The gut microbiota is the world of bacteria that live in your gut. We have learned a lot about the gut microbiota over the past few years as research here has exploded. This invites the question, “Will we discover a miracle cure bacterium?” It appears that context may be a very important factor in determining if a bacterium helps you or hurts you. Let’s look at a recent study that elaborates on this.
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Dr. Michael Ruscio: This is Dr. Ruscio. And let’s discuss the Microbiota Miracle. You’ve likely heard a lot about the microbiota. The gut microbiota, what we’ll be talking about in this video here briefly, is essentially the world of bacteria that live in your gut.
And we’ve been learning so much about the gut microbiota and how the microbiota correlates with many diseases. And if the health of your gut microbiota is off, that may even cause disease. And certainly, the importance of your gut has an incredible impact on your health. But there’s more to it.
And in many cases, I think what we’re reaching for is a miracle bacteria. And I want to just provide this short video to show people why my position is very skeptical of the miracle bacteria type of claims that you may hear and just urge you to be a little bit careful before jumping into some kind of intervention or testing that promises a miracle bacteria cure, because as we’re learning more about the microbiota—and I think if we look at the microbiota research with a conservative, cautious, and discerning eye, we see that rarely is there a miracle bacteria that can just be this cure to obesity or what have you.
Now, certainly, if there is an infectious agent or some type of well-defined overgrowth like SIBO or like a pathogenic amoeba, something that a good clinician would clearly want to move on, then that should be addressed. However, again as we’re getting more into this world of the microbiota, we’re looking for miracle cures, as I think is just kind of an impulse that we all have. And I think these are much rarer.
So there recently was a study done looking at a type of bacteria called Prevotellla, and specifically the type of Prevotella was Prevotella copri DMS. I think it was 18205—so a very specific strain of Prevotella. And what was interesting here is that when this was transplanted into one group of mice, this actually showed the ability to improve glucose levels.
So this suggests it may help with things like diabetes. However, when transplanted into a different group of mice, it actually caused arthritis. Also, when this same bacteria was transferred into mice that had been previously given antibiotics, they formed colitis or inflammation in the intestines.
So we see the same bacteria acting in very different ways in different contexts, which supports what I think is the most practical approach for trying to improve your microbiota health and therefore your overall health, which would be focusing on having the best environment because the environment seems to be a strong dictator of how certain bacteria act.
H. pylori may be a nice example of this. H. pylori is a bacteria that resides in the stomach. And we have been trying to eradicate H. pylori previously. But I think a more contemporary view on H. pylori is not to eradicate it but rather to attempt to rebalance the ecosystem.
And I think this holds true for many different issues in the gut—candida, for example. There are strands of candida that are native to the gut. However, it’s not uncommon for someone to see a candidal overgrowth after an antibiotic that wipes out a lot of bacteria. Those bacteria should be kind of keeping the candida in check and preventing them from overgrowing. But when too many bacteria die from an antibiotic, then we can see the lack of regulation of the ecosystem. And then the candida can overgrow and then cause problems.
So it’s not so much an issue of this bacteria holds the key to weight loss. I think it’s more so a working toward trying to re-establish the healthiest balance in your ecosystem of your gut. And a lot of this comes down to dietary and lifestyle principles like we’ve talked about before.
And then the second item I would add on top of that would be working with a very skilled clinician in gastrointestinal work and working to sort through any imbalances—SIBO, candida, inflammation, H. pylori—and really trying to work to clear out anything that shouldn’t be there and then support the healthiest environment.
And that looks different for different people. Some people do better on a low-carb diet. Some people do better on a high-carb diet. Some people do better on lots of vegetables. Some people can’t tolerate lots of vegetables and they need a little bit lower of an insoluble fiber diet. So there are differences there in how to successfully manage one’s ecosystem. But getting that right is a very important part of the whole process. I’ll be putting together and I’m working on a self-help way of [dictation cuts off].
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What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.
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