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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 08, 2010

Monday Musings: Poop Transplants, Sleep Deprivation and Going Nuts

By Mark Sisson
51 Comments

And now for another round of Monday Musings…

Let’s Talk Sh**

Poop is the new probiotic. Doctors have been using fecal transplants as a “last resort,” mostly to treat the rising scourge of Clostridium difficile, a gut bug that affects about 250,000 Americans every year and proves extremely resistant to antibiotics. Shooting a fecal extract from healthy people into the C. diff-ridden colons of the affected has a 95% success rate. Some docs are pushing for the last resort to be the go-to move. I can’t argue with that.

But gut health isn’t just about acute infection. It’s also about basic metabolic health. A study showed that sterile mice receiving a fecal transplant from obese mice gained more weight than sterile mice who received transplants from lean mice. And most recently, a Dutch pilot study gave 18 obese males with pronounced metabolic syndrome fecal transplants from lean individuals. They did not lose weight, but they did experience improved insulin sensitivity and triglyceride numbers. These improvements reverted after about 12 weeks.

It’s interesting, but I’m not surprised the changes were underwhelming and temporary. As we all know, you have to support a healthy flora population. You have to eat a healthy diet, avoid crappy food, and provide “food” for the bacteria. Were these Dutch guys eating prebiotics? Or were they keeping with the same inflammatory diet that got them into this mess?

Sleep Deprivation and Neural Gene Expression

Lack of sleep hits you pretty hard. It clouds your mind, sours your mood, and can even put you at a higher risk for chronic disease and early mortality. But these are generalities; “feeling crappy” isn’t really a clinical term with a well-defined physical corollary in the structure of the brain. A new “Sleep Study” examined the specific effects of sleep deprivation on neural gene expression in mice.

By looking at which genes were “turned on” by sleep deprivation and how they corresponded to regions of the brain, scientists found that missing out on sleep affects the vast majority of neurons in the forebrain. These areas, including the hippocampus, the neocortex, and the amygdala, are largely responsible for higher thought, cognition, emotion, and memory. Novel genetic expressions were also discovered, including those associated with the stress response, intercellular signaling, and regulation of other genes. Understanding how individual brain genes respond to sleep deprivation could allow better treatments for sleep deprivation (not always easy to avoid, especially these days).

If pea-brained mice are getting hit hard by sleep deprivation, imagine what it does to a bunch of big-brained apes like ourselves! We heavily rely on brain function. It makes us human. Get your sleep, people!

Human Ancestors Skipped Fruit, Went for Nuts

If you go back far enough, our ancestors were probably mostly frugivorous. How far? New evidence pushes it back past 4.2 million years.

Anthropologists examined the enamel microstructure of the teeth of Australopithecus anamensis and found that while they were not equipped to deal with acid erosion from flesh fruits, they were made for the heavy mastication of abrasive, tough foods, like nuts, roots, and insects. The jaws allowed shearing and lateral chewing.

This diet corresponded with our move down from the trees and on to two feet. No longer were we tree apes dining on fruit and leaves; we were ground dwellers, trawling the grasslands for dense calories, fashioning tools to dig up roots and bugs and crack bones, and standing upright to reduce our sunlight exposure and keep an eye out for predators (and, eventually, prey). This new evolutionary path set us apart and helped make humans, and their brains, what they are today. Fruit is a tasty and nutritious addition to the diet, but it can’t beat dense roots, nuts, and animal foods for spurring, aiding, and abetting higher evolution.

That’s it for this week’s Monday musings. Have you picked up on some interesting new research or a hot topic I should know about? Shoot me an email with a link.

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51 Comments on "Monday Musings: Poop Transplants, Sleep Deprivation and Going Nuts"

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Luke
Luke
5 years 10 months ago

I’m not quite sure what to say to this. I’ll give a little anecdote I find myself repeating more and more often. When my friends question how I can live without enjoying all the delicious wonders of pastries and pancakes, I respond with one simple question. Would you rather be eating that pancake, or my filet mignon? The same applies to snack time. Would you rather pound down a rice crispy treat and a soda to refuel you for the next .5 hours, or have a handful of nuts that will keep you going all day?

DThalman
DThalman
5 years 10 months ago

honestly, the rice krispie treat. but i’m not doin that cuz, as mark puts it, it’s crappy…and it will make me feel crappy in the short-term and long-term

Aaron Curl
5 years 10 months ago

You must be new to paleo eating. After some time you will ALWAYS chose meat over frankenfood.

Chase
Chase
5 years 10 months ago

I don’t know what kind of nuts you eat but none I’ve eaten have kept me going all day. Bone-in Rib Eye steak and some fried eggs are quite another story.

Aaron Blaisdell
5 years 10 months ago

I guess it’s only fitting that after studying the effects of a human diet on rabbit health (a flawed animal model from the start), they’re finally turning to study rabbit diet on human health. (For those who don’t know, rabbits are hind-gut fermenters and reinjest their feces to absorb the nutrients that were broken down after passing through the hind guts. Gorillas are another highly folivorous species that does this, too.)

