDC as one of their nutritional recommendations as seen on page 92. One egg far exceeds this daily upper limit.

      http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hp2000/hp2k01.pdf

      The balance of science is clearly against even moderate egg consumption as this food is a packaged deal. We do not get the nutrients found in eggs without getting the cholesterol and saturated fat. This similarity can be seen with chicken in terms of cholesterol and arachidonic acid

      http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/poultry-products/703/2

      as well as even the leanest beef containing an undesirable quantity of saturated fat as well as cholesterol

      http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/3820/2

      “Tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) are important, in part because they are used for estimating the percentage of the population at potential risk of adverse effects from excessive nutrient intake. The IOM did not set ULs for trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol because any intake level above 0% of energy increased LDL cholesterol concentration and these three food components are unavoidable in ordinary diets.”

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21521229

      In terms of saturated fat, the link below displays the top food sources of cholesterol raising fat.

      http://riskfactor.cancer.gov/diet/foodsources/sat_fat/crf.html




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      1. Great job, thanks so much for the info! :-) But this I assume is mainly caused by egg yolk and not so much whites? Many studies don’t make a difference between these two parts of the egg and it is misleading to many. Don’t get me wrong, you are amazing and I am thrilled to see these studies, but I am just saying….:-)




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  11. I was just thinking so that would also mean people eating cows might be affected by there germs. Also it means people who have a transplant of a heart or something along these lines… maybe this is what is also affecting their mental state. That is very interesting! :-)




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  12. So I have a simple question: which biotics are the good ones? are there soy or other plant yogurts that contain them?.
    I just made a batch of soy yogurt; in this heat it took all of five mins plus a couple of hours wait. I assume that I could inoculate other plant milks that I prefer taste wise (almond, rice, coconut) similarly and have a good supply of probiotics to take with every meal. Am I correct?
    Someone mentioned kefir which I love; how do you make plant based kefir?




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    1. 85% of all soy in this country is GMO — it’s even contaminated the “organic” soy supply. It is, sadly, best avoided altogether as GMO damage far ourweighs the positives of the phytoestrogens of soy. (It is tragic how we are not just allowing, but enabling, the permanent destruction of our food supply.)




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  13. Dr. Greger, I appreciate your work so much! I’m wondering if you have any material regarding correlations between quality of microflora (symbiotic vs. pathogenic) and quality of diet (whole plant foods vs. animal). I’m particularly interested in what you might have to say about the consequences of animals without carnivore-strength gastric acid and long intestines eating a high protein calorie ratio, and what quality of microflora would grow in the intestines in response to high levels of incompletely metabolized protein to eat. And then, what happens to this animal’s microflora when it reduces protein consumption to match its HCL/pepsin production capacity?




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    1. Hi Patrick. Have you seen his videos on gut health? Also, his video about how gut flora and obesity. See if any of the studies in those videos help? Some may discuss protein and gut health, too. If you can’t find any I’ll look into more. Thanks for your comment.




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  14. I have chronic fatigue syndrome and find that probiotics make feel a little bit better physically but make me very depressed. It is exactly the same effect that antibiotics have on me. Could you please explain why this might be? Thanks




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  15. I’m all in favor of probiotics from food. There are a lot probiotic type foods out there, e.g., kombucha (but NF has videos against this due to 3-4 anecdotal cases of lactic acidosis in immune compromised patients), miso/amazake (no videos), natto (no videos), lacto-fermented veggies (kimchi, cabbage, cucumbers etc., NF has videos against this because some people get stomache cancer from too much, e.g. the China Study), kvass and wild yeast fermented beer (sour beer etc. Gregor has videos against the least little bit of alcohol being carcinogenic). Dairy (yogurt e.g.) is verboten. Pills are not properly labeled or made and go against the admonishment to avoid supplements in favor of whole foods. It’s not fair to put out a set of videos touting the benefits of probiotics when there are all the other NF videos emphasizing the risks. I’d like to see some information balancing the risks and benefits of probiotic/fermented foods on a case by case basis cf. the NF video on heart health benefit vs. cancer/hepatotoxin risk for alcohol.




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    1. DanielFaster: I understand your point, but to be fair, I do think Dr. Greger has provided a solution. He has argued in favor of feeding your gut properly with pre-biotics and raw fruits and veggies in order to foster healthy good bacteria in your tummy. re:

      From an article/blog post: “Unless one has suffered a major disruption of gut flora by antibiotics or an intestinal infection—in other words unless one is symptomatic with diarrhea or bloating—I would suggest focusing on feeding
      the good bacteria we already have, by eating so-called prebiotics, such as fiber. … Altogether, this suggests that the
      advantages of prebiotics—found in plant foods—outweigh those of probiotics. And by eating raw fruits and vegetables we may be getting both! Fruits and vegetables are covered with millions of lactic acid bacteria, some of which are the same type used as probiotics. So when studies show eating more fruits and
      vegetables boosts immunity, prebiotics and probiotics may be playing a role.”

      That may not fully address your concern, but I thought it was worth pointing out.

      Also, here is a bit of practical advice:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/should-probiotics-be-taken-before-during-or-after-meals/

      Just some thoughts for you.




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      1. Thanks, Thea, great point and it did get me to do some thinking about why I’m not giving up any fermented foods just yet.

        That being said there does seem to be a bit of a double standard on these items, e.g., the kombucha warning is based on a handful of poorly documented anecdotal cases in immune-compromised individuals yet the probiotic and antioxidant benefits are ridiculed by referencing some non-scientific publications http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-kombucha-tea-goodfor-you/, whereas conjugated linolenic acid (CLA – the main transfat found in animal flesh) has some studies showing as an extract/isolate it may be marginally beneficial to heart health despite being a meat based transfat verboten per the standards of NF (and me as well).

        It’s just that I think if you look at the studies and the NF videos, fermented foods unfairly (IMO) get a bad rap in some of the videos without any mention of the usually huge benefits of naturally occurring probiotics, prebiotics, antioxidants and vitamins etc. It should also be pointed out that the bacteria have different strains in different geographical locations and also depend a lot on the enterotype, e.g., H pylori European strain vs. South American enterotype leads to high incidences of cancer in South America in modern times (recent Science article). Actually studies on probiotics and probiotic rich foods would seem to be woefully lacking if there is no discussion of the patient’s enterotype or microbiome.

        The old adage that anything times zero is still zero comes to mind. The kimchi vid http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-kimchi-good-for-you/ is based on a case controlled study of prostate cancer in China where the incidence is 1.7/100k. If pickled veggies raised the risk factor by 10 (and this is not clear since moderate consumption decreased the relative risk ratio and the cases consumed less than half the fresh veggies/fruits of the controls) then the incidence would be 17/100k. I’d take my chances with that based on the seemingly universal risk of prostate cancer in the US.




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        1. DanielFaster: Fair enough. While I think Dr. Greger’s videos on this topic are helpful in pointing out potential issues (and it is clear from the video that he is talking as you say about small single studies), your post also provides great information for discussion/evaluation. It helps to move the discussion forward. Thanks.




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  16. Any comments on kefir and its potential health benefits? I wasn’t able to find any information on this topic on the site… please advise, thanks!




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    1. Robert: While you may not find much on this site in regards to kefir in general, you will find *plenty* on this site in regards to dairy. Kefir is just concentrated dairy with some probiotics thrown in. As you have seen, probiotics are great. But there are safer ways to get it than with kefir.

      Here is more information about dairy:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy/




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  17. Bacteroidetes? You talk about these helping to lose weight – where can I find
    them and which probiotic contains these that help with weight loss?




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    1. Hi Jan. Here is the video you are referencing. I watched again I I think the take home message was that polyphenols (antioxidants found in plants, especially dark blue, purple and red foods) can modulate the ratio Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes. ​Here is a great Q&A written by Dr. Greger on​ probiotics. He recommends dietary changes for weight loss, not simply using a probiotic. In fact, Dr. Greger doesn’t recommend a probiotic for everyone and certainly not for weight loss. I am uncertain if a probiotic alone will alter the bacteria in a meaningful way beyond helping with diarrhea. As I dietitian, I always push whole foods first! See if these links help? And look for more info from Dr. Klaper (found in the Q&A I linked above).

      Thanks for your question,

      Joseph




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  18. and preferably a proboitic that is “free from” maltodextrin, gluten, wheat, diary, soy etc. and one that really does stop the bloat




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  19. Is there a good resource to understand what type of intestinal bacteria we should be promoting or introducing? For mental and physical health? Also, one that would be in line w/ a whole food plant based diet. For instance, I don’t want to promote my tummy brain’s yearning for cheeseburgers.




