Gut health is an enormous topic that just got even bigger.
You know about probiotics: bacteria that provide benefits to our gut, metabolic, and/or overall health when eaten. Some probiotic bacteria colonize our guts—they take up residence in our digestive tract and provide lasting effects. Some probiotic bacteria are transients—they visit and impart benefits and interact with our guts and its inhabitants, but do not stay.
You also know about prebiotics: non-digestible food components that nourish and provide food for the bacteria living in our guts. Prebiotics include fermentable plant fibers, resistant starch, “animal fiber,” and certain polyphenols.
This is standard stuff. Entire store shelves are devoted to fermented dairy, pickles, sauerkraut, supplements, kombucha, and other sources of probiotics. You’ve probably got all sorts of strange gums and fibers and powders that serve as prebiotic substrate for gut bugs. Gut health is mainstream.
But you probably don’t know about postbiotics.
A lot of foods exist on a spectrum of suitability, from “really bad” wheat to “not so terrible” rice. Well, what about the rest of them? Since I get a lot of email asking whether oats and oatmeal are good for you, I figured I would dig into that question for this post.
Though I was (and still mostly am) content to toss grains on the “do not eat” pile, I think we’re better served by more nuanced positions regarding grains. Not everyone can avoid all grains at all times, and not everyone wants to avoid all grains at all times. For those situations, it makes sense to have a game plan, a way to “rank” foods.
Today, we’ll go over the various forms of oats and oatmeal, along with any potential nutritional upsides or downsides.
So, you overdid it…or just ate something that doesn’t work with your body. Maybe you didn’t binge per se but you abandoned the original plan and now you’re feeling the pain. You ate, maybe more than you intended, maybe differently than you intended.
Non-Primal foods were consumed – perhaps many of them or just a few in larger than planned quantities. Non-Primal and sub-Primal drinks were imbibed beyond the point of intention. And now the consequences are playing out. You’re stuck in a bloated, sloth-like, catatonic state. You’re nursing a major headache with every shade shut and the covers over your head wishing in a rather non-seasonal mindset that your children would take the noise to some distant corner of the neighborhood. Maybe you’ve taken up residence in the bathroom.
In a less dramatic scenario, perhaps you’re just pushing yourself through the day because you notice your energy is off, your digestion not up to full speed, your mood not quite as equanimous as usual. Whether you feel it was worth it or not, who wouldn’t want to reverse the course of misery itself after the fact?
Think of it this way: with health comes sensitivity to what’s unhealthy.
By far the most exciting health trend to hit the scene in the last few years is the Carnivore Diet. Tens of thousands of people are adopting it. Passionate online communities devoted to discussing and extolling the virtues of exclusive meat-eating have sprung up. And while in raw numbers it isn’t as big as keto, “carnivore diet” is running neck and neck with “vegan diet” on Google Trends for the past year. It’s one I’ve been watching for a long time.
Over ten years ago, I addressed the idea of a zero-carb carnivorous diet right here on this blog.
A few years ago, I went over the advantages and shortcomings of the carnivore diet and even gave my suggestions for making it work better.
Earlier this year, I explored the notion of a seafood-based carnivorous diet.
Today, I’m going to pull it all together and give an overview—a definitive guide, if you will.
“You should take probiotics.” “I heard probiotics are good for you.” “Oh, probiotics are so, so important.” Yes, yes. These are all true statements. But they are broad. Which probiotics? Which strains for what purpose? Simply saying “probiotics” tells us very little about what we’re supposed to be taking. It’s like saying “You should eat food.” Technically accurate yet operationally useless. Today I’m going to rectify that. I’m going to describe the best probiotic strains for each desired purpose, because there is no single strain to rule them all. The probiotic strain that’s best for anxiety may not be the best probiotic strain for allergies, and so on. Of course, these aren’t the final word. What follows is the best available evidence as it exists today. That may change tomorrow. And it will certainly change based on your individual makeup. With all that in mind, let’s get right down to it. Instantly download your Guide to Gut Health Best Probiotic for Anxiety The existence of the gut-brain axis — that mysterious thoroughfare running from the gut to the brain and back again — and the presence and even production of neurotransmitters along the gut suggests that “gut feelings” describe real phenomena. Mental and gut health are strongly linked, and it’s most likely a bi-directional relationship where each affect the other. You know this already, though, don’t you? We’ve all felt fear or discomfort in our guts. We’ve all had instinctual responses to certain people that seemed to manifest in our stomachs (and later be proven). These are real. They aren’t figments of our imagination. For instance, we know that some strains of gut bacteria can produce GABA, the “chill-out” neurotransmitter responsible for sleep and relaxation. We know that feeding prebiotics (bacteria food) to people can lower their cortisol and induce them to focus on positive stimuli instead of negative stimuli. We know that the greater the intake of fermented food like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, or sauerkraut, the lower the incidence of social anxiety. The best candidate for anxiety is Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Although no human anxiety studies for this strain exist (yet), there are plenty of animal studies that support it. One notable paper found that dosing mice with L. rhamnosus increased cortical expression of GABA genes and reduced cortisol and anxiety-like behaviors. Best Probiotic for IBS Irritable bowel syndrome is, well, irritating. Even more irritating is the fact that it describes a confluence of symptoms rather than a specific disease; two people, each with “IBS,” can have disorders with completely different etiologies. This complicates the probiotic you choose. In one study, IBS patients who took a combo of Saccharomyces boulardii, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus plantarum saw a 73% improvement in symptoms—but only if they also had small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). IBS patients without SIBO only had a 10% improvement. (Side note: since gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, usually presents with SIBO, there’s a good chance that this lineup of strains could also help there) Another paper, a meta-analysis from … Continue reading “What Are the Best Probiotic Strains?”
Although fermented cabbage has been around in some form or another since ancient times – Roman author Pliny the Elder wrote of the stuff in the first century A.D. – modern methods for making sauerkraut were developed sometime between the 16th and 18th centuries. It’s primarily known as a German staple, but most other European countries use it in their traditional dishes. It’s pretty easy to understand why it was so popular: it keeps for a long time without refrigeration. Dutch, German, and English sailors found that the vitamin C-rich kraut prevented scurvy on the open seas, and the fact that it was salted and fermented made it ideal for long voyages without other preservation methods.
If you’re on a high-fat ketogenic diet and running on a fat-based metabolism, you need access to fat. Some of it comes from your own body, but not all. A good portion of your body’s fuel will come from dietary fat, or the fat you eat. Especially if you are eating more fat than you’re accustomed to, you need to be able to absorb and then digest the fat you eat and turn it into useable energy. If you aren’t digesting fats, you may be in for some discomfort.
What are the signs and symptoms of poor fat digestion?
A couple months ago, we explored many of the ways our gut bacteria affect us, focusing on the lesser known effects like anti-nutrient nullification, vitamin manufacture, and neurotransmitter production. Today, we’re going to discuss all of the ways (that we know) we can affect our gut bacteria. It turns out that the food we eat, the amount of sun we get, whether we eat organic or not, the supplements we take, and even the kind of nuts or chocolate we decide to eat – just to name a few factors – can change the composition and function of our gut microbiota for the good or for the bad. We may still have a lot to learn about this gut stuff, but the bulk of the evidence says that we do have the power (and responsibility if you care to be healthy) to affect the health of our gut microbiota.
Here are 16 things to do, eat, avoid, and/or heed:
If 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: