Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
23 Apr

7 Things You Had No Idea Gut Bacteria Could Do

BacteriaIf you’re a regular Mark’s Daily Apple reader, you probably have at least a generally accurate if somewhat vague notion of the important functions performed by our gut bacteria. They’re a “big part” of our immune systems. They “improve digestion” and “eat the fibers and resistant starches” that our host enzymes cannot digest. Yeah, gut bacteria are hot right now. Everyone’s talking about them. And, since our host cells are famously outnumbered by our gut bacteria, 10 to 1, we need to be apprised of all that they do.

We don’t know everything yet – and we probably never will – but here are some of the most interesting and unexpected functions of our gut bacteria:

They learn from each other.

Bacteria are simple, straightforward organisms. They don’t have all the hangups that we mammals do, all the middle men and physiological bureaucracy between “us” and outside information. Bacteria can directly exchange genetic material – defense mechanisms, enzymatic functions, and other characteristics – from other bacteria they come into contact with in the gut. They’re very quick learners operating on an entirely different time scale.

One example: in most Japanese people, certain strains of gut bacteria have picked up the genes for seaweed digestion from the bacteria found on seaweed. The seaweed bacteria itself didn’t colonize the Japanese guts; only the genetic material transferred. Other groups whose gut bacteria weren’t exposed to the seaweed-digesting strains and never picked up the relevant genes have more trouble digesting the seaweed polysaccharides.

They improve our bone mineral density.

Feeding fermentable fibers to our gut bacteria isn’t just about the short chain fatty acids they produce in response. It’s also about the improved bone health, which occurs through numerous gut bacteria-mediated mechanisms: “increased solubility and absorption of minerals because of increased bacterial production of short-chain fatty acids from prebiotic fermentation; the enlargement of the absorption surface by lactate and butyrate; increased expression of calcium-binding proteins; improvement of gut health; degradation of mineral complexing phytic acid; release of bone-modulating factors such as phytoestrogens from foods; stabilization of the intestinal flora and ecology, also in the presence of antibiotics; stabilization of the intestinal mucus; and impact of modulating growth factors such as polyamines.”

They nullify anti-nutrients.

Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient found in seeds, grains, legumes, nuts, and many other foods. It binds to and prevents the absorption of various minerals, and high phytic acid diets have the potential to cause nutrient deficiencies. Unless you have the right gut flora.

Certain gut flora can actually turn phytic acid into inositol, preventing mineral-binding and releasing a nutrient involved in mood regulation and insulin sensitivity. The more phytate-rich foods you eat, the better your gut bacteria get at breaking it down (they learn, remember?).

There’s also evidence that the right gut flora can reduce the allergenicity of gluten and dairy proteins.

They manufacture vitamins.

When gut bacteria consume substrates, they produce various metabolites, the most famous of which are the short chain fatty acids butyrate, acetate, and propionate. But they also produce vitamins in the process, particularly vitamin K and the B-vitamins. According to Dr. Art Ayers, an optimally-outfitted human gut biome given sufficient dietary substrates can manufacture all the vitamins a person requires.

It seems Vitamin K2, that sweet little variant of vitamin K we love so much, can also be made in the gut. There’s very little direct evidence of this, but broad spectrum antibiotic usage leads to lower levels of vitamin K2 in the human liver. What we do make in the gut can absolutely be absorbed and utilized.

They form a large physical barrier against pathogens.

Bacteria are made of matter, even though they’re invisible to the naked eye. They take up physical space on the gut lining. They plug holes, fill nooks. They cross arms and stand together, steadfast against encroaching pathogens seeking residence. Sheer brute force is one of, if not the most primary immune function of our gut bacteria.

They represent a “second brain.”

The enteric nervous system, found in the gut, has more neurons than the spinal column or central nervous system. Long thought to be only concerned with directing digestive contractions, the enteric nervous system has a direct conduit to the brain: the vagus nerve, 90% of whose fibers are dedicated to communication from the gut to the brain. If you’ve ever gotten butterflies in your stomach from young love or anxiety (or both), or felt like you knew something “in your gut,” that may have been your gut brain relaying the message to your, um, brain brain.