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  20. Dr Greger – I am becoming a rabid consumer of your book and videos. I recently completed the eCornell WFPBD nutrition studies course and am wanting to put it all into practice and spread the word.
    A question came up after a drum circle last night. A mentally challenged young man came in with his caregiver and joined the circle. He was quite disruptive and whilst I was accepting of that I did wonder, as he ate his highly processed chips and drank his soda, whether a cleaner diet would help someone like him. I did search your videos but they seem more aimed at depression or anxiety. Is there research to show that a WFPBD will calm a person with mental challenges?
    Thank you for your insight.
    Nicola




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    1. Hi Nicola,
      I am one of the site moderators. You are right, there are several studies that have shown that the by products of many things we ingest can create neuroexitotoxity usually through the glutamate and the glutamic acid decarboxylate pathways which have been linked to mental disorders such as autism and ADHD. There have been many anecdotes regarding dietary intervention in these disorders but some real controlled studies have shown that these pathways are implicated in how well these people do and that certain foods and by products can make a difference in these important pathways so an excellent diet can make a difference in some of these people. Here are some links to articles for your reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23065398 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15624347




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  21. Great work NutritionFacts.org!!! I believe the strands for which these is evidence of a positive impact on mental health are acidophilus l. plantarum, salivarius, bulgaricus, casei, bifidus, rhamnosus & b. longum. Is that correct? Do flax seeds contain these strands? Do chia seeds? Which foods contain these, and are they comprised in in those foods in quantities comparable to those that have been scientifically proven to have a positive effect? Merci!




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  22. Just wondering if anyone’s had the same experiences with me, and I’m sure someone has, after consuming cheese. (Especially melted for some reason?) i.e; pizza, pastas, grilled cheese, etc. I have an extremely gassy stomach. Not only that, occasionally diarrhea. I actually have and have had for quite some time an actual life-altering fear of getting diarrhea. I can’t stand it, although I’m sure no one can, I get the fear so bad maybe something I consume will give me diarrhea, even if it’s GOOD for me, that I just won’t eat some days. or I’ll eat things I know will constipate or possibly make my bowel movements more solid. Weird, I know. As of lately, however, I’ve been reading “How Not To Die” and it’s extremely motivating. I’m realizing I shouldn’t be afraid of foods high in fiber because they could in fact help? Just looking for some opinions and insight. Thanks!




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    1. Jamie Hahn: Here’s a perspective: It doesn’t matter what the name of your specific condition is, if consuming cheese gives you diarrhea, then eating cheese is bad for you. Actually, eating cheese is bad for everyone. Cheese is just concentrated dairy (which in turn is often referred to as “liquid meat” for it’s impact on your health, the environment and the animals). As you are reading in How Not To Die, dairy is linked to all sorts of health problems. Following is the NutritionFacts summary page for dairy (which in turn only has a fraction of the evidence against dairy): http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy/

      So, my first point is: Completely putting the issue of fiber aside, it’s a good idea for everyone to avoid dairy for it’s long term effect of increasing serious disease risk. And in your case, because there is an immediate short term negative effect, you should stop all dairy consumption completely. You don’t need it and you are better off without it.

      As for what you should eat / how much fiber? : I think if you follow Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen recommendations that are in Part 2 of the book How Not To Die, you will be getting the right amount of fiber without having to worry about it. Will eating the Daily Dozen fix all your digestive upset issues? I don’t know. I’m not a doctor or any sort of specialist. It seems to me that starting with the Daily Dozen is a good place to start. Maybe you could do a diet of whole plant foods for a month and see what happens? However, if you have a serious problem going on in your gut, you may need to see a doctor/specialist to help get it fixed. I’d say that it is worth getting this problem fixed as it sounds like it is seriously affecting your life.

      I wish you the best of luck. I would point out that there are some really fantastic plant-based ice creams on the market and recipe books for making your own nondairy ice cream. As for cheese: It’s hard to give up something that people are literally addicted to (Dr. Barnard just published a book on that topic: The Cheese Trap https://www.amazon.com/Cheese-Trap-Breaking-Surprising-Addiction/dp/1455594687/ref=sr_tnr_p_1_4209_1_twi_har_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489175029&sr=1-1&keywords=cheese+trap+barnard ) However, it can be done and without too much pain. It may take some time to find substitutes that satisfy you, but people are able to do it if they are willing to make the effort.




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  23. Side Note: I don’t think I have lactose intolerance, but my mom does have it, so I could very well be getting the onset of it? Not sure. I try to avoid dairy if at all possible, unless it’s cheese or occasionally ice cream.




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