- How your gut is linked to these serious illnesses
- When your microbiome becomes poisonous
- Do you need a poo transplant?
Last week I confessed that I’d not been feeling great during this last lockdown.
I’d been overeating comfort foods out of anxiety and boredom, to the point where I really piled on the pounds.
My stomach began to ache all the time and I felt pretty miserable in my head too.
If you missed it, you can read that post on the Good Life Letter website here The Confessions of a Failed Health Writer.
Anyway, thanks to everyone who wrote in with such kind words – I really do appreciate it!
I was worried that you’d unsubscribe, thinking, “That Ray Collins bloke can’t even follow his OWN advice!”
But instead, I received some wonderful emails from people who’ve had similar lockdown problems.
“That is exactly my experience of lockdown belly,” said one reader.
“I bet you’ve had lots of ‘me too’s after that!” said another.
And one reader said: “Lovely to know you are a real human being with all the imperfections that most of us face and with many problems that need sorting out from time to time.”
Well, that’s very true. Lara will testify to my many imperfections!
Like I say, I’ve never claimed to be some grinning super-fit guru or a holier-than-thou healthy eating evangelist.
I’m just an ordinary guy (well, as ordinary as writers can be!) trying to find out what’s what in the confusing, conflicting and downright frustrating world of health advice.
And to all those who asked – yes, I feel a lot better now that I’ve got back on track, and I hope you’re coping alright with this mad, mad world too.
What was most interesting about my experience was the way that my mood, poor diet and stomach pain were so closely interlinked.
It took weeks of eating plenty of fruit, veg, roughage and general good behaviour for the belly pain to go. And as it did, so my stress lowered and my mood lifted.
It’s an anecdotal example of something that scientists are beginning to take very seriously indeed.
How our gut microbiome is linked to major illnesses
A good balance of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa in your gut is absolutely key if you want less inflammation and pain, along with better brain health.
Researchers have linked disturbances in your microbial inner life to a major depressive disorder (MDD).
In February this year, American researchers found a link between a dysfunctional microbiome and Alzheimer’s.
Meanwhile, back in 2020, a study called ‘The Influence of the Gut Microbiome on Obesity in Adults’ showed that “the gut microbiome has an impact on nutrient metabolism and energy expenditure.”
Other studies are beginning to indicate links to inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
I wrote about other health conditions linked to problems in the gut a few weeks ago – here.
Recently I read a fascinating article in The Times.
It was all about a pioneering approach where, instead of using traditional drugs to tackle illness, scientists are trying to target the bacteria, viruses and fungi that are inside our guts.
In other words, they want to treat the MICROBIOME in order to tackle serious illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and bowel disease.
Scientists now believe that dodgy bacteria in your gut release toxins into your bloodstream that provoke strong autoimmune response and rampant inflammation.
In other words…
Your microbiome becomes poisonous!
So one way to tackle this is to analyse the microbiome, see what’s causing these effects and attempt to switch it off at the source.
Leading the charge is Johannes Hov from Norway, who specialises in primary sclerosing cholangitis (try saying THAT quickly) – an inflammatory disease that blocks bile ducts and destroys the liver.
“In PSC, gut inflammation and liver disease are strongly linked. Some 80 per cent of patients have inflammatory bowel disease,” he told The Times.
He has started scanning these patients’ blood for genes and chemicals emitted by gut bacteria, which might be causing this damaging immune response.
All sounds good doesn’t it?
However, I’ll warn you, the pioneering treatment for this problem might make you go “eeeeewwww”.
You see, the simplest method of rebalancing the microbiome is to take a stool sample from a healthy person and put it inside a patient with an imbalanced microbiome.
In other words…
A poo transplant!
In a Dutch experiment, this process successfully altered the way that two overweight people regulated their blood sugar. So there are encouraging signs – although it is early days.
More tastefully, they’re also trialling probiotic supplements that contain healthy microbes as an oral medicine.
One pilot has had encouraging results using this process with patients who have cardiovascular disease.
I’ll keep you informed of any further reading I do on this, but in the meantime, you could try our recommended microbiome support formula, made by Together and available from our online shop.
It’s made from 45 farm-grown fruits and vegetables, fermented in a symbiotic co-culture of 11 strains of live bacteria, yeasts, and acetic acid bacteria.
When this multibiotic enters your digestive system, it encourages the rapid growth of hundreds of substrains of friendly bacteria.
For more information, take a look at our webpage here: Microbiome Support.
I hope you have a great weekend!