Gut microbiome testing: What can it reveal about your health?

    enSeptember 21, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • Understanding the impact of gut microbiome on healthThe gut microbiome, made up of trillions of microbes, influences cravings, diseases like heart disease and stroke, mental health, and energy levels. Advanced testing can provide insights into general health and immune system, but should not be diagnostic. Balance of good vs bad bacteria is important and can be improved through various methods.

      The gut microbiome, which is made up of trillions of microbes, plays a crucial role in our long-term health. These microbes can affect our cravings, risk of diseases such as heart disease and stroke, mental health, and energy levels. Testing and understanding our gut microbiome through advanced technology can provide valuable insights into our general health and immune system, but it should not be seen as a diagnostic tool on its own. The variety and balance of good versus bad bacteria in our gut are important, and we can improve our gut microbiome through various methods. The discovery of new gut bacteria linked to good health is ongoing, and the future may hold a time when everyone gets their gut microbiome tested for better health management.

    • Understanding the Complex Gut MicrobiomeThe gut microbiome, a complex ecosystem of microbes, influences our immune system, brain, and overall health through chemical production. Diversity and balance are key for wellbeing, and food intake impacts its health.

      Our gut microbiome, which includes bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, yeasts, and parasites, functions as a complex ecosystem that interacts with our immune system and brain. These microbes produce chemicals that help our bodies defend against threats, regulate mood, and even influence our overall health. The diversity and balance of these microbes are crucial for our wellbeing, and their health depends on the food we consume. The gut microbiome has expanded our understanding of health beyond just food digestion, and its importance is increasingly recognized in areas like cancer and immunotherapy. The microbiome's composition varies from person to person, and new techniques reveal even greater diversity within each species. Understanding and caring for our gut microbiome is essential for maintaining optimal health and potentially preventing chronic diseases.

    • Understanding the Complexity of Our MicrobiomesOur microbiomes are unique, dynamic, and offer real-time insights into our health and diet. By making informed choices, we can positively influence our microbiomes and improve our overall health.

      Our gut microbiomes are incredibly diverse and unique to each individual, even more so than our human genome. This complexity is important because our microbiomes provide valuable insights into our current health and diet. Unlike our DNA, which can provide predictive information about potential health risks, our microbiomes offer a real-time snapshot of our wellbeing. Additionally, our microbiomes are not static; they can change in response to both short-term dietary choices and long-term lifestyle habits. This means that by making informed decisions about what we eat and how we live, we have the power to positively influence our microbiomes and improve our overall health. So, while the idea of testing and understanding our microbiomes may seem radical compared to more traditional health tests like blood pressure or cholesterol levels, it offers valuable insights that can help us make informed choices for a healthier, happier life.

    • Impact of Diet on Gut MicrobiomeDiet significantly influences gut microbiome, noticeable effects seen in a few days, acquiring new microbes and providing them with right food takes time, gut microbiome is an average of last year's diet, testing every 6 months recommended

      Our gut microbiome is dynamic and can be significantly influenced by our diet. With the help of big data and research, we can identify which microbes need improvement and which foods can aid in their growth. Dramatic changes in diet, whether towards a healthier or less healthy direction, can lead to noticeable effects within a few days. However, acquiring new microbes and providing them with the right food for colonization is a more complex process that requires both dietary changes and time. The microbiome is an average of what we've eaten in the last year, so testing and monitoring every 6 months is recommended for observing improvements in our diet's impact on our gut microbiome. The complexity of understanding the gut microbiome continues to unravel as we delve deeper into its intricacies.

    • Effects of diet changes on microbiome varyFollowing a gut-healthy diet can lead to microbiome improvements in 3-6 months for most people, but individual results may vary

      The effectiveness of diet changes on the microbiome can vary greatly from person to person. Some individuals may see significant improvements in a matter of months, while others may require a longer period of time. The stability and diversity of one's microbiome also play a role in how easily it can be changed. Recent studies suggest that following a gut-healthy diet can lead to improvements in microbiome composition within 3-6 months for most people. However, individual results may vary, and ongoing research aims to provide more personalized advice based on an individual's starting score and unique microbiome profile.

