Microbiome: We Are What They Eat

Microbiome: We Are What They Eat
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What happens to our gut flora when we switch from a more animal-based diet to a more plant-based diet?

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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.

Good bacteria—those that live in symbiosis with us—are nourished by fruit and veggies, grains, and beans, whereas dysbiosis—bad bacteria that may contribute to disease—are fed by meat, junk food and fast food, seafood, dairy, and eggs. Typical Western diets can “decimate” our good gut flora.

We live with trillions of symbionts—good bacteria that live in symbiosis with us. We help them; they help us. And, a month on a plant-based diet results in an increase of the good guys, and a decrease in the bad—the so-called pathobionts, the disease-causing bugs. “Given the disappearance of pathobionts from the intestine, one would expect to observe a reduction in intestinal inflammation…”

So, they measured stool concentrations of “lipocalin-2…, which is a sensitive biomarker of intestinal inflammation.” And, within a month of eating healthy, it had declined significantly, suggesting that “promotion of microbial homeostasis”—or balance—”by [a strict vegetarian diet] resulted in reduced intestinal inflammation.” And, this rebalancing may have played a role in the “improved metabolic and [immune system] parameters.”

On an “animal-based diet,” you get growth of disease-associated species, like “Bilophila wadsworthia [associated with inflammatory bowel disease and] A. putredinis [found in abscesses and appendicitis],” and a decrease in fiber-eating bacteria. Eat fiber, and the fiber-munching bacteria multiply, and we get more anti-inflammatory, anticancer short-chain fatty acids. Eat less fiber, and our fiber-eating bacteria starve away.

They are what we eat. Eat a lot of phytates, and your gut flora get really good at breaking down phytates. We assumed this was just because we were naturally selecting for those populations of bacteria that could do that. But, it turns out our diet can teach old bugs new tricks.

There’s one type of fiber in nori seaweed that our gut bacteria can’t normally break down, but the bacteria out in the ocean that eat seaweed have an enzyme to do so. When it was discovered that the enzyme was present in the guts of Japanese people, it presented a mystery. Sure, sushi is eaten raw; and so, some seaweed bacteria may have made it into their colons. But, how could some marine bacteria thrive in the human gut? They didn’t need to; they transferred the nori-eating enzyme to our own gut bacteria.

“Consequently, the consumption of food with associated environmental bacteria is the most likely mechanism that promoted [the enzyme] update into our [own] gut microbe[s]”—almost like a software update. We have the same hardware—the same gut bacteria—but, they just updated their software to chew on something new.

Hardware can change too, though. The reason this is called “The way to a man’s heart is through his gut microbiota” is because they were talking about TMAO. Certain gut flora can take carnitine from the red meat we eat, or the choline concentrated in dairy, and seafood, and eggs, and convert it into a toxic compound, which may lead to an increase in our risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.

This explains why those eating more plant-based diets have lower blood concentrations of the stuff. But, they also produce less of the toxin—even if you feed them a steak. You don’t see the same conversion, “suggesting an adoptive response of the gut microbiota in omnivores.” They are what we feed them.

It’s like if you give people cyclamate, a synthetic artificial sweetener. Most of our bacteria don’t know what to do with it. But, you feed it to people for ten days, and select for the few bacteria that were hip to the new synthetic chemical. Eventually, three-quarters of the cyclamate you eat is metabolized by the bacteria into another new compound called cyclohexylamine. But, stop eating it, and those bacteria die back. Unfortunately, cyclohexylamine may be toxic, and so, was banned by the FDA in 1969. Whereas regular Kool-Aid, evidently, is “completely safe.”

But, if you just ate cyclamate once in a while, it wouldn’t turn into cyclohexylamine, because you wouldn’t have fed and fostered the gut flora specialized to do so. And, the same with TMAO. Those that just eat red meat, eggs, or seafood once in a while would presumably make very little of the toxin, because they hadn’t been cultivating the bacteria that produces it.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image courtesy of Shannon Coffey via flickr.

Icons created by Graham Jefferson, Alexander Skowalsky, Gorkem Oner, Maxim Kulikov, and Artem Kovyazin from the Noun Project.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

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.

Good bacteria—those that live in symbiosis with us—are nourished by fruit and veggies, grains, and beans, whereas dysbiosis—bad bacteria that may contribute to disease—are fed by meat, junk food and fast food, seafood, dairy, and eggs. Typical Western diets can “decimate” our good gut flora.

We live with trillions of symbionts—good bacteria that live in symbiosis with us. We help them; they help us. And, a month on a plant-based diet results in an increase of the good guys, and a decrease in the bad—the so-called pathobionts, the disease-causing bugs. “Given the disappearance of pathobionts from the intestine, one would expect to observe a reduction in intestinal inflammation…”

So, they measured stool concentrations of “lipocalin-2…, which is a sensitive biomarker of intestinal inflammation.” And, within a month of eating healthy, it had declined significantly, suggesting that “promotion of microbial homeostasis”—or balance—”by [a strict vegetarian diet] resulted in reduced intestinal inflammation.” And, this rebalancing may have played a role in the “improved metabolic and [immune system] parameters.”

On an “animal-based diet,” you get growth of disease-associated species, like “Bilophila wadsworthia [associated with inflammatory bowel disease and] A. putredinis [found in abscesses and appendicitis],” and a decrease in fiber-eating bacteria. Eat fiber, and the fiber-munching bacteria multiply, and we get more anti-inflammatory, anticancer short-chain fatty acids. Eat less fiber, and our fiber-eating bacteria starve away.

They are what we eat. Eat a lot of phytates, and your gut flora get really good at breaking down phytates. We assumed this was just because we were naturally selecting for those populations of bacteria that could do that. But, it turns out our diet can teach old bugs new tricks.

There’s one type of fiber in nori seaweed that our gut bacteria can’t normally break down, but the bacteria out in the ocean that eat seaweed have an enzyme to do so. When it was discovered that the enzyme was present in the guts of Japanese people, it presented a mystery. Sure, sushi is eaten raw; and so, some seaweed bacteria may have made it into their colons. But, how could some marine bacteria thrive in the human gut? They didn’t need to; they transferred the nori-eating enzyme to our own gut bacteria.

“Consequently, the consumption of food with associated environmental bacteria is the most likely mechanism that promoted [the enzyme] update into our [own] gut microbe[s]”—almost like a software update. We have the same hardware—the same gut bacteria—but, they just updated their software to chew on something new.

Hardware can change too, though. The reason this is called “The way to a man’s heart is through his gut microbiota” is because they were talking about TMAO. Certain gut flora can take carnitine from the red meat we eat, or the choline concentrated in dairy, and seafood, and eggs, and convert it into a toxic compound, which may lead to an increase in our risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.

This explains why those eating more plant-based diets have lower blood concentrations of the stuff. But, they also produce less of the toxin—even if you feed them a steak. You don’t see the same conversion, “suggesting an adoptive response of the gut microbiota in omnivores.” They are what we feed them.

It’s like if you give people cyclamate, a synthetic artificial sweetener. Most of our bacteria don’t know what to do with it. But, you feed it to people for ten days, and select for the few bacteria that were hip to the new synthetic chemical. Eventually, three-quarters of the cyclamate you eat is metabolized by the bacteria into another new compound called cyclohexylamine. But, stop eating it, and those bacteria die back. Unfortunately, cyclohexylamine may be toxic, and so, was banned by the FDA in 1969. Whereas regular Kool-Aid, evidently, is “completely safe.”

But, if you just ate cyclamate once in a while, it wouldn’t turn into cyclohexylamine, because you wouldn’t have fed and fostered the gut flora specialized to do so. And, the same with TMAO. Those that just eat red meat, eggs, or seafood once in a while would presumably make very little of the toxin, because they hadn’t been cultivating the bacteria that produces it.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image courtesy of Shannon Coffey via flickr.

Icons created by Graham Jefferson, Alexander Skowalsky, Gorkem Oner, Maxim Kulikov, and Artem Kovyazin from the Noun Project.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

82 responses to “Microbiome: We Are What They Eat

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  1. I really would like to know how to fight Candida.
    There is a lot of conflicting information out there – high carb low fat (ala 80/10/10) makes it worse for me (okay i just tried it for 4 days but its nearly unbareable now).

    Lucky that today’s video is so related so I hope I’ll find someone who knows how to fix this issue (somehow “candida” isnt mentioned once on the side as far as i can tell).

    Thx in advance – I need some angel to help :p




    4
    1. Sorry that I don’t have the exact reference, but last year the comments section on Chris Kresser’s website had an active discussion about a successful natural treatment for candida. It involved taking oregano oil several times a day to kill the yeast, followed by activated charcoal awhile later to soak up the toxins produced from the yeast being killed. Maybe with a little digging you can find the info.

      Also, completely avoid all sugars (including dried fruit) and all grains (even whole) as these feed yeast.




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    2. Diatomaceous earth is thee fastest way. I know, struggled with it for years and every type of cleanse, I always eat clean but bio-unavailable copper contributes, it stored when I was on birth control, birth control is bad stuff. Also, if you’re eating alot of raw vegetables without adequate zinc supplementation copper can store as well. So if th candida is not going away you have to deal with that first, by either zinc loading or eating weed edibles – it is part of what makes you feel good when it is releasing. What you will also need is Molybdenum to convert it in th liver.




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    3. i took a pill for mine, i took two pills on a sunday, then 2 more a week later. they worked very well. i had it come back about a year later and went back to the doctor and repeated the process, and it worked again.




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    4. I had candida for years which after some journaling I linked to my menstrual cycle. Hormonal issues like Estrogen dominance and Hypothyroidism have recurrent thrush as a symptom. Now I am being treated for these things the recurrent candida infections are subsiding.

      I have been whole foods high carb vegan for 2.5 years focused on beans, grains, veggies and a small amount of fruit. Until I got treatment for my hormonal issues (which were not going through diet alone) the candida continued. I hope you find your solution. But if you don’t look into the estrogen dominance and Hypothyroidism link as it’s often overlooked. Take care.




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  2. Hi, theonewhichisunknown. First of all, I am not sure how you determined that you have a problem with candida. Did you have a stool test? If not, you might want to have one done to see what the composition of your intestinal microflora actually is. If you do have an excess of Candida albicans, then I have some suggestions for you.
    High carb low fat, as you describe it, could take many forms, including some of the favorite foods of Candida albicans. I recommend following Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen, which you can find here: https://nutritionfacts.org/app/themes/sage/dist/images/book/daily-dozen_6c40d3eb.jpg
    Focus on whole foods, low-glycemic fruits such as berries, avoid sugars and refined grain products. Eat beans. If they give you an unreasonable amount of gas (some gas is not really a bad thing), soak dry beans overnight and drain before cooking, and try pureeing them before eating in small amounts, working up to larger quantities so that your gut flora can adapt. Chewing a few fennel seeds can help with gas, if you don’t mind their licorice-like flavor. You may find it helpful to drink Pau d’Arco tea and take a Saccharomyces boulardii supplement as directed on the package.
    If you decide to try this, I would love for you to report back after 2-3 weeks and let us know how it goes. I hope that helps!




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    1. i didnt go to the doc (well i did but at the time he didnt make the connection) but the symptoms r just too obvious:
      thrush (medium) dry skin (mildly) – itchy scalp (medium) – insatiable hunger (very much) – craving sweet stuff (medium) – bloating (very much…no matter what food) – slow digestion (mildly) – general weakness (medium) – tiredness (very much) – joint pain (mildly but can flear up at times if eaten sweet food before)…and some other shit i probably forgot

      im already on a whole food plant based diet – no oil no salt no sugar low AGEs no frying…heck – i even tri-cooked the brown rice thats in the kitchen right now (to increase resistant starch and thus (hopefully?) feed my good gut bacteria) and let it cool down between the cookings

      i dont have digestive pain…like ever – but i can “bulge” out my belly like im pregnant (and im just a very thin guy lol)

      beans are no problem for me – or…well – they make me bloated just as much as ANY other food does (fyi: if i fasting im not bloated – and i never have blood in my stool so its probably not crohn’s….just some IBS bullshit caused by candida)
      and yes i also eat just whole foods (even eating stupid brown noodles which taste like nothing…(especially with this stupid thrush going on on my tongue urgh))




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      1. I have a friend (no really) who treated successfully with Miconazole. “Orivig” is OTC where I live, not sure of the spelling. Candida is an opportunist so you might be wise to see if there are other health issues to correct too. Christine’s advise is good.




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      2. theonewhichisunknown, I just wanted to add a few minor sugestions to Christine’s and Plantivorous’ excellent replies.
        1. When I had the beginnings of a thrush infection, I used 1/4 tsp each of salt and baking soda in a half glass of water as a mouth wash three times daily. Seemed to take care of it, though I kept up the mouth wash for a couple of weeks past the ‘cure’ date to make sure.
        2. I gave up all flour products ie bread, pasta, noodle dishes, and white rice and white potatoes that could be used to feed the candidae.
        3. Please be aware of food safety ( and risk of food poisoning) re cooking and cooling rice. This practice could add to your digestive woes. For the resistant starch, I cook and cool rice ONCE, then add chopped vegies and maybe cooked lentils for a cold rice salad. I also used cold (or hot) baked sweet potatoes /squash on spinach salads.
        4. Christine’s suggestion of having stool testing done is a good one.. with your symptoms, it might be prudent to ask them to check for a parasitic infection as well depending on your recent travel/work history.
        Just some ideas to kick around. Though you cant go wrong with the whole food plant based diet you might need to tweak it a bit to give you the energy you require to feel your best. Best of luck!




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        1. Hey kporigow. Do you know if videos on Intermittent Fasting are in the line up? I thought I heard Dr. G indicate as much but that was two series of videos ago.
          –Thanks for all you do.




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          1. I am pretty sure they are in the research line-up right now, though I’m not sure when they will be out! Sorry I don’t have more info at this time!




            0
    2. Speaking of beans, I just recently learned more about eliminating the gas factor. It’s true that soaking overnight helps…but not enough in my case. Then I heard Ocean Robbins talking about it and he suggested soaking them for 24-48 hours, and making several changes of water and rinsing them each time. So I tried soaking them overnight, changing the water and soaking them three or four hours longer. That did the trick! Scarcely a trace of gas! And, if that doesn’t work for you, try the 24-48 hour soak with several changes of water.




      8
      1. I think the main reason for the improvement isn’t the extra soaking per se, but the fact that they start the process of germination or sprouting which utilizes the problematic stored starches that cause the issues. Here in S Florida heat, soaking that long would give me fermented beans, so I soak them overnight and just rinse 3X a day for a day or two. Works great also.




        5
        1. VegeTater, Would you please send us a little Florida sunshine? So far we’re having the summer that never was up here in the diagonally opposite end of the country! But there’s still hope for July-September.




          1
      2. Thank you for the recommendation Rebecca. I will try rinsing more thoroughly before I cook them. I now use a pressure cooker and let them cook for about 35 mins after the control jiggles, then remove and let sit for another 10 mins.
        This seems to result in thoroughly cooked beans which has dramatically reduced the gas effect.




        1
    3. so i followed the advice but – spoiler alert: it didnt work lol
      until 10 days ago i did the daily dozen + low fat + low protein + high carb (12/12/76ish…no cheating at all)
      i ate 1800-2300 calories a day

      my sugar cravings actually went away pretty much completely (yay!) but my tiredness thrush bloating and dandruff got even more…one might think its die off but that would be some oddly long die off to me – the last 10 days ive eating just fruit pretty much but that isnt helping either (or possibly even worsening the thrush lol – my tongue looks somewhat retarded now)

      i also noticed the boating got pretty severe when i ate lentils – it took me like 6 hours to get back to normal after 200g (cooked) lentils + brown rice
      stone fruit also seem to be pretty heavy on the bloating side… i also went to a doc and let my blood get checked – it was all okay
      yes i know it would be smarter to go to a specialist and take some stool thingy but in germany it takes very long to get an appointment…(im having one next month)
      …but i rly dont wanna wait that long..D:
      need help plz D:




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      1. I am sorry to hear that the advice did not work for you. Refresh my memory, since I answer a lot of questions here. Did I recommend pau d’arco tea and saccharomyces boulardii to you? If so, did you try them? You do not mention them in your reply. I am not a doctor, and do not make medical diagnoses. Your symptoms are common with systemic yeast infections, and those may help if that is the case.




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  3. Thank so much for this particular presentation. Your description of the adaptability of bacteria is clear and logical and supported by good science. I have been eating a plant-based diet for years and reaped many benefits. However, I do have a problem with loose bowel movements. Are there any video’s that address this? Several of my friends seem to have similar problems. I wonder if too much fiber can be a problem?




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    1. Plantivoris, I had this problem for years. I finally realized I have a reaction to most lettuces–loose stools. They’re greens. They’re the good guys, so it took me a long time to believe this was the problem. Spinach and Swiss chard are the exception. Maybe you, too, have an unknown allergy or reaction to certain “good” foods. Good luck!




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  4. This adaptability of bacteria seems to me another reason to adopt a whole plant-based diets. As I understand there are proposals to clinically alter gut bacteria so that TMAO is not produced when eating animal products. However, the rapid adaptation of gut flora and mutations I think would quickly negate the clinical treatments. People I think want procedures and pharmocology that would allow them to continue with their bad habits, but seems that is an illusion.




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  5. I’m not crazy about the bright yellow read-along text in your videos. I find it distracting to be listening to Dr Greger while reading what are essentially his same words, at the same time. I’d suggest you avoid the overlap.




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    1. Have u ever heard of closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing? It’s a law, and a small price to pay for the rest of us so these people can have access to the same great information. Or just go with the captions and no voice. We can all read!




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      1. hi Tom Spradley. I dont think Howard Duncan was referring to the closed captioning feature at all. I thought he was referring to the yellow highlighting used in the research papers of the video. I dont find it helpful either actually, nor the faster page flipping. The icons are well done imo.
        The closed captioning on the other hand is helpful to many of us, and easy to stop as well.




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      2. Tom Spradley, Perhaps my comment was poorly expressed. I wasn’t referring to closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing.




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        1. I think the printed words and highlighting reinforces the pertinent verbal points being made. Helps to get the point and remember it.




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    1. hi Joe! It looks to me like quinoi though I might be mistaken. Quinoi would make a great substitution for wheat in tabouli though (for those who are wheat intolerant) dont you think ?
      I suspect that quinoi is shown since it is one of the best sources of choline for vegans. Choline is considered an essential nutrient, and not all that easy to come by for vegans though there are small amounts in a wide variety of vegies. http://veganhealth.org/articles/choline Jack Norris RD gets into a good discussion on what choline does for our health and what the best sources are in whole foods.
      I get a little confused on this issue though since choline is linked to tmao production and negative outcomes in some videos.. I am trusting that if we just stick to plants and avoid meat dairy and eggs, we’re good.




      3
      1. Hi Susan, It looks more to me like cooked bulgar than quinoa, but I would bet either of our lives on it. That said, I imagine that quinoa would make a tasty tabouli. I’ve seen recipes for quinoa tabouli, although, I have never tried making it.

        As far as choline is concerned, I remember that it was difficult to get the RDI of 550 mg for me by eating whole foods, and the only way that I could get close was by including soy lecithin. I finally gave up even trying because I figured that if it was so difficult to to achieve the recommended levels by eating whole foods, that the RDI was set abnormally high.

        I feel vindicated by Dr Greger’s videos outlining how excessive choline intake, at least from animal foods, cause an increase production of TMAO.




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          1. That’s good to know Dfruechtenicht2. Interesting article. Thank you for posting the link.

            I routinely get over 300 mg of choline so it appears that i’m probably okay. One certainly have to eat well over 2000 Calories to hit 550 mg from a whole foods plant based diet.




            0
  6. Great-video as always. These Nutrition-Facts taken together create a giant-step for personal health. For those struggling with loose bowel, getting out into the garden, composting, mulching & getting one’s hands dirty as well as eating food from the same with lightly washed fruits & vegetables is helpful. Instead of toilet-paper learn how to water-wash as do most people in the world, so your bum gets clean without abrasion & chemicals. Separate your urine to nourish your garden perennials & mulch-piles. Develop a fecal & kitchen cutting methanizing compost tank to generate methane gas & ethanol alcohol for all your heating & carburant needs. Eat from deeply rooted Polyculture-Orchard trees & permaculture perennials for richer mineral, vitamin, enzymes & bacteria. Here’s a CEMENT-BOARD-COMPOSTER- for kitchen cuttings which is Rodent-proof, durable for 30+ years. Valorizes all other recyclables clean, odour-free. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/5-cement-board-composters




    1
    1. My kitchen scraps go into an old plastic garbage can with holes in the bottom just sitting in the yard. As long as I don’t cover it….the veggies just decompose without much issue other than fruit flies. When I turn it over to get to the compost (to use in my garden) under the top veggies…it’s a worm farm. In winter the worms go back into the ground.

      If I cover it…it becomes a stinking mess.




      1
      1. Fred. RE “My kitchen scraps go into an old plastic garbage can” Thanks for sharing your valuable experience. Many could use your accessible & easily implementable design with great soil & worm production. Anyone could get their home composting going with your garbage can model in just one afternoon. Easily doable design like your own is the way forward. Nutrition is a full-cycle of what we put into the body, but also what the body puts into the ground & the environment which ends up back into our nose, mouths & skin again. The earth’s biosphere is designed so that as many people as might exist all contribute naturally through our body & kitchen leavings to a rich biosphere production & healthy foods if properly naturally designed.

        Indigene Community’s ‘Cement-board-composter’ is designed with screened aeration of 1/2 inch times 4 feet long on all the 4 vertical corners, which lowers composting smell so neighbours & visitors don’t notice as well as providing oxygen for mostly aerobic composting. Cement-board provides at least 30 year durable rodent-proof (mice, rat, mole, squirrel, groundhog, skunk, raccoon, wolverine & even bear) composting for rural & urban environments.

        The problem with plastic composters, once distributed by municipalities & used extensively here in Montreal is that; squirrels & ground-hogs chew-engineer the plastic making access holes within weeks of installation. The food scraps then become accessible to all other rodents including mice & rats, who may also take up habitation within the nearby composting host’s home or sheds. Most don’t experience rat & mice intrusion into their homes, but humans do have a deep cultural & personal fear-aversion, which must be taken into account & design.

        Cement-board is as cheap in price & building tools to use as wood but lasts over ten times longer through winter & summer. Indigene Community’s Cement-board composter is only 2 x 2 feet on the ground = 4 square feet footprint (4 feet high) so it can be placed in alleys, even on-top of asphalt or cement surfaces, on roof-tops, garage-tops etc in small spaces, just with some surface interface (such as a plastic sheet or tree with a 6 inch layer of fall-leaves to absorb moisture). Our present CB model is 7 years old with no degradation. Our Cement-board composter is designed with aeration to keep out rodents. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/5-cement-board-composters




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  7. This research paper was brought up in a recent YouTube debate between a vegan and omnivore. At the end of the paper, it indicates that the study was designed by Timothy J Key who is a member of the Vegetarian Society of the UK and also the Vegan Society. I am just curious if there are any obvious flaws in the results that indicate that overall mortality is comparable for the various diets studied. Approximately 10% of the 20,324 vegetarians were vegan.




    2
  8. I went plant based last October-November 2016 and have almost no processed foods – both my husband and I follow this together. He feels great and has lost 30 pounds. I on the other side struggle not to gain anymore weight, am constantly exhausted. I’m also battling recurrent yeast infections, worse than ever before (I have been for 10 +years fighting them on a regular basis). I’m trying to find a solution to my “problems” as going plant based has made me feel horrible. I’m thinking its my gut flora, but I’m stumped as how to resolve it if going plant based is the solution. I eat a variety of foods, including brown rice, lots of greens, beans of all kinds, vegetables and keep my fruit servings to 1-3 per day at the very most. My family doctor who is pro plant based has suggested eating meat again, as well as others I’ve consulted. I agree, it will probably fix my issues and allow me to loose weight…but I don’t want to go that way! I feel so lost and not sure were to get resources to help me. Tks




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    1. Sandi, Plant-based whole foods involve many 10s of 1000s of choices. One guide in understanding protein or amino-acid absorption is to start with consideration of the foods, which the animals, whose bodies you are eating, ate. Most animals, which westerners are eating, are eating plant-based foods. Grass, as in grass-fed beef, is chlorophyll rich, an important source of minerals, vitamins, enzymes & proteins. Seaweed which fish are eating is rich in a whole range of essential-fatty-acids, proteins, minerals etc. Most of these nutrients are lost in domestically raised & industrial processed meats. Start your analysis with this dynamic & then learn plant-source equivalences.
      Most animals are not free to browse on what they know would be good for them & are feed-lot imprisoned, so your body becomes nutritionally deprived on meat as well. Read from vegan-vegetarian authors.
      Take some ‘wild-foods’ into your diet as often grow as weeds outside your door as they are perennial, deeply rooted, full of minerals, vitamins, enzymes etc.

      Another guide is to seek out cultural grocery stores to find out about diet which they carry from their homelands. Most often cultural foods are much higher in vegetarian or vegan food. Traditional cultures as well ferment, sprout or prepare foods so as to increase bio-availability of all nutrients. If you study nutritional analysis for proteins, complex carbohydrates, fibre, minerals, vitamins, enzymes etc., you will find that the great majority of nutritional scientists credit traditional cultural plants & foods as well as wild plants as having 10s to 1000s of times more the essential nutrients required for optimal health than today’s 2-D industrial ‘agriculture’. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/responsable-health




      1
    2. Hi Sandi. I had a similar problem a few years ago. I took a digestive enzyme supplement that contained a variety of enzymes for about 2 weeks, and concurrently a multi probiotic, which I continued for an additional 2 weeks. I actually took less than the manufacturers’ recommended dosages, but still had good results. Since then, my wfpb diet seems to keep things under control, especially if I base one meal a day on a giant salad bowl. Maybe this would work for you too. Good luck.




      4
      1. Hi Donna

        Thanks for the info. Can you share what enzyme you took exactly. I want yo stay plant based, actually I plan to. I just want yo resolve theses issues….6+months is way too long




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    3. I think that “eat meat” is the catchall retort when a vegan diet doesn’t cure all your issues, when there may be many other factors! For me a huge help has been adding fermented foods to my diet, and totally eliminating any added oil. You can make ferments safely and easily at home, or buy them in the refrigerated section of your grocery, but it has to be fresh. I enjoy making it because I can keep the sodium lower, but it is also easy, cheap, and I love playing mad scientist in the kitchen and watching and experiencing the benefits of the magic transformation. I found probiotics to be very unreliable and very pricey with a limited variety of organisms and little to no benefits. Eating the food with the pre and probiotic elements and a wider array of beneficial organisms has been infinity more beneficial. Here is a great website for anyone interested in getting started, be sure to watch her “my story” video on the right side of the page. https://www.culturedfoodlife.com/




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    4. To Sandi
      Check your bathing soap.You could be killing your good bacteria that fights the yeast. Try using the Zum soaps especiall the frankinsence variety in your case. Comes in bar & liquid. I use these soaps both in laundry & bathing & in the kitchen, Hope this helps!




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  9. I’ve been plant based for almost 4 years now. But my cholesterol is at 263 and my fasting sugar is right at the border line. Do I go on a statin? I would rather not




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    1. Jerry, I went plant based in June 2014, following Dr. Greger and Dr. Esselstyn because I have a partially blocked carotid artery. My lipid profile after one year was a disappointment. Cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL all increased!
      I became more diligent by limiting my grains to oatmeal, limiting fruit intake to berries with occasional other fruits, lots of greens, beans, veggies. Very occasional pasta, bread, sugar. No oil.
      In May, my lipids were down but not ideal. It took Pritikin 3 years to get his cholesterol down.
      I’m hanging in and determined. I have a family history of extreme high cholesterol with multiple heart attacks. My father died of a heart attack at 49 many years ago. I am also determined not to resort to statins as some of my family members have done.




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  10. This is all misleading. There is no evidence that eating meat or diary affect our microbiota. Plenty of cultures eat them and live long and healthy. You are confused with meat eaters who eat processed foods. Vegans who eat processed and junk foods have the same problems.




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    1. Jerry Lewis – Let me suggest you read “10% Human” by Alanna Collen, Ph.D. She (among others) has thoroughly studied this subject of the microbiome and presents her findings in her book. There is a very significant amount of scientific information on this subject that is complex, important, and above all very interesting. And there also remains many, many unanswered questions at this point in time. But the picture is unfolding.

      For anyone else who is interested in this book, Caldwell Esselstyne, M.D. has recommended this book for those with gut issues.
      https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062345981/10-human

      Thank you.




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  11. Hi everyone at NutritionFacts! Firstly thank you so much for the work you do to present unbiased nutrition truth. It’s an invaluable resource, and I appreciate it a lot. I had a question I was hoping someone could help with. I have secondary amenorrhea. I’ve eaten a plant based diet for over 4 years, vegetarian for a decade prior to that. I had my period all my years as a vegetarian but many of those I was on hormonal bc. I lost my period first two years ago after a bout of overexercise coupled with probably low overall calorie intake and definitely very very low fat intake. I regained my period for about two or three months this time last year after traveling, eating oily street food, etc, but have not had a period now in over a year. I recognize that for most of this past year I’ve had a fixation on calories and absolutely caused this problem to myself. I am eager to get healthy now, and bring back my period for good. I know upping my calories as well as my fat, and drastically decreasing rigorous exercise, or stopping altogether to be good places to start but I do want to maintain my overall healthy eating patterns while balancing my hormones. Are there any pieces of advice you could present in terms of regaining a lost period while sticking to a “how not to die” eating pattern. I don’t want to binge on too much fat if it makes me feel ill or impairs my blood flow etc. Would a focus on plenty of calories with a “normal” amount of fat intake be sufficient, or would fat % I eat need to dramatically increase as well? I want to remain fit, fairly lean and healthy while ensuring I feed my body what it needs to recover. I know every body is different and there’s no true way for you all to advise me without other medical and personal details but any tips or tricks would be so appreciated. Thanks a ton!




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    1. Hello Lex,
      Thank you for your question. I am a family physician with a private practice in lifestyle medicine, and also a volunteer moderator for this website. “Secondary amenorrhea”, for those readers who don’t know what that is, means missing your menstrual period for 3+ months after having been menstruating normally before that, and of course not being pregnant or lactating or taking hormones or being in menopause. A common cause of secondary amenorrhea is having your body fat drop below a certain level — often due to over-exercise (is common in athletes) and/or too low calorie/fat intake.

      So, it sounds like you understand all this fairly well. My quick answer is that you should absolutely be able to stick to whole foods plant-based (WFPB) nutrition, AND take in enough calories and fat to regain normal menstruation. However, you can’t try to adhere to an extremely low fat version of a WFPB diet — such as that advocated by people like Dr. Esselstyn or Dr. Fuhrman who are gearing their advice to people with problems like severe coronary artery disease, or diabetes. It has been pretty well established in the medical literature that there is a minimum body fat below which ovulation is problematic (see articles by Rose Frisch, such as: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2282736).

      So, I would advise you to be sure to eat enough “healthy fats” such as nuts, seeds, flax-seed oil, olives or olive oil, etc. I cannot guess what “enough” means in your particular case. Good luck! I hope this helps.

      Dr. Jon
      PhysicianAssistedWellness.com




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      1. Much appreciated Dr. Jon. Looks like I’m taking the steps necessary and will just need to let go and be patient. I really appreciate you taking time to respond




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  12. As always excellent information. Our bodies are the most amazing, adaptable vessels on the planet. This really goes for all living beings. Thank you Charles Darwin!




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    1. Hi John,

      I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thanks so much for your question.

      Although I don’t believe any studies have specifically looked at this, vegans that take a carnitine supplement may be less detrimental than those who eat higher quantities of animal products. However, the gut microbiome could be altered after consistent use of carnitine supplementation to become more like that of those consuming more animal products. Since carnitine does not have any beneficial health effects (aside from those who have rare genetic disorders or are taking certain medications), the potential drawbacks would seem to outweigh any potential benefits.

      I hope this helps to answer your question.




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      1. What about carnitine and acetyl-choline supplements for cognitive function? My son’s ADHD has improved with these supplements. Are there any studies looking at plant-based choline sources for supplements such as lecithin? I wonder if consuming these supplements on occasion would have the same effect on the microbiome as eating meat/eggs once in a while per the video.




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          1. As one of the moderators for NutritionFacts.org, I wanted to respond to your question on supplements for ADHD. This website does not recommend specific brands or even specific supplements (other than Vit B12, and D) Please see these videos:

            https://nutritionfacts.org/video/treating-adhd-without-stimulants/ https://nutritionfacts.org/video/treating-adhd-without-stimulants/ that refer to ADHD if you haven’t seen them already. I am glad you are aware of the benefits of a whole food plant based diet recognizing how challenging it is for you working with a ADHD condition. Best of health to you and your family, Joan-NurseEducator




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  13. Hello,

    I noticed you’ve talked extensively in other videos that dairy, in particular milk, isn’t as beneficial as it claims and can distort the good gut bacteria.

    I want to know if yogurt and kefir are beneficial to the gut floral? Or are there any studies done regarding regular consumption of yogurt and kefir, to general health?

    Thanks!




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    1. Thanks for your question Cindy,

      According to the latest non-dairy industry funded 2017 review:

      “Analyses of the GI microbial community composition and diversity revealed no significant changes during consumption of yogurt. Regular monitoring indicated that yogurt intake appeared to have an effect on Lactobacilli. The high dose of yogurt appeared to slightly increase microbial diversity in some individuals. However, more research is needed to determine if dietary yogurt intake could have an effect on GI microbial community structure and diversity.”

      Kefir also appears to have some beneficial effects (see here).

      However, non-dairy based probiotics are also great for our intestines (see here) and on top of that are better for the environment and help reduce the unethical farming in the dairy industry.

      Hope this answer helps.
      Hope this answer helps.




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    2. Hi Cindy,

      I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thanks so much for your question–it is a good one.

      Research has shown that consumption of fermented dairy products may be beneficial to gut bacteria. However, since food is a package deal, we can not forget about the hormones, animal protein, cholesterol, and possible antibiotics that dairy also contains. Since plant foods can improve our gut flora without adverse effects on our health, plants seem to be the optimal foods to improve our gut bacteria, while having positive “side effects.”

      So in conclusion, would kefir or yogurt be better than milk or cheese? Yes. But none of these dairy foods would be as health-promoting as plant foods, especially fruits and vegetables.

      I hope this helps to answer your question!




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  14. I really want to watch the new TV show ‘Big Fat Truth’ that Dr G is on! But alas… I don’t have any type of pay TV service. If I can’t find the episodes online to stream or D/L I’m screwed. Seems many people are in the same boat. I’m reading all over the net people don’t have access to watch it anywhere. So will somebody please be nice and record the episodes and post them on youtube? Or post a link to someplace we can watch it on the net for free? The Znetwork site seems like its not going to stream or post the show. That’s a bummer, another case of having a hard time getting the plant based word out and this show seems to be following suit… Great show… no one can watch. lame…




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  15. Hi there, does anybody have non antibiotic ideas for treating a bladder infection? Happy to spend considerable money on dmannose/probiotics supplements etc if you think they work….And at what point to give in and take antibiotics? Thanks!




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    1. Cranberry juice! Pure, 100 percent …..Tart cranberry juice. It interferes with the bacteria sticking to the cell walls. On a personal note, I’ve consumed an entire bottle over the course of the day with zero symptoms the next day. This is not medical advice. I am simply sharing my experience.
      Good luck!




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  16. change your bathing soap. I have had no more bladder infections since doing that. Try a “pure” soap like the Zum soaps. Yes, they are excellent!




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  17. Hello Helena and Deborah,
    Thank you for your question, and comment. I am a family physician with a private practice in lifestyle medicine, and also a volunteer moderator for this website. Dr. Greger has done an excellent video on the subject of cranberry juice and bladder infections:
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/can-cranberry-juice-treat-bladder-infections/

    The evidence he presents shows that cranberry juice (and Deborah is correct that pure fresh cranberry juice seems to be the most effective) is effective in preventing bladder infections, because it inhibits the “stickiness” of pathogenic E. coli. In terms of TREATING existing infections, though, cranberry juice seems to be no more effective than placebo. However, Dr. G. also points out that placebo — i.e. doing nothing, works fairly well, because your body will usually fight off the infection by doing nothing. So, my advice to patients is something like this (caveat here is that every situation is a little different, and I cannot give you good advice without seeing you in person):
    A) To prevent bladder infections: don’t eat poultry products (which harbor E. coli) as Dr. G. mentions, and drink lots of water, cranberry juice optional;
    B) If you feel a bladder infection coming on — i.e. that first twinge of discomfort or burning with urination: drink lots of water AND cranberry juice;
    C) If you have a full-blown bladder infection — i.e. pain/burning with every urination — but symptoms aren’t too severe: same as B, but consider also taking phenazopyridine for pain relief (trade name Pyridium, also sold OTC as “Azo Urinary Pain Relief”, at dose of 100 to 200 mg 3x/d for 5-6 doses), AND consider an antibiotic. (Pyridium is the drug that turns your urine bright orange).
    D) If you have a severe bladder infection with bad pain (often with blood in urine), probably should take an antibiotic plus phenazopyridine.

    I hope this helps.
    Dr.Jon
    PhysicianAssistedWellness.com




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  18. This video raises a question about being able to absorb nutrients dependent on what gut bacteria exists. I want to eat a variety of 15 grains – to get the most from a variety of what nature has to offer. What is the most nutritious way to rotate my grains? Do I need to eat one grain for 5 or 10 days to make sure that my body has the receptors – the bacteria – to incorporate the nutrients into my body, or is it better to rotate them sequentially, one portion at a time to get the maximum update of nutrients?




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    1. The best relief for bladder infections, one that two men I know have had problems with because of their enlarged prostates not allowing fully emptying their bladders, is the following. It works a lot faster and better than cranberry juice:

      Buy a jar of d mannose powder. It’s kind of expensive, but it’s worth it.
      Take 1 teaspoon daily in water for prevention and take it several times daily if you have an infection. It tastes slightly sweet, not bad at all.

      D mannose is the sugar that lines the urinary tract. When the bacteria find it in the urine they think it’s Thanksgiving dinner, jump off the walls of the urinary tract, and get magically flushed away.

      D mannose is what is in cranberry juice, but taking it this way gives you a much greater concentration.

      I hope this helps. One doctor had one of these men on Cipro (yikes!) for three months because of UTIs, even though there were no bacteria in the cultured urine. In the case of both men, once they finally began the d mannose, and kept it up, they have not been plagued with UTIs.




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  19. Hi Dr,
    My name is Mandy and I am writing on behalf of my mum Jada. Mum started the “how not to die” diet in February 2017 and she found that her pain was becoming more intense and her health deteriorating, so then mum completely stopped eating for three days and just drank water, and it was amazing but 50% of her pain got better, she then started doing some research and learnt that Lectin is a big cause of her problems, so she’s trying to eliminate lectin also from her diet, the only problem with a lectin free diet is that there is very little she can now eat and we are struggling to find meals she can eat that are both meat and lectin free. Do you have anything you can suggest please? Thank you




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