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Thread: Michael Pollan writes about bacteria page

  1. #1
    iniQuity's Avatar
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    Michael Pollan writes about bacteria

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    Lengthy, but a fun and interesting read, Some of My Best Friends Are Germs - NYTimes.com

    I haven't read any of his books, but it strikes me as a tad odd that he describes his personal diet as such:

    Quote Originally Posted by As it happens, Lozupone and I had something in common, microbially speaking: we share unusually high levels of prevotella for Americans. Our gut communities look more like those of rural Africans or Amerindians than like those of our neighbors. Lozupone suspects that the reasons for this might have to do with a plant-based diet; [B
    we each eat lots of whole grains and vegetables and relatively little meat[/B]. (Though neither of us is a vegetarian.)
    But he talks about the gut lining, never mentioning how whole grains can negatively impact it. I wonder what type of whole grains he's eating? could be gluten-free at the very least. I would imagine he's "on the up and up" about paleo and it's arguments against grains.

    Anyway, thoughts?

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    Michael Pollan wrote Ominvore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, both interesting books. He argues for real, unprocessed food. His recommendations are similar to Weston A. Price recommendations.
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    I would hypothesize that his gut biome is more a result of what he is not eating rather than the copious amounts of vegetable matter that he attributes it too.

    Namely no processed foods, sugar, red dye, yellow dye, preservatives, round up..... ect.

    I believe that you could argue the addition of these presents a food source for pathogenic and dysbiotic gut biome and simply by eliminating them you improve.

    The only thing a meat centric vs vegetable centric focus in an otherwise omnivorous diet is likely to change is the proportions of certain "normal" healthy bacteria in the gut.

    At least that is what I believe occurs.

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    He mentions the importance of fiber for good bacterial growth. Though in general he's careful not to advocate any type of diet and stressed none of the scientists involved feel comfortable doing so either.
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    "His comment chimed with something a gastroenterologist at the University of Pittsburgh told me. “The big problem with the Western diet,” Stephen O’Keefe said, “is that it doesn’t feed the gut, only the upper G I. All the food has been processed to be readily absorbed, leaving nothing for the lower G I. But it turns out that one of the keys to health is fermentation in the large intestine.” And the key to feeding the fermentation in the large intestine is giving it lots of plants with their various types of fiber, including resistant starch (found in bananas, oats, beans); soluble fiber (in onions and other root vegetables, nuts); and insoluble fiber (in whole grains, especially bran, and avocados)."
    There's that word again...

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    Michael Polan also wrote the intro to the book "The Art of Fermentation" by Sandor Felix Katz wherein he says that
    his kitchen has become a veritable science experiment of bumbling vials full of fermenting bacterial goodness.

    The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz : Foreword By Michael Pollan - Chelsea Green

    If he's eating that many fermented foods then that has got to have an effect on his gut's microbiome. That would have a serious effect on the amount of gut bacteria he has and put a serious wrench in his claim that fiber is all alone the magical missing ingredient to a healthy gut biome.

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    Drumroll - Actually it makes perfect sense. Fermented foods are probiotics, ie. they contain the actual microbes. Fiber and resistant starch are prebiotics, ie. they serve as food for the microbes.

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    Where does fermented head cheese lie among all these claims? I bet its got a good looking bacteria and nutrition profile.

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    Quote Originally Posted by otzi View Post
    Drumroll - Actually it makes perfect sense. Fermented foods are probiotics, ie. they contain the actual microbes. Fiber and resistant starch are prebiotics, ie. they serve as food for the microbes.
    He seems to be saying that fiber alone is the key ingredient to a healthy gut biome. I'm questioning that claim on the basis of the amount of ferments he consumes. If he's not exaturating the amount he has said he eats. It could be the fermented food alone or the combination of the ferments AND the fiber, but if he's not exaturating the amount of fermented stuff he eats, then he's left out a CRITICAL part of the reason for his gut's amazing levels of bacteria in this article. Bad science Mr. Polan!

    Report the whole picture, not just parts of it.
    Last edited by Drumroll; 05-16-2013 at 05:28 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drumroll View Post
    He seems to be saying that fiber alone is the key ingredient to a healthy gut biome. I'm questioning that claim on the basis of the amount of ferments he consumes. If he's not exaturating the amount he has said he eats. It could be the fermented food alone or the combination of the ferments AND the fiber, but if he's not exaturating the amount of fermented stuff he eats, then he's left out a CRITICAL part of the reason for his gut's amazing levels of bacteria in this article. Bad science Mr. Polan!

    Report the whole picture, not just parts of it.
    Yeah, that was a painfully long article! I clicked on the link that leads to the American Gut project--there are a bunch of good articles there.

    What I have read recently about gut health is that is takes a diverse population of microbe species and a hefty dose of fiber/RS to keep the more beneficial types in control. Eating yogurt or taking probiotic pills is hardly enough. Most of the bacteria contained in them don't make it to the large intestine, and the ones that do get there can't establish new populations if there is not enough fiber/RS to sustain them.

    A funny thing about the probiotic industry, they only supply a few, easy to grow, microbe strains that almost everybody has anyway. I think that is what Pollan was referencing when he says to eat a wide range of fermented stuff. Also, dirty veggies and even not washing your hands like a maniac can help increase these populations. But without the RS/Fiber, it's for naught. Your gut will adjust to the food supply. A diet low in fiber and RS will lead to a gut populated with strains that do best fermenting proteins and fat--these are not the beneficial type that produce butyrate. It's an interesting field with lots of unknowns for sure.

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