    • Personalized nutrition based on gut microbiome analysisCollect a stool sample at home, send it to a lab, receive personalized dietary recommendations based on gut microbiome analysis for significant health improvements

      Personalized nutrition, based on individual gut microbiome analysis, can lead to significant improvements in health and wellbeing. This process involves collecting a stool sample at home, sending it to a lab for analysis, and then receiving personalized dietary recommendations based on the results. The acceptance of this practice has grown over the years, and while it may seem unconventional to some, it has become more accepted in certain cultures. The ZOE study, discussed in the podcast, has shown promising results in this area, and further research will be shared as the data becomes available. If you're interested in discovering what foods are best for your unique body, consider exploring personalized nutrition programs like the one offered by ZOE.

    • Overcoming the aversion to collecting and analyzing human fecal samples for microbiome testingUnderstanding the microbiome through fecal sample analysis is crucial for health prevention, despite initial discomfort. Advancements in technology have made the process more detailed, accurate, and affordable.

      Overcoming the aversion to collecting and analyzing human fecal samples for microbiome testing is an important step towards understanding normal health prevention. This process involves extracting and sequencing the genetic material of microbes in the sample, which is then pieced together to create a comprehensive picture of the microbial community. However, this is a complex and computationally intensive process, as the machines used can only read small pieces of the DNA, and the resulting puzzle must be reconstructed. This strategy has improved significantly over the years, allowing for more detailed and accurate analysis at a lower cost. Despite the initial discomfort, the importance of understanding the microbiome for health prevention is becoming increasingly recognized, and the cost and accessibility of testing are continuing to decrease. However, most microbiome testing companies still use a less sophisticated method called 16s sequencing, which only looks at one gene, providing a less comprehensive understanding of the microbial community.

    • Considering microbe functions for a more accurate health pictureWhile the microbiome's role in predicting diseases is promising, it's essential to consider other factors like blood sugar response and lipid testing for a more accurate health assessment.

      While analyzing the microbiome, the focus should not only be on the number of microbes present but also on the specific subtypes and their functions. The microbiome is incredibly complex, and its role in predicting individual diseases is still not fully understood. Different microbes can produce the same chemicals, leading to varying health outcomes. Therefore, to get a more accurate picture of an individual's health, it's essential to consider other factors like blood sugar response to foods and lipid testing. These tests provide better predictors of specific health conditions like cardiovascular disease. The microbiome alone cannot yet deliver high-quality personalized advice for disease prevention or treatment. However, as technology advances and we gain a better understanding of the functions of different microbes, we may be able to make more accurate predictions in the future. For now, a holistic approach that includes various tests is necessary to improve our understanding of an individual's health. In the case of certain diseases like colorectal cancer, the microbiome can provide direct insights, but for more complex conditions like cardiometabolic health, we need to contextualize the microbiome with respect to diet and other health readouts.

    • Discovering new microbes in our bodiesNewly discovered microbes in our bodies could hold unknown functions and capabilities, contributing to our overall health understanding.

      Our microbiome, the ecosystem inside our bodies, is influenced by both our personal habits and the environment around us. While it can provide valuable information about our health, it's essential to remember that it's just one piece of the puzzle. In 2019, a groundbreaking study identified 15 bacteria strongly associated with good outcomes and 15 associated with negative ones based on diet. Since then, advancements in technology and research have led to the discovery of thousands of new microbes, some of which have never been named or grown in a lab. These discoveries are like finding new, unknown factories within our own bodies, potentially holding new functions and capabilities. While we've made significant progress in understanding the microbiome, there is still much to discover, with approximately 80% identified and 20% remaining as "microbial dark matter."

    • Understanding the relationship between food and gut bacteriaNew research reveals individualized relationships between specific foods and gut bacteria, emphasizing the importance of diverse food choices for a healthy gut microbiome.

      Our understanding of the microbes in our gut, particularly bacteria, is expanding rapidly. This expansion means we're discovering more "good bugs" that are beneficial for our health and food preferences. For instance, certain bacteria thrive on specific fibers found in coffee. This individualized relationship between food and gut bacteria highlights the importance of diverse food choices for a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. As research progresses, we'll be able to provide more personalized dietary advice based on an individual's specific gut bacteria and food associations. This approach recognizes that not everyone responds the same way to generic healthy foods, and that certain foods may be more beneficial for specific individuals based on their unique gut microbiome.

    • Insights from traditional populations' gut microbiomesUnderstanding the differences in gut microbiomes of traditional populations can provide valuable insights for improving modern Western gut health.

