When Hippocrates, the ancient Greek father of medicine, said, “All disease begins in the gut,” he was probably right. We now know that poor gut health is linked to a broad range of diseases and health conditions, from depression to diabetes, cancer to obesity, and autism to autoimmune disease. Researchers are even exploring the connection between gut bacteria and the severity of COVID-19 infections.
The importance of gut health has never been clearer. Our scientific understanding of the microbiome—the trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live in and on our body, especially in the gastrointestinal tract—has grown leaps and bounds since Hippocrates’ time, and even since the last century. Doctors and researchers have much better tools for testing gut health and sequencing the microbiome than they did just a decade ago.
So all the world’s health issues solved, right? Not exactly.
Dalgona coffee, or whipped coffee, is the viral TikTok drink that’s suddenly plastered all over your feeds. To be perfectly honest, it couldn’t have hit the waves at a better time. Staying at home means you are your own barista, and your kitchen becomes your new favorite coffee shop. And the new shelter-in-place lifestyle leaves us with a few extra minutes in the morning to make a fancy coffee drink every now and again.
Burping, disrupted sleep, abdominal pain, nausea, even vomiting and choking … if you’ve experienced these symptoms, you’re likely suffering from chronic acid reflux, also commonly known at GERD.
You’re not alone. Roughly 25%-30% of Americans experience GERD-related heartburn multiple times a week.. One Norweigen study surmises that acid reflux is 50% more common than 10 years ago.I personally suffered bouts of GERD and acid reflux during and even after my endurance training years, and my symptoms persisted until I finally gave up grains once and for all.
More debilitating than average, occasional heartburn, GERD symptoms chip away at your daily quality of life, and if left unattended, can even eventually lead to esophageal cancer . GERD and acid reflux are becoming more prevalent , and supposed ‘miracle’ pills are more pervasive than ever: from TUMS and Pepcid to prescription medications, the market is flooded with treatment options. How did a condition usually associated with late-stage pregnancy and over indulgence become an epidemic?
For the vast majority of human history (and prehistory), men, women, and children had near-constant contact with the natural world around them. They were walking on the ground. They were playing in the dirt. They were digging for roots and grubs. They were eating with their hands. They were field dressing animals and wiping their hands on the grass. Nothing was sterilized; the tools to sterilize the environment didn’t exist. You could boil water, but that was about it. Bacteria were everywhere, and humans were constantly ingesting it. Even as babies, preindustrial infants nursed for almost four years, so they were getting a steady source of breastmilk-based probiotic bacteria for a good portion of their early lives.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions. First up, what can a person do to help their gut recover its barrier function after too many antibiotics? Are there any foods, supplements, or dietary strategies? Second, what can explain rapid fatigue during sprint sessions on a keto diet? Is this simply part of the deal, or are there modifications you can make? And finally, what do I do when I know I’m going to get a bad night’s sleep?
I have a confession to make: I, Mark Sisson, suffer from keto crotch.
It’s embarrassing, really. I thought maybe it was just the change in climate moving from Malibu to Miami—the humidity, the heat, the fact that I’m paddling and swimming more often now. There’s a whole lot of moisture down there. Perpetual steaminess.
But then I met up with my writing partner and good pal Brad Kearns, who’s been working with me on my upcoming book. Brad lives in Northern California, which is far from hot or humid right now. He’s also a staunch keto guy most of the time, and, well, let’s just say I could smell him before I could see him. We met up at a coffee shop and cleared out everyone in a fifteen foot radius. We sampled a new exogenous ketone product he’s been trying and not one, not two, but three separate individuals approached to inquire if we were salmon fishermen.
Okay, let’s get serious. (And, yes—to address some reader confusion there—the above is pure satire.) Does “keto crotch” really exist? And, if it does, what can you do to prevent it?