SLS
5 years 10 months ago

Nicely said, Aaron.

bigeasyprimal
bigeasyprimal
5 years 10 months ago

good stuff, as always…

Cj
Cj
5 years 8 months ago

Are you saying that they eat #*%@$?

moksha
moksha
5 years 10 months ago
“No longer were we tree apes dining on fruit and leaves; we were ground dwellers, trawling the grasslands for dense calories, fashioning tools to dig up roots and bugs and crack bones, and standing upright to reduce our sunlight exposure and keep an eye out for predators” hhmmmm Mark – have you factored in the possibility that Ms. Elaine Morgan has substantively presented and fought establishment CW thinking about our ancestry (Aquatic Ape Theory)? The specific point that comes to mind with regards to your above quote is Ms. Morgans astute observation that when we were supposed to have “come… Read more »
Ahmed Serag
5 years 10 months ago

Awesome first article! Kinda gross but still interesting

Mindi Anderson
5 years 10 months ago

Being an avid poop-o-logist myself, I’m always searching for more details about the sh**. For some reason, people don’t expect that coming from me. Hee…hee.

Jeff
5 years 10 months ago

What about just taking probiotics? Or is the fecal transplant more effective?

davidh
davidh
5 years 10 months ago

One of the pioneers of the fecal transplant is an Australian gastoenterologist. I saw him a few years back with abdominal pain and stool problems. I clearly recall him offering me the option of a fecal transplant at a cost of thousands of dollars. He seemed convinced about the efficacy of this approach, but I declined, because of the “ick” factor, cost, and doubts about whether the technique could really help. Now all better thanks to a strict paleo diet.

The Primal Palette
5 years 10 months ago

Twinkie diet guy on CNN will probably be looking forward to a nice poop transplant down the road, considering all the crap he filled up on. 😉

Cj
Cj
5 years 8 months ago

BwaHAHAHHAAHAHAHA! Love it.

RyanBs
5 years 10 months ago

My wife and I are always up for more information about Australopithecus and the other deep ancestors; it gives us a great idea of what we should be doing.

Alissa
5 years 10 months ago
Being in the symbiosis field as a microbiologist, the simple biggest thing missing from any talk about gut microbes is location, location, location. While we can certainly point to the Clostridium studies to show that general swaps do help, no one has yet be able to prove that probiotics, or other microbiome swaps, actually colonize at the level of tissue. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a few people who actually do this research (and I hope to do it myself one day) and the consensus is that we do indeed have a fabulous list now of microbes associated… Read more »
Mallory
5 years 10 months ago

i think sleep is often, often underrated when it is SOO important…my everything does a 180 when i lack sleep

SheGrok
SheGrok
4 years 2 months ago

What’s too much sleep? And what is too little?anyone out there have factual advice as to what is in fact needed for me to be grok healthy and strong ????????

Richad
Richad
5 years 10 months ago

Cool post! One small factual error.

“Lucy” is Australopithecus afarensis.
Australopithecus anamensis came before their kind, which is why the 4.2 mya date still fits. A. afarensis lived ~ 3.7-3.0 mya. Please correct this.

Otherwise, good stuff here. The probiotic stuff kinda puts a sock in the mouths of the “pure human carnivory” crowd. The nuts thing is interesting. And the neuroepigenetics of sleep deprivation is definitely an interesting topic!

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Adam Ball
5 years 10 months ago

Hey Mark,

Think the whole nuts vs. fruit thing has something to do with fruit being much sweeter and fleshy than THEIR ancient cousins? I believe I read that the fruit of today is more or less “candy” compared to what it used to be.

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[…] Fecal Transplants and Gut Health | Mark's Daily Apple […]

Tribe of Five
5 years 10 months ago

As a doctor, my husband has been involved with observing some fecal transplants. In treating c. difficile, a bacteria that kills patients in hospitals, the fecal transplant’s effectiveness was absolute. Still, my husband was disappointed when, at a presentation about the astounding effectiveness of such an inexpensive treatment, fellow doctors in the audience sneered and made comments about how icky the whole thing seemed.

Much better to throw little pills, in a sanitary bottle at the problem, even if they don’t work.

rob
rob
5 years 10 months ago

If I ever get to the point where I need a poop transplant, just shoot me.

Rebecca
Rebecca
5 years 10 months ago

You should frame that sentence on your office wall.

Jaques
Jaques
5 years 10 months ago

+1

Olly Hermon-Taylor
5 years 10 months ago

Thanks Mark, excellent food for thought.

Sleep deprivation is such a serious issue today, one that very few people take seriously.

Studies aside, it’s just basic common sense. Listen to your body. If you are tired, then sleep!

Olly

Jonathan
Jonathan
5 years 10 months ago

I am completely full of poop. Wonder if I could get paid for donating it?

Troy
Troy
5 years 10 months ago

This is certainly weird to me. I mean, a poop transplant? I’ve always been told to “eat shit and die.” No thanks. 🙂

Dawn
5 years 10 months ago

There is certainly enough research in to know that fecal transplants do work well.

However the underlying problem of how someones gut got to the point where it needed this treatment remains.

A bit like dieting – you can lose all that weight but if you continue eating in your old style you will put it back on.

Be interesting to see some long term studies on fecal transplants.

May the poop be with you!

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5 years 10 months ago

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Danielle
5 years 10 months ago

I’m worried about sleep deprivation. My job often begins before 5 am. How can I combat all the negative effects of sleep loss?

Jacque
Jacque
5 years 10 months ago

Go to bed at least 8hrs before you need to get up, and take naps when you get the chance. Not being a smart alec – my start time varies from 3am to 8am and I sometimes work late as well – I was continuously tired until I decided sleep had to be a priority. And now that I’m not exhausted, it’s much easier to avoid all the sugary, starchy food I used to use to stay awake.

Uruk-hai
5 years 10 months ago

From poop to nuts! We serve it all!

Richard Nikoley
5 years 10 months ago

Not just a probiotic, but the ultimate cure for vitamin B12 deficiency as well.

http://freetheanimal.com/2010/11/go-vegan-the-new-vegan-diet-raw-and-all-natural-b12-solution.html

Go Vegan!

Iluvatar
5 years 10 months ago

The probiotic acidophilus is what I just started taking – for the simple reason that is IMPOSSIBLE for me to buy raw cheese in the US unless it has been aged over 60 days (FDA rules).

Plus I hate yogurt and the other thingie you put on baked potatoes.

But gut health has been shown to be the SOLE factor in immune system health (combined with adequate sleep!!!)

Guess what else gut health depends on?

Kick-butt enzymes!!! From raw vegetables! Dude!

Veggies & bacteria – GROK on@@@@!!

Suvetar
Suvetar
5 years 10 months ago

Fecal Transplants???! You have got to be kidding…I don’t believe it.

Nads
Nads
4 years 9 months ago
I have a client with Parkinsons Disease who is going to take part in an Australian study to see the effects of Fecal Transplants on Parkinsons. He had a gut infection 2 years ago and had Flagyl treatment and bowel evacuation of some sort and had no Parkinsons symptoms for 2 days. So he is confident. There is a theory that the organisms can get to your brain via the Vagus Nerve. I tried giving him some Paleo/Primal sites and thought there was a link between diet and possible causes of these things that are supposedly cured by the fecal… Read more »
Johnfused
4 years 9 months ago

I heard a programme about this several months ago. You can hear here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00z6dvv#synopsis

I would have found it earlier but forgot that we Brits can’t spell properly (fecal vs. faecal). “Available since Sun, 13 Mar 2011.
Dr Mark Porter on faecal transplants, and the balance of good and bad bugs in our guts.”
In case the link doesn’t work, the program(me) is ‘Case Notes’ –Gut Bacteria, Wed 9th March 2011. Happy Christmas presents.

NorthernZephyr
NorthernZephyr
4 years 8 months ago
I nearly died of a C. Diff. infection just over a year ago (when I was 26 and previously healthy). C. Diff. produces toxins that poison you from the inside, and it did a doozy on me. It was honestly the worst experience of my life. I was on metronidazole and then vancomycin every 8 hours for over 40 days. During the worst period of the infection, I was only able to consume water, in very small amounts. I haven’t been the same since the infection. I have constant (hourly) stomach pain, no matter what or how much or when… Read more »
Lilian
Lilian
4 years 6 months ago

NorthernZephyr,
sorry to hear about your rough experience. With altered gut ecology you need to modify diet that would be great for healthy guts a bit. You may notice that you suffer more from eating complex carbs and tolerate simple sugars like rice syrup better, as it’s absorbed higher in the small intestine, while fiber and complex sugars may feed the pathogens that you suffer from. I would definitely consider the fecal transplant, too. You might find the Perfect Health Diet book and site very informative, too. Wishing you good health!

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[…] slain or has it merely assumed another form? You could even be displaying zero outward signs of sleep deprivation, like insulin resistance, fat gain, or a zombie-like disposition at midday, instead continuing to […]

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[…] to IgG. Fecal tests, however, indicate that around 29% of healthy people test positive. If the fecal antibody tests are accurate and reflective of gluten sensitivity, that’s nearly a third of […]

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[…] to IgG. Fecal tests, however, indicate that around 29% of healthy people test positive. If the fecal antibody tests are accurate and reflective of gluten sensitivity, that’s nearly a third of […]

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[…] ever prescient Mark Sisson wrote briefly about Fecal Transplants back in 2010. In 2011, he also referred to research for Do-It-Yourself fecal […]

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