      The gut microbiomes of traditional, non-Westernized populations, with diets and lifestyles different from ours, have distinct microbiomes that are more diverse and fiber-rich, similar to those of ancient civilizations. These healthier microbiomes may offer valuable insights for improving modern Western gut health. The differences aren't only due to diet but also sanitation and other factors. By understanding these differences, we can assess the health of our own gut microbiomes and monitor how various factors, including illnesses, diet changes, and medications, impact it. As routine gut health tests become more common, individuals can set goals to improve their gut health, just as they would monitor other aspects of their health.

    • Boost your gut health with whole plants, polyphenols, fermented foods, time-restricted eating, and avoid ultra-processed foods.Consume a diverse range of whole plants, eat colorful foods for polyphenols, add fermented foods, practice time-restricted eating, and minimize ultra-processed foods for gut health improvement.

      Improving gut health involves consuming a diverse range of whole plants, eating colorful plants for their polyphenols, incorporating fermented foods, giving your gut a break through time-restricted eating, and avoiding ultra-processed foods. These are general rules, but personalized data can help determine what works best for each individual. It's also important to note that occasional dietary lapses, such as going on holiday and eating differently for a week, aren't likely to cause significant damage to your microbiome, as long as you maintain a diverse diet overall.

    • Junk Food Holidays and Microbiome DiversityA junk food-only diet can lead to a loss of microbiome diversity, but recovery time varies depending on individual's gut health. Some medications may also negatively impact the gut microbiome, requiring caution.

      While it's possible to disrupt the microbiome with a junk food-only diet, it's not necessary to completely ruin it. However, going on a purely junk food holiday with no fiber can lead to a significant loss of microbiome diversity, and it may take a long time to recover. It's important to keep in mind that everyone's microbiome is different, and those with healthier gut microbes can afford more leeway than those with sicker ones. Additionally, some medications, such as painkillers, may negatively impact the gut microbiome, but more research is needed in this area. Overall, it's crucial to be mindful of the foods and medications we consume and their potential effects on our microbiome.

    • The gut microbiome's impact on immunotherapy and cancer treatmentDiscover good and bad bugs through microbiome testing, maintain a healthy gut with diverse whole plants, fermented foods, and restricted eating hours, and avoid ultra-processed foods to ensure optimal response to treatments.

      The gut microbiome, which is like a complex jungle of interacting species, plays a crucial role in determining our response to immunotherapy and cancer treatment. Our unique microbiomes, with distinct strains, can change swiftly but for long-term health improvements, it may take 4-6 months. Microbiome testing, such as Zoe's shotgun sequencing, helps discover good and bad bugs linked to health and create a score similar to a cholesterol or blood sugar score. Eating 30 diverse whole plants, trying to eat the rainbow, consuming fermented foods, restricting eating hours, and avoiding ultra-processed foods are key advice for maintaining a healthy gut. A warning from Tim's experience: consuming fast food for an extended period can significantly reduce microbial diversity, and the damage may not fully recover.

    • Maintaining Gut Health on VacationBalance indulgences with core nutrition to support gut microbiome, neglecting them can lead to negative consequences, ZOE Science and Nutrition offers resources and tools to improve gut health.

      While it's possible to enjoy indulgences on holiday without completely disrupting your gut microbiome, it's important to ensure you're still providing the necessary core nutrition to support these microbes. This doesn't mean eliminating treats entirely, but rather finding a balance. As experts Nicola and Tim emphasized, microbes play a crucial role in our overall health, and neglecting them can lead to negative consequences. So, next time you're on vacation, consider the ice cream as a treat on top of a solid foundation of nutritious foods. ZOE Science and Nutrition will continue to explore these topics and delve deeper into the latest discoveries, offering resources and tools to help you improve your gut health. If you're interested in understanding your gut microbiome and accessing personalized nutrition recommendations, check out Zoe's program at zoe.com/podcast and enjoy a 10% discount with the code PODCAST. Stay tuned for more informative episodes.

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    25:07 Obesity and inflammation

    28:45 Muscle loss and inflammation (sarcopenia)

    30:52 The impact of meals, sugar and fats on inflammation

    33:35 How diet could reduce inflammation

    34:42 Why we all respond to food differently

    38:42 Dietary choices to manage inflammation

    40:00 What are omega-3s?