Here’s where the bacteria come in: gut flora produce a ton of neurotransmitters, about 95% of our serotonin and half of our dopamine. Imagine if those voices in our head that seem to originate elsewhere are the result of your gut bacteria coming to a consensus position and delivering it via a chemical slurry of neurotransmitter secretions directly up to your brain? After all, the thoughts we have, the desire we feel, and the words we form come from chemical chatter between neurons. It’s possible that the brain can’t tell where the chatter originates, from “us” or the gut flora. Is there even an “us”? Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe “us” is closer to the truth than “me.”

They can make us depressed, anxious, obsessive-compulsive, and even autistic.

Researchers have long noticed that people with disorders “of the mind,” like depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and autism, tend to also have gastrointestinal issues. It’s becoming clear that these aren’t chance correlations. The emergence of the gut-brain axis, the knowledge that gut bacteria manufacture neurotransmitters, and direct clinical evidence (albeit mostly with non-human animals) suggests that the gut bacteria disturbances are mediating the disorders. We see this in:

Gut bacteria help determine the nutrient content of our meals. They mediate our subjective interpretation of everyday life and our interpersonal dealings with others. They’re constantly learning new things and defending us from interlopers and communicating with and perhaps even telling us what to think and how to act. It’s almost overwhelming to even imagine.

Hopefully you’re beginning to understand why the gut biome is shaping up to be the biggest health story of the century and why we ignore it at our peril.

Thanks for reading, everyone. What’s the most surprising thing gut bacteria can do, in your opinion?

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Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I have heard that eating fermented foods can heal Candida and then I heard that it can cause Candida. Does anyone know the truth to this?

    Scott wrote on April 23rd, 2014
    • My understanding is that the fermenting bacteria create an acidic environment that the yeast don’t like.

      Energy! wrote on April 23rd, 2014
    • It depends on your initial gut health. When I first started the Autoimmune protocol (Candida is often present in people who have other autoimmune issues), I still consumed mushrooms, dried fruit, fermented foods and things did not improve. I discovered these triggers and my symptoms have improved drastically. But last week I consumed some home made sauerkraut that was still in my fridge and symptoms got a bit worse again. Not as bad as it did before though!
      For good coverage of the subject, read The Hidden Plague by Tara Grant. It is specifically about HS, but even if you don’t suffer from it like me, it is still very useful since this is a protocol more elaborate than AIP.

      Simone wrote on April 24th, 2014
  2. I have recently started making a conscious effort to enhance gut flora. I include Saurkraut, Kombucha, probiotic supplements and yogurt into the mix and now appears i have oral thrush on my tongue. How could this be if i am supposedly improving my flora?

    Scott wrote on April 23rd, 2014
    • Depending on the gut health you started with in the effort, it could be that yeast-based probiotics and other yeast-based products hurt you by feeding the wrong bacteria. See also my previous comment.

      Simone wrote on April 24th, 2014
      • Now that I think about it: If you increased your egg intake thinking the yolk is a nutritional powerhouse, it could be you increased permeability because of the egg whites. This happened to me and turned mild autoimmune issues into severe issues. I am pretty certain for me it was the egg whites that triggered it, because it was the only thing I changed since it became worse. I now don’t eat any eggs :( only sometimes yolks if I can separate them completely from the whites.

        Simone wrote on April 24th, 2014
      • Simone , What would you do to get the good flora?

        Scott wrote on April 24th, 2014
        • In general I would say: supplement with good pre- and probiotics, but decrease your probiotic food intake. Take L-glutamine supplements and drink lots of high quality bone broth. Supplement with fish oil and eat lots of fatty cold water fish (mackerel, herring, wild salmon). Do not eat any products with yeasts, molds (so no cheese, yoghurt, alcohol, dried fruit, mushrooms, etc.) and DO NOT EAT NIGHTSHADES OR GRAINS. Also, make sure you don’t eat any eggs. You could do yolks, but these are also tricky because even when separated from the whites, there still tend to be some ‘drops’ of whites on the yolk. Apart from the probiotic foods I would say the information on this and other paleo websites paints a nice picture of the do’s and don’ts to increase gut health in severely impaired gut flora (e.g. leafy greens, protein quality)
          But what you would do is very personal. It depends of the severity of your symptoms, your commitment and what you have already figured out about your food/supplement intolerances (I cannot tolerate Vitamine B supplement before 10 AM or probiotic supplement after 9 PM).

          Personally, because of skin issues I also supplement with zinc and Vitamine B and magnesium. Maybe you say manganese in English? I am considering starting calcium and selenium supplementation.
          Make sure you get enough sunlight and eliminate any stress you can. I try to tackle every stress issue separately so I do not need to change everything at once and every time I notice a significant decrease in inflammation in my joints, less bruises and healing more quickly.

          I have been at this pretty strict AIP for 2 months now, and have only started to see skin-related results since 1-2 weeks. My gut area started to feel better after a month. I never knew that was possible, but at some point I noticed the whole digestion process had changed and I also felt more at ease during the day.
          But according to more knowledgeable people (experts and n=1 experimenters), most people notice differences within 1-3 weeks.

          Every 2 weeks I have 1 or 2 days without any supplements. I plan to phase out most of the supplements and I want to start with probiotic foods soon as long as the results keep improving.

          Hope you can work with this… Good luck!

          Simone wrote on April 24th, 2014
  3. Anyone have any good info on alcohol and gut bacteria? is wine, FE, good or evil for a healthy gut? It is after all fermented fruit juice.

    Fredrick Hahn wrote on April 23rd, 2014
    • Most commercial wine has sulfites to kill off yeast and bacteria. Bars use sulfites or Campden tablets to clean the lines so if you are sensitive to tap beer and not bottle beer you may have an issues with sulfite based antibiotics.

      jack lea mason wrote on April 23rd, 2014
      • Is there scientific evidence that sulfites kill gut bacteria?

        Fredrick Hahn wrote on April 24th, 2014
    • The GAPSdiet (dedicated to healing your gut and restoring the microbiom) does allow some dry white or red wine and eve a little bit of spirits like wodka.

      Helene de Winter wrote on April 24th, 2014
  4. There are a few websites I follow daily. This one of course. This site and articles have me always wondering when I read of ailments if gut biology is involved. Another site I read daily posted this: . I wouldn’t be surprised if CFS doesn’t have a component associated to the patients intestinal biome.

    David wrote on April 23rd, 2014
  5. What effect might a colonoscopy have on the gut flora?

    Kristine wrote on April 23rd, 2014
    • I personally have believed there IS an impact, but the National Institutes of Health say there isn’t…take your pick:

      Bear wrote on April 23rd, 2014
    • It wipes it out entirely. Leaves you vulnerable for pathogenic takeover.

      Ellen C wrote on April 24th, 2014
      • Are you saying alcohol wipes out your gut bacteria entirely? Can you cite references for this? If it were true, we’d see a lot of dead young alcoholics but we don’t.

        Fredrick Hahn wrote on April 24th, 2014
        • what?

          Ellen C wrote on April 24th, 2014
    • My understanding is that the colonoscopy prep removes the biofilms so the doc can see the intestinal wall, but many gut bugs are still floating around and/or are in the appendix. Haven’t had one yet, but plan to recover with a variety of prebiotics, probiotics, and fermented foods. If I ever get around to scheduling it, that is. I do want to get one because my grandmother died of colon cancer.

      Energy! wrote on April 24th, 2014
  6. Changing your gut bacteria will be a significant factor in treating mental disorders in the future hopefully as I truly believe that a lot of depression/anxiety/schizophrenia is related to an overload of more pathological bacteria in the gut. Not the only cause mind you but certainly a contributing factor.

    Studies in prisons show inmates behave better when fed a healthier diet and this may be due to the change in balance of their gut flora.

    Bacteria may also be the new mind control though as well as shown by this study from Melbourne –

    Patients who underwent a faecal transplant for gastrointestinal issues actually were more likely to vote for more left wing political parties.

