I am loving all this new research into the body and the microbiome that lives on and in us. We have better techniques to discover all the microbes—bacteria, fungi, viruses—that live in our gut. You can’t digest your food without their help, and they will reward you with making good chemicals that help your body live better. Win-win!
They recently did a study in mice, where they did fecal transplants (poor mice!) from humans who were diagnosed with depression to the mice. Shortly after the transplants, which changed the mouse gut microbiome to the human one, the mice started showing signs of depression. They also did a study on college students who were feeling “down” but not clinically depressed and had them eat a high fiber, high vegetable diet (no pizza, beer, etc.) and after 3 weeks they felt normal again. They then had them go back to their normal diet, and they went back to feeling sad after a few weeks again.
We are also seeing reports that patients with Parkinson’s disease and those with Alzheimer dementia have different gut bacteria than their age matched peers without those diseases. If dementia runs in your family, you should read The End of Alzheimer’s by Dale Bredesen. He addresses diet and many other factors that can lead to dementia.
Lots of people ask me about probiotics and what is a good one to take? Honestly, I am not a fan of probiotics. A few early studies show that people who take probiotics end up having a less diverse microbiome. Diversity is what is needed to keep your body running at its best. Guess what gives you the most diverse gut microbes? A varied diet of different plant fibers—lots of different vegetables! In the book The Story of the Human Body by Daniel Lieberman, he notes that by doing studies on ancestral humans’ feces, it appears that our bodies evolved on a fiber diet of about 100 grams a day. The average American gets about 10-12 grams a day. Wow!