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…

(Re)Becoming Human

AS THE SUN set over Lake Eyasi in Tanzania, nearly thirty minutes had passed since I had inserted a turkey baster into my bum and injected the feces of a Hadza man – a member of one of the last remaining hunter-gatherers tribes in the world – into the nether regions of my distal colon….

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…

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,…

Killing bacteria and the rise of IBD (in kids)

We’ve all heard by now that over zealous use of antibiotics – both prescriptions for humans and low doses in animal feed – is giving rise to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. But a potentially bigger issue is the changes in our entire microbial community brought on by antibiotics. The scorched earth strategy of antibiotics not…

An eaters guide to a healthy microbiome

“I have 15 cows, how many do you have?” Chief Jambiru asked me. “How many cows do I have?” I thought. What an odd question. But I shouldn’t have that so, as I had just asked the Chief how many cows he owned. Turning my bovine query back on me caught me a little off…

Nutrition’s ‘dark matter’

AS ANY reader of this blog knows, the human body is a mash up of human and microbial cells – with the microbial cells outnumbering our own 10 to 1. When you also consider the fact the human genome (our first genome) contains only 22,000 genes, but that our gut microbiome (our second genome made…

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…

Guts, Germs and Meals: what 37 microbiologist say about diet

Earlier this year (in 2012), U.S. News & World Report  reported its second annual list of the Best Diets, as ranked by a panel of  “22 nationally recognized experts in diet, nutrition, obesity, food psychology, diabetes, and heart disease.” The expert panel evaluated 28 diets including the well known Atkins, South Beach Diet, Biggest Loser…

You Smell Me Dawg?

HUMANS SPEND an awful lot of time and money trying to smell different – over $2 billion a year on antiperspirants and deodorants in the U.S. alone. It’s hard to imagine what that dollar amount might be once you add cologne and perfumes to the annual tally. On a more practical note, our keen smell…

Probiotics or Prebiotics: which would Darwin choose?

“Darwin” you are probably wondering, “what does he have to do with this?” A better choice might have been the Nobel prize-winning Russian zoologist Elie Metchnikoff (though few would recognize his name). He, like Darwin, exerted almost clairvoyant-like insight into biology and medicine, and his observation that many Bulgarians who consumed foods fermented with Lactobacilli…

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…

Dirtying up our diets

This article originally appeared as an Op-ed in the New York Times.   OVER 7,000 strong and growing, community farmers’ markets are being heralded as a panacea for what ails our sick nation. The smell of fresh, earthy goodness is the reason environmentalists approve of them, locavores can’t live without them, and the first lady…

Do spider monkeys hold the key to why we get fat?

IN EARLY 2004, a team of researchers spent nearly five months in a lowland subtropical forest in Bolivia following spider monkeys – an arboreal primate that primarily dines on ripe fruit and leaves. From dawn to dusk, the researchers recorded every detail of the dietary habits of these wild spider monkeys. They monitored the length…