You probably think of yourself as a single entity, an independent navigator of your own life, think again! In reality, everything you think, feel, or do is affected by the intricate communication process between the multi-millions of microbes in and on your body. So whenever you say “I” you might as well say “WE”.
We each host more than 10,000 species of organisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. All together, these are called the microbiome. Each of us has a unique microbiome balance, subject to the genes we inherited, the environment we live in, and the food we eat. Maintaining the distinctive microbiome balance that is ideal for each individual is key to our wellness.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) funded the “Microbiome Project” which is considered by many as “the second genome project”. It has stimulated fascinating research and discoveries and is already revolutionizing the way we treat illness and, no less important, the way we think of wellness. We used to think of bacteria as the enemy, a source of sickness and disease. We now know the picture is multifaceted. Microbes are not the primitive, single cell organism we used to think they are. Our microbes maintain active social colonies and communicate among themselves in sophisticated ways. They affect our brain, our gut, and every associated bodily system. Mental illness, autoimmune diseases such as IBD, and metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetics, are all affected by our microbiome.
As research progresses, we are heading for a future where probiotics will be used more than antibiotics, and diets will be tailored to support our good bacteria and starve our bad bacteria.
The first diet that addressed gut bacteria by name and intent was the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, created by Dr Sidney V. Haas (1870–1964) as a treatment for celiac and inflammatory bowel disease. The diet was later advanced and developed further by biochemist Elaine Gloria Gottschall M.Sc. who wrote the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet. This book helped countless people regain their health while its author was generously mentoring and teaching people how to use this diet to heal. The SCD is being researched today as a therapeutic diet by leading GI scientists and doctors, and is being practiced in different modernized variations. Many of the popular “new” diets today are actually, variations, interpretations and offshoots of the SCD. In my opinion, the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, should be considered required reading for anyone interested in microbiome diets.
Respect for healthy diets and the healing powers of food have been mentioned as early as biblical times and throughout history. Unlocking the mysteries of the microbiome holds great promise for our future. Here are sample resources for microbiome published research and books
- The Effect of Diet on the Human Gut Microbiome: A Metagenomic Analysis in Humanized Gnotobiotic Mice. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The publisher’s final edited version of this article is available at Sci Transl Med.
- See commentary “Gut check: testing a role for the intestinal microbiome in human obesity.” in Sci Transl Med, volume 1 on page 6-7.
- Bacterial communities cause inflammation of the gut. Novel mechanism for Crohn’s disease uncovered. April 23, 2015, Research news
- Analysis of Gut Microbiome and Diet Modification in Patients with Crohn’s Disease. Published: June 27, 2014. www.symbiosisonlinepublishing.com.
- The Gut’s Microbiome Changes Rapidly with Diet, December 14, 2013, Scientific American.
- Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet by Elaine Gloria Gottschall, 1994.
- Management Of Celiac Disease by Sidney Valentine Haas & Merrill Patterson Haas, 2011.
- The Stone Age Diet: Based On In Depth Studies Of Human Ecology And The Diet Of Man by Walter L Voegtlin, 1975.
- The Microbiome Diet: The Scientifically Proven Way to Restore Your Gut Health and Achieve Permanent Weight Loss by Raphael Kellman. 2014.
- Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life, by David Perlmutter, 2015.
- The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health by Justin Sonnenburg, Erica Sonnenburg, Andrew Weil, 2015.
- Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes (TED Books), by Rob Knight, Brendan Buhler. 2015.
- Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues, by Martin J., MD Blaser. 2015.
- The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease, Heal Your Body, by Sarah Ballantyne. 2014.
- Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia, by Natasha Campbell-McBride. 2010.