    41:17 Anti-inflammatory foods

    43:40 Health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids

    45:55 Challenges with farmed salmon

    Mentioned in today's episode:

    Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory processes: Nutrition or pharmacology? in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

    Omega-6 fatty acids and inflammation in PLEFA

    Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes in Nutrients 

    Another relevant study:

    Health relevance of the modification of low-grade inflammation in ageing and the role of nutrition in Ageing Research Reviews

    Is there a nutrition topic you’d like us to explore? Email us at podcast@joinzoe.com, and we’ll do our best to cover it. 

    Episode transcripts are available here.

    Related Episodes

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    Links mentioned in the episode:

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    There’s been a surge in our consumption of ultra-processed foods, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States, where these foods contribute about two-thirds of people’s caloric intake.

    Also a cause for concern is emerging evidence of ultra-processed foods’ detrimental effect on our brain health and overall well-being.

    When most of our calories come from ultra-processed foods, the risk of chronic physical and mental health conditions escalates. Scientists are now uncovering the intricate mechanisms behind this relationship, particularly concerning the effects of these foods on our brains.

    In today’s episode, we welcome back Prof. Felice Jacka, OAM. Felice is an Alfred Deakin professor of nutritional psychiatry and the director of the Food & Mood Centre at Deakin University, in Australia. She’s also the founder of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research and the world’s leading researcher on food’s impact on our brain and mental health.

    Now, she’s back on the show to delve deeper into the effects of ultra-processed foods on mental health and the brain, specifically the hippocampus, an area responsible for learning and memory.

    Download our FREE guide — Top 10 Tips to Live Healthier: https://zoe.com/freeguide


    00:00 Intro

    01:19 Quick fire questions

    04:17 What is ultra processed food?

    05:37 What is the NOVA classification?

    08:18 How does food impact the brain?

    10:33 What does the hippocampus do to influence our brain function?

    12:58 Is there a link between the size of the hippocampus and quality of diet?

    13:45 Is there a link between the quality of diet and depression?

    20:37 What are the effects of long term dietary habits?

    21:33 Is there a link between poor diet and dementia

    23:18 Is there a link between autism and diet?

    24:00 How real is the link between diet and dementia?

    24:57 What is the oral microbiome?

    28:16 New trial between whole foods and vitamin enriched nutritional foods

    29:28 How does processing foods impact the makeup of foods on a molecular level?

    32:10 How does the biodiversity around us affect our body?

    33:08 How does the industrialized food environment impact us?

    35:50 How strong is the evidence for this? is it comparable to smoking?

    39:12 Practical tips to help with our diet

    40:07 How does reducing consumption of UPF affect us?

    41:25 How to cut down on UPF

    44:04 Is it too late to change your diet?

    45:39 Does exercise impact our brain?

    47:41 Summary

    52:57 Goodbyes/Outro

    Mentioned in today’s episode: 

    Learn more about Felice on the Food & Mood Centre’s website.

    Follow Felice on Instagram.

    Episode transcripts are available here.

    Is there a nutrition topic you’d like

    The Poo Scientist: "If Your Poo Looks Like This Go To A Doctor!", "Your Gut Health Causes Belly Fat, Anxiety!" & "Alcohol Is Destroying Your Gut Microbiome!"

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    It controls your immune system, anxiety, depression and whether or not you get diseases, so why do we know so little about the gut microbiome? Dr Will Bulsiewicz is an award-winning gastroenterologist (medicine that focuses on the digestive system) and a world-renowned gut-health expert. He is the author of over 20 scientific papers and the book, ‘Fibre Fuelled’. In this conversation, Dr Will and Steven discuss everything from, the power of the microbiome, why fibre is crucial for optimal health, the importance of understanding your poo, and why food can be just as powerful as medication. You can purchase Dr Will’s book, ‘Fibre Fuelled: The Plant-Based Gut Health Plan to Lose Weight, Restore Health and Optimise Your Microbiome’, here: https://amzn.to/3NydmSB Additional Interview Information: Interview Brief: https://drwillbrief.tiiny.site The Bristol Stool Chart: https://bit.ly/486k4Yo Dr Will’s supplement: https://38tera.com Follow Dr Will: Instagram: https://bit.ly/3tyHQgu Website: https://bit.ly/3tsZum4 Get tickets to The Business & Life Speaking Tour: https://stevenbartlett.com/tour/ Follow me: Instagram: http://bit.ly/3nIkGAZ Twitter: http://bit.ly/3ztHuHm Linkedin: https://bit.ly/41Fl95Q Telegram: http://bit.ly/3nJYxST Sponsors: The Conversation Cards: https://thediary.com/products/the-cards Zoe: http://joinzoe.com with an exclusive code CEO10 for 10% off Huel: https://my.huel.com/daily-greens-uk Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    #239 BITESIZE | How to Personalise Your Diet for Increased Energy and Better Health | Tim Spector

    #239 BITESIZE | How to Personalise Your Diet for Increased Energy and Better Health | Tim Spector

    A diet that gives great results for a friend may not work well for you. We are all unique, and the way we eat should be too.  

