Can’t see the forest for the microbes

  Cryotube-wielding scientists are the latest in a long line of researchers studying hunter-gatherer groups throughout the world that seek balance between the prying nature of research and the rights and respect of indigenous cultures. In a timely discussion, Dominguez-Bello and others[1] foretell of a future where mining the microbial richness of native peoples is…

The Human Microbiome as Road Kill in the Age of the Anthropocene

  With the world entering a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – the idea that we now live in a very different world than the one our not-so-distant ancestors inhabited, has never been truer. But amidst global deforestation, melting ice sheets, and general biosphere degradation, perhaps the human microbiome – the collection of our…

Paleo versus Vegetarian – who eats more fiber?

I often hear Paleo and Primal eaters say their shopping carts almost always look like that of a vegetarian grazing through the same super market when it comes to the non-grain veggies it contains. This comment – in my experience – often follows when addressing critics who say that a Paleo/Primal diet focused on fat…

Microbial Diversity: sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t

This past January I wanted to see what would happen to my gut flora if I adopted a hunter-gatherer diet for a week – eating the plants, animals and drinking the same water as the Hadza hunter-gatherers of east Africa that I was working with. Among other hypothesis I wanted to test, would immersing myself…

Sorry low carbers, your microbiome is just not that into you

I recently posted a scatter plot (below) on Facebook/Twitter of preliminary metadata that we are accumulating as part of the American Gut project – which includes, among other things, a questionnaire of 50 + questions and a 7 day food journal. Plotting participants self-reported height, weight, and 7 days of dietary info (recorded using an…

Breaking A Plate for Human Health

It’s difficult to overstate how our growing understanding of the trillions of microbes that live on and in the human body is radically changing the way we think about health and the prevention and treatment of a myriad of diseases. Not since Darwin unleashed onto the world the concept of Natural Selection, have humans been…

Swapping microbes with your dog

We hug them, kiss them, sleep with them, and share our food with them – they are, of course, the family dog. In return, they share with us some of the microbes they pick up as they saunter about the neighborhood and places beyond. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder reveals…

Slumdog Microbiome More Diverse

I was recently invited to put together a series of slides – or webinar – for a national supermarket chain on things their customers could do to improve the health of their gut microbiome. Once I got past the obvious first few slides that recommend they might spend a little less time in national supermarket…

Can parasites prevent autoimmune diabetes?

A guest post by Moises Velasquez-Manoff.   Coronado Biosciences, a company seeking FDA approval for a type of medicalized parasite, recently announced the beginning of a very interesting trial on Type 1 diabetes. Coronado is running a number of studies with a whipworm called Trichuris suis, which is native to pigs. It’s testing the parasite…

Why Every Registered Dietitian Should Sign up for American Gut

If your job is to provide science-based nutrition – and sometimes lifestyle – advice to individuals, patients, schools, sport teams, health agencies, grocery stores, food manufacturers, or a myriad of any other individuals, businesses and governments who seek such services, you have been doing so with one hand tied behind your back. This is not…

Are you carrying the obesity pathogen?

I can remember where I was and what I was doing when it happened. I was sitting in my usual spot at Sound Café in the Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans sipping coffee on a Sunday morning. It was mid-August, 2006. It wasn’t a tragic event that locked this place and time in my memory,…

Paleo poo and what it might mean for you

Humans have lived in caves and rock shelters for millions of years. Over time – long periods of time – the detritus of daily life mixed with sediments that blew in from the outside and the floor of the cave literally rose beneath their ancient feet, sealing below evidence of past activities. And if we…

Are you there Al Gore? It’s me, Microbiome

In the 50 years since the book “Silent Spring” sounded the alarm on humankind’s poisoning of the biosphere with synthetic pesticides like DDT, the grass roots environmental movement has tackled issues ranging from clean air and water, animal rights and acid rain to the more recent mega issue of global warming. Despite these and many…

A Window Into Your Health

Sitting on the floor of a traditional Himba hut in northern Namibia this past summer, I found myself staring at a peculiar hand-sized hole located about halfway up the curved wall thinking to myself, “what could be the purpose of such a small opening?” Turns out, it was the sole portal to the outside world…

Ghosts of our African Gut

Every person on earth has two genomes. The genome we inherit from mom and dad is the one we are most familiar, and more or less stuck with for life. Our second genome, the one we initially acquire from mom as we pass through the birth canal, is more dynamic and made up of the…

From turtles to tortillas: the evolution of our low GI diet

PACKED INTO four-wheel drive vehicles, ten middle-aged men and women traveled nearly two days on bumpy dirt roads and trails to reach a remote location, deep in the middle of nowhere. For seven weeks they would live off the land as hunter-gatherers, completely cut off from the niceties’ of the modern world they were born…