Is Obesity Infectious?

Is Obesity Infectious?
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Given the role our gut bacteria can play in affecting our weight, having family and friends who are obese may not just be socially contagious, but actually contagious.

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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.

Although recent increases in the availability of junk food and decreases in the availability of physical activity have created an obesity-permissive environment, “several other factors may contribute.” We know, for example, the use of antibiotics is linked to obesity; so, our gut flora may play a role.

Recently, specific bacterial species were identified. There are these eight species of bacteria that seem protective against weight gain, and they are all producers of a short-chain fatty acid, called butyrate.

See, early on, we just thought that there may just be some intestinal bacteria that were able to extract additional calories from what we ate. But, the relationship between our gut flora and obesity has proven to be more complex. Our gut flora may affect how we metabolize fat, for example, through the hormone FIAF—fasting-induced adipose factor.

When we’re fasting, our body has to stop storing fat, and instead start to burn it off. And, fasting-induced adipose factor is one of the hormones that signals our body to do this, which could be useful if we’re obese, and may be one way our gut flora manages our weight. See, some bacteria repress this hormone, “thereby increasing fat storage,” whereas our fiber-eating bacteria, those that secrete short-chain fatty acids, like butyrate, when we feed them with fiber, are able to upregulate this hormone in all human cell lines so far tested.

“Currently, when an individual fails to lose weight…, the only other option is surgery.” But, as the mechanisms of our gut flora’s “role in weight regulation are elucidated, one can envision transplanting the intestinal contents from a thin [individual] into an obese [individual].” Such so-called “fecal transplants” may suffer “from repulsive esthetics,” though. Turns out, there may be easier ways to share.

We’ve known that people who live together share a greater similarity in gut bacteria than those who live apart. Now, this could be because they inadvertently swap bacteria back and forth. Or, maybe it’s just because they just eat similar diets; you know,  living in the same house? We didn’t know, until now. Not only do cohabitating family members share bacteria with one another; they also share with their dogs, who are probably eating a different diet than they are.

In fact, homes may harbor a distinct microbial fingerprint that can be predicted by their occupants. Just by swabbing the doorknobs, you can tell which family lives in which house. Isn’t that wild? And, when a family moves into a new home, the microbial community in the new house rapidly shifts toward that of their old house, suggesting rapid colonization by the family’s bacteria. Experimental evidence suggests that individuals raised in a household of skinny people may be protected against obesity; no fecal transplant necessary. People may be sharing gut bacteria from kitchen stools instead.

And, check this out. People living together share more bacteria than those living apart; we already knew that. But, add a dog to the mix, and the people’s bacteria get even closer. Dogs can act like a bridge to pass bacteria back and forth between people. Curiously, owning cats does not seem to have the same effect. Maybe, because they’re not drinking out of the toilet bowl as much?

Exposure to pet bacteria may actually be beneficial. It’s “intriguing to consider that who we [cohabitate] with, including companion animals, may alter” our physiology, by influencing the bacteria “that we harbor in and on our various body habitats.” Maybe that’s why “[R]ecent studies link early exposure to pets to decreased prevalence of allergies, respiratory conditions, and other immune disorders,” as kids grow older. I’ve talked about those studies in which dog exposure early in life may decrease respiratory infections, especially ear infections. “Children with dog[s]…were significantly healthier,” but we didn’t know why.

We didn’t know the mechanism until, perhaps, now—the first study tying together the protection from respiratory disease (through pet exposure) to differences in gut bacteria. None of the studied infants in homes with pets suffered from wheezy bronchitis within the first two years of life— whereas 15% of the pet-deprived infants had. And, comparing stool samples, this correlated with differences in gut bacteria, “depending on the presence of pets” in the home.

There was this famous study of 12,000 people that found that a person’s chances of becoming obese increased by 57% if he or she had a friend who became obese, suggesting social ties have a big effect. But, given the evidence implicating the role of gut bacteria in obesity, “[t]his raises…the possibility that cravings and associated obesity might not just be “socially contagious”—like you all go out to eat the same fattening food together—”but rather truly [contagious],” like catching a cold.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Jay Malone via flickr. Image has been modified.

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.

Although recent increases in the availability of junk food and decreases in the availability of physical activity have created an obesity-permissive environment, “several other factors may contribute.” We know, for example, the use of antibiotics is linked to obesity; so, our gut flora may play a role.

Recently, specific bacterial species were identified. There are these eight species of bacteria that seem protective against weight gain, and they are all producers of a short-chain fatty acid, called butyrate.

See, early on, we just thought that there may just be some intestinal bacteria that were able to extract additional calories from what we ate. But, the relationship between our gut flora and obesity has proven to be more complex. Our gut flora may affect how we metabolize fat, for example, through the hormone FIAF—fasting-induced adipose factor.

When we’re fasting, our body has to stop storing fat, and instead start to burn it off. And, fasting-induced adipose factor is one of the hormones that signals our body to do this, which could be useful if we’re obese, and may be one way our gut flora manages our weight. See, some bacteria repress this hormone, “thereby increasing fat storage,” whereas our fiber-eating bacteria, those that secrete short-chain fatty acids, like butyrate, when we feed them with fiber, are able to upregulate this hormone in all human cell lines so far tested.

“Currently, when an individual fails to lose weight…, the only other option is surgery.” But, as the mechanisms of our gut flora’s “role in weight regulation are elucidated, one can envision transplanting the intestinal contents from a thin [individual] into an obese [individual].” Such so-called “fecal transplants” may suffer “from repulsive esthetics,” though. Turns out, there may be easier ways to share.

We’ve known that people who live together share a greater similarity in gut bacteria than those who live apart. Now, this could be because they inadvertently swap bacteria back and forth. Or, maybe it’s just because they just eat similar diets; you know,  living in the same house? We didn’t know, until now. Not only do cohabitating family members share bacteria with one another; they also share with their dogs, who are probably eating a different diet than they are.

In fact, homes may harbor a distinct microbial fingerprint that can be predicted by their occupants. Just by swabbing the doorknobs, you can tell which family lives in which house. Isn’t that wild? And, when a family moves into a new home, the microbial community in the new house rapidly shifts toward that of their old house, suggesting rapid colonization by the family’s bacteria. Experimental evidence suggests that individuals raised in a household of skinny people may be protected against obesity; no fecal transplant necessary. People may be sharing gut bacteria from kitchen stools instead.

And, check this out. People living together share more bacteria than those living apart; we already knew that. But, add a dog to the mix, and the people’s bacteria get even closer. Dogs can act like a bridge to pass bacteria back and forth between people. Curiously, owning cats does not seem to have the same effect. Maybe, because they’re not drinking out of the toilet bowl as much?

Exposure to pet bacteria may actually be beneficial. It’s “intriguing to consider that who we [cohabitate] with, including companion animals, may alter” our physiology, by influencing the bacteria “that we harbor in and on our various body habitats.” Maybe that’s why “[R]ecent studies link early exposure to pets to decreased prevalence of allergies, respiratory conditions, and other immune disorders,” as kids grow older. I’ve talked about those studies in which dog exposure early in life may decrease respiratory infections, especially ear infections. “Children with dog[s]…were significantly healthier,” but we didn’t know why.

We didn’t know the mechanism until, perhaps, now—the first study tying together the protection from respiratory disease (through pet exposure) to differences in gut bacteria. None of the studied infants in homes with pets suffered from wheezy bronchitis within the first two years of life— whereas 15% of the pet-deprived infants had. And, comparing stool samples, this correlated with differences in gut bacteria, “depending on the presence of pets” in the home.

There was this famous study of 12,000 people that found that a person’s chances of becoming obese increased by 57% if he or she had a friend who became obese, suggesting social ties have a big effect. But, given the evidence implicating the role of gut bacteria in obesity, “[t]his raises…the possibility that cravings and associated obesity might not just be “socially contagious”—like you all go out to eat the same fattening food together—”but rather truly [contagious],” like catching a cold.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Jay Malone via flickr. Image has been modified.

Doctor's Note

The earlier video I mentioned was Are Cats or Dogs More Protective for Children’s Health?

Viruses may also play a role in obesity; see Infectobesity: Adenovirus 36 & Childhood Obesity. An Obesity-Causing Chicken Virus may help explain the link found between poultry consumption and weight gain (also see Chicken Big: Poultry & Obesity).

The important question is Can Morbid Obesity be Reversed through Diet? That’s why I made the video!

For more on the amazing inner world in our guts, see:

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

84 responses to “Is Obesity Infectious?

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    1. “Very curious what those 8 strains of butyrate creating bacteria are”
      -see 4 of them listed below-

      “Bifidobacteria are Gram-positive, anaerobic, saccharolytic bacteria that
      belong to the phylum Actinobacteria; they mainly occur in the
      gastrointestinal tract of mammals, birds, and insects

      Bifidobacteria are among the first bacteria to colonize the
      human gastrointestinal tract and reach their highest proportion
      in the colon (up to 90% of the total colon microbiota in
      vaginally delivered breast-fed infants) during the first 12 months of life.

      This abundance significantly decreases over time to <5% in adult
      subjects and decreases even more in the elderly.

      It has been shown that the butyrogenic effects of ITF (inulin-type fructans)
      and AXOS (arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides) are the result of cross-feeding
      interactions between bifidobacteria and butyrate-producing colon
      bacteria, such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (clostridial cluster IV)
      and Anaerostipes, Eubacterium, and Roseburia species (clostridial cluster XIVa).

      An important function of the bifidobacterial genus that contributes
      to gut homeostasis and host health is the production of acetate and
      lactate during carbohydrate fermentation, organic acids that in turn
      can be converted into butyrate by other colon bacteria through
      cross-feeding interactions.

      ..interactions possibly favor the co-existence of bifidobacterial strains
      with other bifidobacteria and with butyrate-producing colon bacteria in
      the human colon.

      The short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) acetate, butyrate, and propionate
      are quantitatively and metabolically the most important microbial
      end-products of the human colon fermentation process"

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4923077/




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      1. One of the butyrate producers I listed above, “Roseburia, is associated with weight loss and reduced glucose intolerance.”

        also,
        “A decrease of the butyrate-producing species Roseburia hominis and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii defines dysbiosis in patients with ulcerative colitis.”

        also, you can get a “gut kit” to have your uBiome sequenced and learn what bacteria you have, here:
        http://shop.ubiome.com/

        There is a good article on this topic from Scientific American here:
        https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/among-trillions-of-microbes-in-the-gut-a-few-are-special/

        from the article:
        “transplanted microbes from lean donors to patients recently diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that often predicts type 2 diabetes. The recipients saw improvements in insulin sensitivity and an enrichment of their microbiota, including among those clostridial species. But six months after the transplant the patients had relapsed, metabolic improvements had faded and their microbes had reverted to their original states.”
        “the dance between human host and microbial community has considerable momentum. Removing the “diseased” ecosystem and installing a new one may not overcome the inertia. The gut immune system may simply mold the new community in the image of the old. That may explain why fecal transplants, which effectively vanquish C. difficile–associated diarrhea, have so far failed to treat inflammatory bowel disease”
        “To overcome the inertia, Sonnenburg foresees treating the host and the microbiota simultaneously. The idea has not been tested, but he imagines clearing out the microbiota, perhaps with antibiotics, followed by immunosuppressants to quiet the patient’s immune system and allow healing. Only then might the new community of microbes stick and successfully recalibrate the immune system.”




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      2. about Roseburia, again.. apparently it can be restored by eating mushrooms.

        “Recently, the ability of chitin–glucan (CG) from a fungal source to modulate both the gut microbiota and glucose and lipid metabolism in high-fat (HF) diet-induced obese mice have been studied. The supplementation of the HF diet with fungal CG (10% w/w) restored the number of bacteria from clostridial cluster XIVa including Roseburia spp., which were decreased due to HF feeding. Furthermore, CG treatment significantly decreased HF induced body weight gain, fat mass development, fasting hyperglycemia, glucose intolerance, hepatic triglyceride accumulation and hypercholesterolemia, independently of the caloric intake.”

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263193/




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      1. Cats like big bowls because then the wiskers do not touch anything whilst drinking. Cats have very limited vision within a feet of their eyes. Most things that come withing that range are felt with their wiskers. Most cats will chose shallow and wide bowls to drink out of when given the choice. Also fresh water, preferably away from their food will be more to their liking. The theory is that water, close to food could be contaminated (rotting meat in water supply).




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  1. I can find little information on hydrogen producing gut bacteria. This molecular hydrogen is possibly the most important antioxidant in our system, since it is the only one that is small enough to protect DNA. The mechanism of antibiotic use to fatten up farm animals seems to be a well guarded secret. It could be that species of certain bacteria may actually go extinct from reckless use of these. Attend a dairyman’s convention, You’ll be surprised at the level of obesity among a group that gets plenty of exercise and lives far from most fast food.




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    1. You may be interested in this review. Hydrogen is a common fermentation product, produced by the gut microbiota of all individuals, but its consumed by acetogenic, methanogenic and sulphate-reducing bacteria.




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      1. The review mentions the antioxidant properties, but its true significance is greatly underestimated. The AA NA study is highly flawed. Most studies of this sort do not differentiate between industrial raised animal products and correctly raised products, There’s a world of difference. The one thing Africa has, that we don’t is an absence of nuclear reactors. The single most carcinogenic substance on earth ( a single drop is fatal) is tritiated water. You and I are exposed to 10x natural background continuously and on occasion up to 5000x in ordinary daily life. I’ll give you proof if you like. Others found this incredulous until I showed them my source. Read the Cerrie report on tritium for more background. Molecular hydrogen is the only antidote for this poison.




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    2. The review mentions the antioxidant properties, but its true significance is greatly underestimated. The AA NA study is highly flawed. Most studies of this sort do not differentiate between industrial raised animal products and correctly raised products, There’s a world of difference. The one thing Africa has, that we don’t is an absence of nuclear reactors. The single most carcinogenic substance on earth ( a single drop is fatal) is tritiated water. You and I are exposed to 10x natural background continuously and on occasion up to 5000x in ordinary daily life. I’ll give you proof if you like. Others found this incredulous until I showed them my source. Read the Cerrie report on tritium for more background. Molecular hydrogen is the only antidote for this poison.




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    1. Butter??? All dairy is hurtful in my opinion, haven’t you seen the documentary Forks over Knives? if not you should also check out other findings by the doctors involved.
      Mike
      Mike




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      1. Myself have not bought butter for over a year , but know people who swear that it’s good stuff.
        Under the war in Norway and Denmark almost all diseases seemed to disappear , my great uncle was a Doctor then he even noted in his journals that he went from seeing 12 people a day to an average of one , back then the doctor came to you.
        I have seen this mentioned on this site, McDougall has too and I believe Dr. Furhman as well has mentioned the absents of disease under the war in those countries. If you look at this website and look at figuire two you will see animal fat consumption way down , margarine down to almost zero but butter consumption way up, more than double.
        aof.revues.org/7100




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      2. Megan didn’t say that butter was good for you. She stated that butter contains butyrate which can be good for you. She states to stay away from butter because of its health-harming other components. It appears, perhaps, that her entire thought was not considered.




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    2. Hello! My name is Megan and I am another volunteer for NF and a nutrition student. I would go so far as to say that the butyrate itself in butter can be beneficial. However, the other properties of butter can be very harmful to your health due to it’s high saturated fat content (http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/butter/). I would recommend that you consume fiber-rich plant-based foods that encourage your gut bacteria to produce butyrate – broccoli, quinoa, lentils, and barley are just a few examples to give you an idea. Hopefully this helps!




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  2. It always grosses me out when someone let there dog lick them on the face or mouth. Dogs and cats can lick parts of there body that are very unpleasant just before doing so.




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    1. My husband and I once spent an hour in a car with friends while she and her dog shared an ice cream cone. It grossed us out, but she said people are healthier from having dogs lick them. It still grossed us both out. Of course, she and the dog would have been better off just licking and skipping the ice cream.




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  3. After my (very rare occasional) use of antibiotics, I use probiotics to restore gut bacteria. First: is this a good idea? Second, since I am a vegan, is there a probiotic product that is better for renewing a vegan micro biome vs. a SAD micro biome? The probiotic products don’t mention anything about the two biome types Dr. Greger has explained.




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      1. According to this website those fermented foods has adverse effects on your health. You would be far better off with a product like Flora Critical Care Probiotic as just one example . If you have any gut issues , you can feel a difference the first day .
        That one is really expensive , so what we do is take it 6 days in a row and just wait till we feel a need again, normally we only take 6 a month , making it more affordable. Keeps really well in the fridge.




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      1. I use this one…I’m cheap….

        http://www.swansonvitamins.com/swanson-ultra-dynamic-balance-blend-soil-based-organisms-90-veg-caps

        http://www.raysahelian.com/probiotics.html

        I asked Dr. S.K. Dash, President of UAS Laboratories, Inc. and an expert in this field. He responded, “Probiotics are acid and bile resistant. Not only do they pass stomach acid, they implant in the intestine, produce digestive enzymes, vitamins, lactic acid and natural antibiotics. Probiotics do not need enteric coating to be effective.”




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          1. If your wife is pregnant…probably not the time to experiment with probiotics?

            My experience with probiotics is that they do make a difference…but it is mild and minor…just seems to smooth digestive issues out some over time…but takes time to notice a difference.

            In the case of pregnancy…find a good doctor? Not the time to mess around….




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            1. I thought probiotics were really safe. I have stopped giving her certain things, like goji berries because it had the prop 65 label in very small letters. That’s a california law that warns that the food has contaminants known to increase the risk of birth defects. But everything I have seen on probiotics suggest they are very safe for pregnancy.




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    1. Most bacterial strains found in probiotics ( like Lactobacillus sp.) are relatively minor components of healthy gut microbiomes, with the notable exception of Bifidobacterium longum. They’re used because they’re easy to culture, and as many are found in fermented foods, they have “generally regarded as safe” status in the US and “qualified presumption of safety” in the EU. Much recent research on beneficial strains focuses on Clostridium cluster XIVa, F. prausnitzii, and A. muciniphila, abundant in healthy colons, but as they aren’t found in fermented foods, they would require safety studies before regulatory approval.

      There’s also a consistent message from probiotics trials that while they’re detected during the intervention, they rapidly disappear when the probiotics are discontinued. Microbiome experts commony hold that in their stressed state from shelf-storage and passage through the stomach, probiotic bacteria don’t compete strongly for established niches on the colon wall.

      Some of the microbiota can survive antibiotics, and there’s a regular exchange with household members (including pets) and the environment. These might provide reservoirs for restoring species lost during courses of antibiotics. The most important determinant of the gut microbiota diversity over the long term is habitual diet, with greater amounts of microbiota available carbohydrates (from bran, beans, and bulbs) and lesser amounts of dietary fats and protein probably contributing to the patterns typical in plant-based diets.




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      1. with greater amounts of microbiota available carbohydrates (from bran, beans, and bulbs)” ….you wrote.

        I wonder why raw fruit is not high on this list. Any ideas why not? Were the primates way back when actually eating less fruit and more roots, bran, greens, then we often assume? A lot of vegans think the primates lived primarily off fruit, maybe so, but wondering still why the microbiota available carbs wouldn’t have fruit at the top of the list. What do you think?




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        1. I just like the alliterative shorthand because it condenses the most abundant sources of prebiotic microbiota available carbohydrates in modern diets. However, there are fermentable fructans in apple, white peaches, rambutan, and persimmon, and watermelon; and while not generally thought of as prebiotics, gut bacteria make use of the polyols in apples, apricots, cherries, longon, lychee, nectarine, pears, peaches, plums, and watermelon. Bananas are a source for both fructans and when unripe, resistant starch.




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    2. I have definitely seen research supporting the use of probiotics concurrently or post-antibiotic use to restore gut flora, especially in prevention of associated diarrhoea and prevention of other adverse effects of antibiotics.
      For example-
      http://www.nature.com/ajg/journal/v97/n11/abs/ajg2002706a.html
      and
      http://journals.lww.com/jcge/Abstract/2006/03000/Probiotics_for_the_Prevention_of.17.aspx
      and
      http://jmm.microbiologyresearch.org/content/journal/jmm/10.1099/jmm.0.47615-0
      and
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X13015879

      There is discussion of strains here-
      http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1151505

      Non-probiotic interventions to alter gut flora here-
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/boosting-good-bacteria-in-the-colon-without-probiotics/
      and here-
      http://nutritionfacts.org/questions/what-is-a-good-source-of-probiotics/
      In which Dr Greger refers to Dr Klaper’s article here-
      http://doctorklaper.com/answers/answers06/




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  4. I think a sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet is the main cause of obesity, genetics is a secondary cause.

    And yes letting your dogs lick you has been proven to transfer pathogens. As Lucy says: “YUCK…dog germs!”




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  5. This is fascinating and explains me and my family! Even super clean eating won’t burn all the fat! Aside from fecal transplants, I hope they can find a way to “can” these skinny bacteria!




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      1. This video says that fermented foods are good to eat in order to establish healthy gut bacteria. But, I have read that Dr. Greger thinks that fermented foods are not really good for us. Please explain this contradiction.




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        1. John Axsom: I don’t remember ever reading that Dr. Greger thinks all fermented foods are not really good for us. Where did you read that?
          .
          NutritionFacts does highlight some highly salted fermented foods which I believe are associated with stomach cancer (? just going by memory). But the issue there is the salt, not that the food is fermented.




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          1. Here is the link to the kimchee video where Dr. G suggests fermented foods may not be good for us. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-kimchi-good-for-you/
            Here is a quote from one of the resources Dr. G. used in the information for this video:
            “The cancer risk tended to increase with increasing consumption of pickled vegetables, fermented soy products, salted fish and preserved meats, all with significant dose–response relationships. In particular, the effect of pickled vegetables was substantial among the preserved food subgroups. Results from the 109 recent patients were also similar (data not shown).”
            Here is the conclusion statement:
            “In conclusion, the evidence from Chinese men suggests that consumption of preserved foods may increase the risk of prostate cancer.”
            And here is the link to the paper:
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2409746/ so one can read it if they choose.




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            1. Well, OK, but there is a big difference between “fermented” and “preserved” foods. There are strange bedfellows in that long list, and it does not seem that any attempt was made to separate the factors.




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          2. Dr. G.’s video on kimchee suggests that all fermented foods are not healthy for us:
            http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-kimchi-good-for-you/ if you read his reference material here is a conclusion:
            “In conclusion, the evidence from Chinese men suggests that consumption of preserved foods may increase the risk of prostate cancer. ”

            However, – there was also this (from the same paper):
            “Table 2 presents the results from separate multivariate logistic regression fits for each preserved food consumption measure. The total amount of preserved food consumed was positively associated with cancer risk, the adjusted odds ratio being 7.05 (95% CI: 3.12–15.90) for the highest quartile relative to the lowest quartile of intake. The cancer risk tended to increase with increasing consumption of pickled vegetables, fermented soy products, salted fish and preserved meats, all with significant dose–response relationships. In particular, the effect of pickled vegetables was substantial among the preserved food subgroups. Results from the 109 recent patients were also similar (data not shown).”

            Here is the link to the paper:
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2409746/

            This video, however, doesn’t clarify if the issue is the salt or the fermenting, or pickling. If one googles the definition of fermenting, this is what comes up:
            “the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat.
            the process of fermentation involved in the making of beer, wine, and liquor, in which sugars are converted to ethyl alcohol.” Doesn’t mention salt.

            I enjoy kimchee but I make my own, salting first, let sit, then rinse the vegg well removing the salt. Then the rest of the ingredients can be added as desired.

            One could also make a fresh kimchee where the desired ingredients are put together but eaten more immediately and not allowed to ferment (I am thinking sans salt).




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            1. Thanks @Rachel and @Jan for your replies. I clearly need to go back and watch that kimchee video again.
              .
              Just an initial thought before I do any more research: As an example, it’s my understanding that something like pickles can be made from salt or vinegar. NutritionFacts has videos talking about the healthful nature of vinegar and the unhealthful-ness of salt. It’s hard for me to believe that all fermented foods are unhealthy.




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  6. I know a family where the wife has been extremely obese for most of her life, but the husband has been thin and underweight all of his life. Also, the three children are thin. This is just one family that I know about. I imagine you could find thousands of families where just one person in the family was obese and all the rest were thin. So….how do you account for that. This contradicts the theory of this video.




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    1. John Axsom: Does it really contradict the video? I don’t understand the video to be saying there is only one cause of obesity (or lack there-of). If you look at the doctor’s note under the video, Dr. Greger highlights other/additional factors that can play a role in whether one is obese or not. Different factors are playing a role in the family you mentioned, but that doesn’t mean that gut bacteria do not play a role in obesity when it comes to a significant number of humans in general. What do you think?




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    2. This video does not mean that the ONLY reason for obesity or thinness is bacteria. You don’t REALLY know what is going on in this family. It could STILL be that the wife loves to eat, eat, eat, . . .which will override any bacterial colonization with sufficient calories . . .while the rest of the family does not overeat. You just don’t know unless one has performed a thorough investigation of ALL possible causation.
      Just because a hypothesis shows a possible explanation does mean that all situations fall into place under that particular umbrella. Biology has many interactions and causation which, over time, elucidate understanding. . . .which often changes.

      And please let me explain that this video presentation has presented a HYPOTHESIS. It has not presented a THEORY.




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      1. Correction – “Just because a hypothesis shows a possible explanation does NOT mean that all situations fall into place under that particular umbrella”.
        Thank you.




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  7. eistein say the most powerful force in the universe is compounding interests.

    This implies that what is most important is to have a diet that emphasize on fiber to multiple per meal basis the benefial bacteriors that produce the fasting anti fat hormone.

    soon the beneficial bacteriors will clear the swamp in the stomach of bad bacteriors. Make ourseleves great again.




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    1. Smith: had a chuckle reading your comment. Were Einstein alive today, he might say that the most powerful force in the universe is ignorance.




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  8. I think this is interesting but potentially it could be used an excuse. It can make obesity seem like catching the flu, whereas in most cases (not all) obesity is based on the individual’s personal choices… It risks to foster a victim mentality instead of empowering people to make healthy choices.




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    1. Obesity is a choice? The AMA has declared obesity a disease. If your MD, PHD, or other advanced education, or research studies shows its a “choice”, take it up with them.




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  9. The 4-minute PCRM video below is excellent. It states that people who eat plant diets will automatically grow healthy and “skinny” gut-biome. Those eating meat-based diets will also automatically grow the gut flora that is harmful to us. When you switch the diet from plant to meat or vice-versa, the gut biome will change to reflect the current diet. It takes only about two weeks for this to happen.
    An excellent book on our interrelationship with bacteria is one recommended (via this site by another poster) by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. His recommendation is “10% Human” by Allana Collan, Ph.D.
    https://www.amazon.com/10-Human-Microbes-Health-Happiness/dp/0062345990




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  10. Hi, I dont know If Its here but someone told me that if i have medical quest’ i should comment in this web under a video.
    i am 21 years old, i have hard time to start running, i am getting exustted to fast, my lungs dont let me run furthr, i am not fat or anything i am kanida skinny iwill say, its just about after 500 m, i get very tired, i dont know if its connect to this, but whole my family is smoking, i grew in smoking home and mybe its effect on my lungs?
    in the age of 19, i joind to pre militry progreem and saw i am very back from the other ppl, even ppl that did not run before the progrem, i am just getting super fast !, i started to intrest in health about 2 month ago and before 1.5 month i start to eat full plant based diet, and know i want to RUN ! its my desire now to run longer, reach to the 5 kilometer !! its my dream, but acording to my shape its look inpossible !
    what you think i should do?
    and another quest its connected to the first, what your opinion on flatfeet ppl, i have flat feet, and what shoes i need? or i dont need shoes? how should i run, i hope my english was good, srry for bothering you guys, but its told me that a in here there is a good and pro ppl :)
    have a nice day




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    1. Nice going Itamar, you are well on your way. There are much smarter athletes here than me but I wanted to suggest that you walk when you can not run. The way I do is simply decide how my pain I want to endure, then switch back to walking. I finish the circuit that way and somedays I can run a mile. Your goal is bigger but you will soon reach that and beyond, I can tell. Even 500 meters is a very good start.

      Move out if you can’t convince them to stop smoking. Smoke = poison.

      Feet – can you go to a good doctor? Orthotics could be a simple fix for you…do you get shin splints?




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      1. Thank for responding, the simple doctors gave me, something to put in my shoe, its like pattern of my leg and her weak spots and supporting her, but i will search good doctor




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        1. You might have weak feet if you have been wearing shoes a lot your whole life. Shoes really aren’t natural. Our feet actually like to get beat up. So go barefoot to strengthen your feet. Start slow and build up. I can run 5 miles a day barefoot because my feet and ankles are very strong, the way they are supposed to be.




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    2. Hi Itamar, It sounds like you may have ‘exercise induced asthma’. This is something you should speak to your regular doctor about, there are simple and effective ways to treat it. However, if you are smoking r even around smoke, that can cause exactly the problems that you describe. I am confident that if you get away from the smoke, and clarify the asthma question, you will be able to train and run just as is normal for anyone your age. It may be wise also to get your doctor to check your heart. I think it is great that you are eating a plant based diet. But the smoke will still be a problem even if your diet is perfect. I will refer you to a website with tips in Hebrew, http://www.dr-maisel.co.il בהצלחה!




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  11. Although it has been proven that our gut bacteria has a strong (and maybe even determining effect) on our weight, claiming that obesity is contagious is a very problematic statement. Given that weight discrimination is widely accepted and the stereotype about people suffering from obesity begin with “lazy”, “disheveled”, “have no will power” and up to downright “stupid”, I think you need to be very careful with adding the word “contagious” to this list. As a woman who has overcome obesity many years ago and is now working in the field – the idea is to help people overcome obesity, get healthy and change their habits – not to isolate them.




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    1. Danielle, I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger–thank you so much for your input. I also tend to agree with you–giving people an excuse for why they are unhealthy will not encourage them to make the necessary changes they need to make in order to get better. However, Dr. Greger is simply relaying what the science says. But I do agree–I think he would have benefited by saying that although some research indicates that there is a slight contagious aspect to it, diet and lifestyle are by far the greatest predictor of health. Good point Danielle!




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    2. Danielle,

      I completely agree…..it’s dangerous to take the information out of context, however it is clearly understood that indeed our gut bacteria do have an impact on both weight and a host of other factors.

      I don’t think that Dr. Greger or any of us, on NutritionFacts, would be inclined to suggest that this should be taken as weight discrimination any more that the multitude of other disorders that were mentioned that result from a certain microbiome.

      It would be helpful to discuss the differences in bacteria, on say a cutting board when one changes to a different dietary habit and how this would potentially change the nature of your microbiome or perhaps we should dive deeper into the bacterial transfers in bathrooms. Perhaps the work on airplane restrooms and e-coli on surfaces, etc. has clearly documented itself as a transfer site to consider avoiding when possible. Now we have an additional piece of the scientific puzzle and should capitalize on how to make the changes in our own environments.

      My suspicion is that a cleaning of home surfaces and diet change will only be a portion of what’s needed. Some foods could/should contain the bacteria that will direct our guts inhabitants toward more appropriate mixtures.

      My suspicion is that you will see supplement manufacturers or the pharmaceutical industry capitalizing on these known facts and using a probiotic or other bacterial phage approach to sell weight loss to the public. The message is that you influence your poop with what you ingest and your environment.

      Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger




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  12. I haven’t been able to find a video regarding to fasting so I will just post my question here.

    So I am curious what the doctor’s view would be on fasting on water only for a number of days, given it’s becoming a popular way to control weight. It also comes with some claims such as helping immune and digestive systems, regenerating white blood cells, high blood pressure and many many more.




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    1. Mu Gr: I think this is probably one of the most highly asked for videos. Dr. Greger is aware of this request and it is on his list of topics to cover. It is a complicated subject and he wants to do it right. So, it’s not something he can do a quickie video on. Be patient. It’s coming at some point.




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  13. I’m pretty sure that the reason cats do not have an effects is because of FEL D1, a protein that is encoded by the CH1 (chain 1/Fel d 1-A) and CH2 (chain 2/Fel d 1-B) genes.




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  14. So if I end up sharing my microbiome with my puppy, should I put my puppy on a vegan diet too so I am not ending up with the meat-aspects of my puppies microbiome that may be causing health issues?




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    1. Daniel: I don’t know if that is a good reason to feed your dog a vegan diet. I’m guessing we don’t have enough evidence to say one way or another. At the same time, there may be other good reasons to feed a dog a carefully chosen vegan diet. My vegan dog has long outlived his breed average. Let me know if you are interested in learning more.




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