    No Harmacy wrote on April 23rd, 2014
  7. I tried the potato starch in small quantities, and it seemed to disturb my sleep in an unpleasant way. The line between waking and sleeping was blurred, my dreams were dreary, mechanical kinds of things (not vivid, kind of like a dull version of reality) because I was directing them, and I woke up tired after sleeps that would usually have been of sufficient duration. I hesitate to try it any more, despite a large container of potato starch sitting on my shelf. I eat plenty of onion, perhaps I’m overdosing on prebiotics when I add the starch.

    Craig Johnson wrote on April 23rd, 2014
    • Are you taking a SBO (soil based organism) with the starch?

      Ellen C wrote on April 24th, 2014
  8. In terms of gut bacteria forming a “second” brain where brain chatter can be the consensus of many gut bacteria – we have decided that we may agree on this one.

    Storm wrote on April 23rd, 2014
  9. Wonderful post, thank you! I have mood disorders that are difficult to treat – Besides eating fermented foods, is there a way to get more of those specific strains mentioned in point #7, or a fermented food that does such things? Also, what’s a good way to test for all of this? I am still deciding as to whether Genova’s $250 Comprehensible Stool Analysis is worth it… I’d appreciate any replies, this is an important topic to myself as well as everyone :)

    Jason Caridi wrote on April 23rd, 2014
  10. So, the Bible could be a product of bacteria?

    Shawn wrote on April 23rd, 2014
    • Huh?

      Mark S wrote on April 24th, 2014
    • Really? I guess it could.
      Holy sh1t eh.

      Animanarchy wrote on June 12th, 2014
  11. Also, isn’t it true that serotonin and dopamine can’t cross the blood brain barrier? I can see how the gut microbiome could affect depression and anxiety nonetheless due to its ability to drastically turn down inflammation in the body, but I don’t see how the neurotransmitter production could ever have anything to do with it if the neurotransmitters never reach the brain in the first place.

    Alexander Hardy wrote on April 24th, 2014
    • Neurotransmitters are the ‘messengers’ that ‘travel’ through the nervous system. Since there is a neural gut-brain connection in the Nervus Vagus these neurotransmitters can get to the brain….

      Helene de Winter wrote on April 24th, 2014
      • But neurotransmitters don’t do much travelling through neurons- their activity takes place in the form of being released in the synaptic cleft and then being reabsorbed. If you think the neurotransmitters are travelling through the vagus nerve, would you mind giving me a link to a study demonstrating this? I would be very interested in reading it.

        Alexander Hardy wrote on April 30th, 2014
        • Oh dear,
          Alexander you’re absolutely right.
          i’ve been giving a reaction to fast. And gave that reaction from my, apparently rusty, knowledge as the nurse that I was 25 years ago ;-P
          Thanks for the correction.
          Indeed , information travels by electric impulses through the nerves and at the synapses the neurotransmitters play a role in transmitting the impulses on.
          I hope I have not misled too many MDA readers.

          But in answer to your original question: I found this:

          and this:

          See item IX and XI on this page.
          They state that serotonine is formed in the brain out of trytophan which get through the blood/brain barrier with the help of a carrier. Most serotonine however is used in the rest of the body.
          Dopamine is formed from tyrosine which is transported through the blood/brain barrier by the same carrier that transports trytophane.

          You would want to study the second link maybe a bit more. It has tons of information on what the neurotransmitters do and where they do it (brain or somewhere else in the body)

          Helene de Winter wrote on May 1st, 2014
  12. Thanks for the great info Mark. I notice that the GAPS diet (Gut And Psychological Syndrome) is virtually identical to Primal except their insistence that fruit be eaten ripe vs. your suggestion to eat unripened bananas. Since both programs have gut health as a goal, I have to wonder who’s correct?

    Corey B. (Long Beach, CA) wrote on April 24th, 2014
    • The GAPS diet is a diet that has been implemented for over a decade (and is based on an even older diet). It is not about who’s right or wrong. It is virtually the same as primal but Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride started working with this diet long before the gut-brain connection was common knowledge and all these new research coming out. Changes can and have been made as I’ve read in her replies to FAQ on
      She keeps saying to learn to listen to your body because not everybody is the same and reacts the same to foods.
      I’m wondering myself about the resistant starches though. One of the main things on the GAPS diet is the avoidance of starches. The difference might be in the raw/cooled or cooked versions of the starches. I just don’t know if it would be wise for me, being on the GAPS diet, to take resistant starches
      I’ll put this question in these FAQ

      Helene de Winter wrote on April 24th, 2014
  13. Ordinarily, I refer to Mark’s Daily Apple for scientifically supported content about nutrition. I am very saddened to see the sensationalism in today’s title. As a clinical developmental psycholist, there is simply no evidence that gut bacteria causes autism. While gastrointestinal problems often co-occur, they are not present in everyone. Inferring causality from a mouse model does not mean that translates to the human body. Before we go the way of vaccination scares, please temper your arguments.

    Cara wrote on April 24th, 2014
  14. I have huge, huge objections to the pat statement in the post above (and Facebook post) that gut bacteria “make us… autistic.”

    It may be that continued research confirms there is a role for humans, and defines the extent of that role along with all the major cofactors (genetic predisposition, epigenetics, etc.)

    But there’s a huge difference between that mouse model showing reduced symptoms, and you saying that bacteria “make us autistic.”

    Being clear in communications like this is critical because the last thing we need is for laypeople to draw some paranoid, sweeping conclusion that you can CATCH autism from people (or schizophrenia, or other mental illnesses which may be partially linked to viruses or bacteria.)

    I really fear that pop-culture terror, and I don’t think it’s farfetched to think that misleading information will encourage that conclusion.

    Just imagine how it’ll go if people start deciding that some innocent kid in their child’s class is somehow a health threat.

    Jen wrote on April 24th, 2014
    • I don’t understand how you got “autism is contagious” from the article? The seaweed thing? If so, bit of a stretch…

      Simone wrote on April 24th, 2014
      • I don’t think it is; what I’m concerned about is that other people will.

        Don’t you think statements as above that “bacteria make us autistic” could cause people to conclude that “autism is contagious”?

        Jen wrote on April 24th, 2014
        • (And yes, it is a stretch. But no more of a stretch than the initial false statement, if you see what I’m saying….)

          Jen wrote on April 24th, 2014
    • I think she is making a perfectly valid point given lay-person interpretation that bacteria is often bad (and if it’s not, it is “spreadable”). The overall concept is sound. There is a large interpretive leap from mouse models to human genetic/biological composition. If the cause was this simple, we would have a cure. There is absolutely no strong empirical support (e.g., large effect size) for G&C free diets.The interplay is complex – with perhaps a reduction in maladaptive behaviors due to the pain associated with GI distress and the inability to tell others you are in pain. Sweeping statements such as these are misleading.

      Cara wrote on April 24th, 2014
      • Yes they may be misleading but they open the debate for real facts. Look up toxoplasmosis. It is a protozoan infection that has proven to affect behavior.

        Jack Lea Mason wrote on April 24th, 2014
        • Yes, I’m familiar with the concept. I don’t need to look it up. Toxoplasmosis has no relevance to the argument I’m making about using scientifically validated findings in your headline article. Again. There are no scientifically validating findings about toxoplasmosis and autism.

          Cara wrote on April 24th, 2014
  15. I”ve been following the various threads on MDA re resistant starch but haven’t come to grips with the idea that rice (white, brown,…) has such as high glycemic index under normal conditions but then is not digested after being cooled.
    bottom line question: what is the GI of cooled, reheated rice?
    I’d love to eat rice if I knew it was really not an insulin spiker.

    Thanks for any opinions, data on this.

    JimJin NJ wrote on April 24th, 2014
    • From PHD, add vinegar or citrus to the rice and cut the GI in half.

      TR wrote on April 24th, 2014
  16. Anyone have an opinion on gut testing/sequencing services (like 23andme for the gut?)

    Thanks in adavance

    Chris wrote on April 24th, 2014
  17. I agree with the points in this article. See Dr. Mercola’s article, which explains the same things. Moreover, Dr. Mercola gives video instruction on how to ferment your own vegetables. He says that on small serving contains “trillions” of probiotics, which is more than you can get in an entire bottle of (very expensive) probiotics.

    Dr. Mercola’s article contains an interview with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a Neurologist who covers the topic of gut bacteria and its relationship to auto-immune and other disorders. Very interesting!

    Brian wrote on April 24th, 2014
  18. So I have a question. For those that have gone on an elimination diet, who found that during the reintroduction/food challenge phase that their bodies are now reacting to food that they were not before, could this be caused by a change in gut bacteria vs a food intolerance? A friend of mine (veterinarian & behaviorist) and I were discussing this, and the same question had crossed my mind earlier (research psychologist). If so, that would mean you could build back up a tolerance by slowly re-introducing a food you now reacted to that you did not in the past. Of course then comes the question of what was causing leaky gut in the first place. Once healed, I know some food can be reintroduced. But if a food caused leaky gut in the first place, how would one know and avoid said food?

    Kistin wrote on April 24th, 2014
  19. So, on the phytate issue, am I concluding correctly that we should eat phytate rich foods, which are often out on a paleo diet (except nuts) to increase that bacteria? Does anyone knkow yet how long it takes? or if there is too much damage done along the way to make it worth it? It seems it would be valuable to give young children these foods (and possibly at least some gluten and dairy protein) to build up the right bacteria in them.

    Becky wrote on April 24th, 2014
  20. This is exactly what I needed to read. I’ve been concerned about phytic acid lately, but now it seems I can relax a little. I find it fascinating how bacteria can transfer genes. That explains a lot about what causes some people to be sensitive to certain foods while others aren’t.

    Ben wrote on April 24th, 2014
  21. I truly truly believe that the gut is the second brain, which is why I load up on probiotics and digestive enzymes! I have to baby the rest of the gut that I do have (I don’t have a large intestine)

    GiGi wrote on April 24th, 2014
  22. Mark, your post contains several factual errors, which you really should correct for the benefit of your readers, such as:

    1. gut bacteria (better known as sh*t) do NOT constitute a “second brain”

    2. they do NOT produce “tons of neurotransmitters”

    3. the article linked as a supposed reference to these erroneous statements speaks about the enteric nervous system, which indeed is often called “a second brain” and which in fact does produce the neurotransmitters you mention.

    Also, to be well-rounded, your post should at least mention that even the ‘beneficial’ the bacteria in the gut produce various toxins that get absorbed into the bloodstream and must be promptly neutralized by the liver; and if the liver can’t cope with those toxins, for whatever reason, the results range from mild dullness and ‘brain fog’ to delirium and all the way to coma.

    In fact, your confusion of the enteric nervous system with the gut flora suggests that a good purge, to clear the gut from bacteria and its toxic effects on the brain, is in order. Do that and enjoy the clarity of the mind :)

    guest wrote on April 26th, 2014
  23. I do struggle with OCD tendencies. What would be recommended to help the gut biome in relation to OCD?

    Barb wrote on April 26th, 2014
    • OCD can be the result of mineral deficiencies such as zinc & magnesium. If supplementing with zinc & magnesium, it is always a good idea to also take a multivitamin & mineral with them to provide the co-factors to help with their absorption & to not to deplete other competing minerals. However, correcting the gut biome would help you to absorb the minerals better from your food.

      Christine wrote on April 27th, 2014
      • I’m still very young, so I’m reluctant to rely on supplements and want to try and get most of nutrition from food if I can. What are good sources of zinc & mg? I know shellfish is a good source of zinc, if I’m not mistaken.

        Barb wrote on April 27th, 2014
        • That’s very wise. Below is a link to some very good information about zinc, which lists the amount of zinc in foods and explains how certain circumstances may increase your requirements for zinc e.g. infections, stress etc and how gastrointestinal problems can impair the ability to absorb zinc from foods. For example, more than half of people with an inflammatory bowel disorder called Crohn’s disease have evidence of zinc deficiency.

          Here also is the link about magnesium

          Christine wrote on April 27th, 2014
      • Hmm, it seems after beef & lamb, seeds like sesame and pumpkin are the highest in zinc and magnesium, but should I be careful to consume seeds in moderation due to omega 6 and phytic acid? Beef is quite expensive for me, and seeds would be easier…

        Barb wrote on April 27th, 2014
        • Well yes you would need to be careful due to omega 6 & phytic acid. You could try to balance out the omega 6 with lots of omega 3 from fish & grass fed meat or chia seeds or flax seeds. We do probably need more omega 6 than 3 & most experts agree that the omega 6:3 ratio should range from 1:1 to 5:1. However, most people eat between 20 to 50:1 which is why it is recommended to keep the omega 6 down & increase the omega 3. So it is important to get the ratio between the 2 right, but equally important, is not to have too much of either of them. Pumpkin & sesame seeds do actually contain a little omega 3, but it has to be changed by the body into a more usable form & they do contain a lot more omega 6 than 3.

          To reduce the negative effects of phytic acid, it would be best to soak or sprout them first.

          Pumpkin seeds are actually a very healthy food (One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium & one ounce contains more than 2 mg of zinc.) They also contain trytophan to help with sleep.

          However, I believe it is best to eat a large variety of foods & everything in moderation, so if you could include lots of the ‘good’ sources of zinc & magnesium (see the 2nd chart) that should help. There are lots of vegetables listed.

          Another thing which would help, would be to optimise the gut bacteria, so that you actually digest everything you eat. Gut bacteria should help with the phytic acid as well.

          Also, try to keep your stress levels down, as stress dramatically increases your requirement for zinc. This includes getting adequate sleep, as lack of sleep puts a stress on the body.

          Christine wrote on April 28th, 2014
  24. Down here in Australia our family subscribe to a PB diet having followed a ‘failsafe’ approach to our eating for a number of years. Check out the testimonials at

    philip wrote on April 27th, 2014
  25. I’ve had digestive issues along with terrible anxiety. Endoscopy revealed, ulcer, hiatal hernia, and gastritis, so I was prescribed Prilosec. I still feel nauseous all day and have stomach pain. My question is: Is should I be taking the inositol powder? I had quit because I thought it was making my diarrhea worse. I also have diverticulosis.

    Rita wrote on April 28th, 2014
  26. Fascinating stuff.
    I want to know all about how gut bacteria affects the mind. Since I started learning about it and read that we can actually get some bacteria in our brain that kind of controls us (like toxoplasma gondii) my interest in the human microbiome has greatly increased.
    I support the hypothesis that our gut is kind of like a second brain. Sometimes I get “gut feelings” that seem like dire warnings from some ESP source or certain bits of undeniable information and if I ignore them or shrug them off as temporary anxiety bad things tend to happen. Other times I get seemingly random urges or notions that when followed really help me out.

    Animanarchy wrote on June 12th, 2014
  27. Speaking of gut health, how do you feel about digestive enzyme supplentation, Mark? Helpful ? Harmful? Types n amounts ? Thanks !

    Lisa wrote on June 27th, 2014
  28. “They nullify anti-nutrients.” … wait… if the minerals that are being made inaccessible by phytic acid are being (or not being) absorbed in stomach, then how do the gut bacteria help, when they’re further in the wagon?

    kravinec wrote on July 25th, 2014
  29. Hi,
    You mention that the gut bacterial manufacture the neurotransmitters and link to an article that talks about how the Gut Brain produces them. From my research I find that the Enteric Nervous System’s neurons produce the neurotransmitters, and the gut bacteria produce several B vitamins, Vitamin K, Pantothenic acid, several enzymes, etc.. but I can’t find where they actually produce neurotransmitters. Although it is confusing because many of the articles I have found become vague when discussing “gut health”.. I’m understanding that there are 2 parts. The Enteric nervous system made of nerves, neurons, all that physical stuff similar to the Central nervous system – and then there is the whole colony of bacteria that work along with and help the nervous system, along with the rest of our systems to be healthy.

    Let me know if you have found any articles more specific.

    Love gut health! I’m speaking about it tomorrow and found your site doing research for my talk.


    Evelyn wrote on June 5th, 2015

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