    Feel Better Live More Bitesize is my weekly podcast for your mind, body, and heart.  Each week I’ll be featuring inspirational stories and practical tips from some of my former guests.


    Today’s clip is from episode 131 of the podcast with leading expert on the gut microbiome, Professor Tim Spector.

    In this clip Tim explains why there’s no one-size-fits-all ‘correct’ way to eat, and how we could all experience benefits from experimenting with what, how, and when we eat.

    Thanks to our sponsor http://www.athleticgreens.com/livemore

    Order Dr Chatterjee's new book Happy Mind, Happy Life: UK version: https://amzn.to/304opgJ, US & Canada version: https://amzn.to/3DRxjgp

    Support the podcast and enjoy Ad-Free episodes. Try FREE for 7 days on Apple Podcasts https://apple.co/3oAKmxi. For other podcast platforms go to https://fblm.supercast.com.


    Show notes and the full podcast are available at drchatterjee.com/131

    Follow me on instagram.com/drchatterjee

    Follow me on facebook.com/DrChatterjee

    Follow me on twitter.com/drchatterjeeuk

    DISCLAIMER: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website. 

    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    Ep 959 | Birth Control Is Making Women Bisexual | Guest: Emily Detrick

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    Today we're joined by health coach Emily Detrick, @littleraeofhealth on Instagram, to talk about hormone health, nutrition, and the truth about birth control. Emily shares her story of figuring out that birth control was affecting her body negatively and how she began to heal. We talk about blood sugar and cravings and explain how to combat the "need" for sugar. We also discuss cortisol, the stress hormone, and how it affects us alongside other hormones. Emily explains the importance of protein throughout the day in balancing hormones. Then, what's the truth about birth control? We explain the harms of hormonal birth control and why women are lied to from a young age about this. We also cover how to optimize hormone health for fertility and periods and share what toxic products we should be avoiding. --- Timecodes: (00:53) Emily's story (08:20) Blood sugar, cravings and protein (16:06) Cortisol (19:00) Eating to balance hormones (24:14) Birth control (35:40) Fertility & periods (55:40) Exercise, cold plunges and saunas (01:01:28) Non-toxic products (01:09:55) Stanleys --- Today's Sponsors: Seven Weeks Coffee — Seven Weeks is a pro-life coffee company with a simple mission: DONATE 10% of every sale to pregnancy care centers across America. Get your organically farmed and pesticide-free coffee at sevenweekscoffee.com and let your coffee serve a greater purpose. Use the promo code 'ALLIE' to save 10% off your order. Good Ranchers — add 2.25 lbs. of free chicken breasts to EVERY order you receive for the next year—that’s over 25 lbs. of FREE, pre-trimmed chicken breasts! Go to GoodRanchers.com and use code 'ALLIE' when you subscribe. Jase Medical — get up to a year’s worth of many of your prescription medications delivered in advance. Go to JaseMedical.com today and use promo code “ALLIE" for a discount. Carly Jean Los Angeles — use promo code RELATABLE to get 20% off your entire order at CarlyJeanLosAngeles.com! --- Relevant Episodes: Ep 951 | What Does the Bible Say About Our Diet? | Guest: Chelsea Blackbird https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ep-951-what-does-the-bible-say-about-our-diet-guest/id1359249098?i=1000645362061 Ep 810 | Detoxifying Your Life: Birth Control, Cleaning Chemicals & Fake Food | Guest: Shawna Holman https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ep-810-detoxifying-your-life-birth-control-cleaning/id1359249098?i=1000614201869 Ep 741 | How to Realistically Live Toxin-Free | Guest: Taylor Dukes https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ep-741-how-to-realistically-live-toxin-free-guest-taylor/id1359249098?i=1000595318788 --- Buy Allie's book, You're Not Enough (& That's Okay): Escaping the Toxic Culture of Self-Love: https://alliebethstuckey.com/book Relatable merchandise – use promo code 'ALLIE10' for a discount: https://shop.blazemedia.com/collections/allie-stuckey Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices