3 new strategies for obesity: Part 2 your Microbe friends


Circadian rhythm, microbes and micronutrients…

Continuing the saga of obesity affecting every species everywhere; and of three novel strategies to try for those who’ve tried everything. 

Millions of Microbes and Me

So its common knowledge now that we’re mostly bugs. Bugs are teeming on our skin, mouths, guts….(just eww!); even our DNA is overwritten by bugs. And now we know that many bugs are friendly, helpful, even essential. But that subtle distinction was not ‘a thing’ back then (the 1800s), when Dr Semmelweis was mocked for washing his hands before surgery. OK yes, be picky, hygiene (good sanitation, clean water, hand washing, refrigeration and all that) saved millions of lives and was voted ‘best contributor to longevity’ for the entire 20th century.

But as we enthusiastically ‘slashed and burned’ germs, we also annihilated our allies as collateral damage (‘friendly fire’). Louis Pasteur invented pasteurisation to halt the ruin and heartbreak when ‘bad bugs’ wiped out the entire year’s production of (fermented) wine or cheese for French families.

Fear of dirt and germs is now pervasive. Anxious patients pester doctors to overprescribe antibiotics. Antiseptics, pesticides, fungicides, wipes, alcohol and chlorine…there must be a more nuanced choice than either die of dysentery or nuke all the water in the ecosystem? But medical prescriptions pale into insignificance compared to massive, blanket use of antibiotics in animal feed, ostensibly solely a preventive health measure but it doesn’t hurt that it results in animals…wait for it. gaining weight. I mean, they know this. Obese people have a different, much less diverse, microbiome. Diabetics have a less diverse microbiome. Cancer patients have a less diverse microbiome….and research on this whole area is in its infancy.

So what should we do? The general advice is to take a variety of live probiotics, live fermented foods, eat a variety of pre-biotics (soluble fibre, resistant starch things with odd names like FOS and inulin) and get down and dirty gardening in healthy soil. Don’t eat things that indiscriminately kill bugs (antibiotics, or food stuffed with antibiotics, fungicides or pesticides) and don’t eat a lot of stuff that bad bugs thrive on (sugar, refined flour). Our ancestors ate much more diverse vegetation than we do, including bark, roots, seaweeds, flowers and even insects, and this variety feeds a diverse range of bugs. Take it very slowly, so you don’t pop from gaseous explosions, and its recommended you start with a course in probiotics to set you up for a healthy ‘garden’ down there.

Fermenting bacteria grow naturally (you make sauerkraut from the microbes naturally on the cabbage; you can ‘catch’ sourdough starter from spores in the air). So raw food you eat out of your (unsprayed) garden (salad) has a diversity of environmental soil and air bugs. Of course you can also die from bugs, even from potting mix, so caveat emptor, or whatever is the medical equivalent. If you start to get sick hightail it to a doctor.

So there you have it – two strategies so far: reset your circadian rhythm, and grow and feed a diverse microbiome.  Jaminet concludes his top three list  with ….ta dum, drum roll please… optimising micronutrients per calorie, for which you will have to wait until the next exciting post. Until then, live long, stay grubby and prosper!


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