“If you don’t like bacteria, you’re on the wrong planet.” – Stewart Brand
You came here looking for information regarding health and fitness, correct? Well, I’m about to reveal the secret to unlocking many of the mysteries surrounding your health, happiness, physical and mental performance. The answers you seek lie within… In your poop, to be exact.
By now, if you’ve never heard anything about gut bacteria, it’s time for you to crawl out from underneath your rock and learn a thing or two. The human body is host to an incredible number of bacterial cells. In fact, when you realize just how many bacterial cells we have in and on our bodies, it’s kind of hard to even call us “human” at all. According to the latest research, microbiologists have confirmed that there are approximately ten times as many bacterial cells as there are human cells in our bodies. Put another way: about 90% of the cells in your body are not yours, they are your microbes’.
Quick lesson, a microbe is a microscopic life form. There are many different types of microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, mites, etc. A simple Google search could teach you that the Human Genome (1) is a collection of all of the genes in a human. Well, we also have something called the Human Microbiome (2), which is a collection of all of the genes in all of our microbes. There are microbes on every square inch of your body, and different types of microbes thrive in different environments of the body. For instance, a species of microbes that may thrive on the skin of your forearm may not be able to survive in the environment inside of your mouth.
For the sake of this article, we are going to focus on the microbes that live in your gut and digestive tract. Why? Because your gut microbiome just might play the single biggest role in determining your overall health and human performance!With all the information floating around, there doesn’t seem to be any consensus as to what would be the “ideal” gut microbiome. That being said, there are a few general rules that the experts have accepted as truths when it comes to changing your health for the better by manipulating the gut microbiome:
With all the information floating around, there doesn’t seem to be any consensus as to what would be the “ideal” gut microbiome. That being said, there are a few general rules that the experts have accepted as truths when it comes to changing your health for the better by manipulating the gut microbiome:
- Diversity is a good thing!
- A healthy gut microbiome should contain an extremely diverse community of countless strains of bacteria.
- There are two predominant families of bacteria:
- Firmicutes – generally found in excess in the guts of obese humans.
- Bacteroidetes – generally found in excess in the guts of lean humans.
- Probiotics are actual bacteria:
- You can ingest “good” bacteria in the form of probiotics. These are found in cultured and fermented foods and probiotic supplements. Getting them is only half the battle. They must be properly fed to remain healthy. Enter: Prebiotics.
- Prebiotics are the food that feeds your bacteria:
- Dietary fiber is the key to feeding Bacteroidetes, which cannot be found in probiotic supplements.
- All fiber is not created equal!
- Fiber is a is a carbohydrate found in plant foods that the human body cannot digest.
- Fiber contributes no calories or food energy, so there’s really no way you can eat too much of it!
- By definition, prebiotic fiber is fiber that does not get digested in the stomach or the upper intestine and remains available for health providing properties by the time it reaches the colon. The human body does not digest it, but your friendly little microbes feast upon it!
Ok, so you’ve just been given the cliff notes on your gut microbiome. So, what now? How can you even know if your gut microbiome is healthy? Well, this is where “The Power Of Poop” comes in! We live in a glorious time of advanced technologies that have allowed us to explore the human body in ways we never previously thought possible. Scientists have developed techniques that allow them to identify the specific strains of bacteria in found in your unique gut microbiome by analyzing fecal samples. Not only is this possible, but it’s also readily available to the public at a very affordable price! Companies like uBiota, uBiome, and American Gut (actually a research project) offer analysis of your poop for $100 or less.
Personally, I went with “uBiome,” and the entire process could not have been more painless. Just visit, www.ubiome.com and order a “Gut Kit.” A one-time purchase is $89, and your kit will be shipped to your doorstep. The kit includes detailed, yet very simple instructions for collecting a tiny sample of your fecal matter. Trust me; the process is not nearly as unpleasant as you may be picturing. Just follow the instructions and mail your sample back to uBiome. In a few weeks time, you will get the results from your sample and can begin exploring all of the bacteria found in your microbiome!
Once you receive your results, the real genius of uBiome is revealed. Their interactive dashboard allows you to not only explore the types of bacteria found in your gut, but it also educates you on the specific functions of each strain. You can even compare your results with a huge population of others who have used uBiome in the past.
Here’s a random example: You can get a basic Wellness Score based on your sample compared to samples collected from healthy populations with no ailments and high levels of wellness:
This next image details how likely I am to maintain a healthy weight based on the contents of my gut microbiome:
My diet, while it changes daily based on my physical output and training schedule, would most closely resemble The Paleo Diet. For that reason, I have a pretty healthy ratio of Firmicutes vs. Bacteroidetes in my microbiome. That said, thanks to my Eastern European genetics, I have always stored a small amount of excess fat in my lower abdominals. At 29 years old, I had pretty much just accepted that this would always be the case. But after my experience with uBiome, I had the feeling that maybe I had inadvertently stumbled upon the secret to solving my problem once and for all: my Bacteroidetes!
Some research has shown that obese humans tend to have a gut microbiome that is dominated by Firmicutes and is deficient in Bacteroidetes. This could be the reason why so many obese people often fail when trying to lose weight with “fad” diets. If they do not fix their unhealthy microbiome, they will not see the results they desire in the long-term from any diet.
On the flip side, lean humans tend to have a gut microbiome that is dominated by Bacteroidetes and far less Firmicutes. Think about it, we all have that one friend who could literally eat cheeseburgers all day and still maintain an effortless six-pack. It is my personal belief that Bacteroidetes are the key factor that allows those people to stay lean.
So what does all of this mean? The bad news is that the typical Western Diet is horrible for the health of your gut microbiome. The average American does not get anywhere near the amount of prebiotic fiber they need to help Bacteroidetes flourish. The good news is that you can implement simple dietary changes today and begin to change the ratio of your gut microbiome in as little as 48 hours! Just with the information provided in this article, you can work towards changing your gut microbiome for the better. Here’s how:
- Eat fermented foods daily:
- Sauerkraut – I like to mix a couple of tablespoons into scrambled eggs. Delicious!
- Kombucha – You can also explore the process of making your own Kombucha at home!
- Eat more prebiotic fiber:
- It's no coincidence that you'll find prebiotics in The Perfect Paleo Powder. Just 1 serving contains 3 grams of prebiotic dietary fiber!
- Leeks – Sautee lightly in a skillet with a bit of grass-fed butter for a delicious addition to almost any meal!
- Resistant Starches, such as Potato Starch (4) (up to 1 tablespoon per day)
- Eat more healthy fats:
- Grass-fed Butter/ Coconut Oil – Cook your meals in either of these.
- Wild-Caught Salmon (Also consider an Omega-3 supplement) (5)
- Cold-pressed, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Consider a daily Probiotic:
- I recommend one of the following:
That’s it. Seriously, it’s that simple.
As I studied the results of my gut kit, I realized that while my own microbiome seemed to be pretty healthy, I still had slightly more Firmicutes than I did Bacteroidetes. I set out to see what would happen to my body composition, namely my body fat percentage if I implemented specific dietary changes in hopes of tipping the scale in favor of Bacteroidetes.
It’s an unscientific study for sure, and while there are a number of factors that could be contributing, the introduction of fermented foods, a probiotic, and large quantities of prebiotic fiber to my daily diet has produced dramatic results in my physique. My lower abs are more defined and I shed a grand total of 3% body fat in a matter of weeks! In all of my years of training, I have never experienced such drastic results in such a short period of time. So Bacteroidetes are my new best friends and I intend to keep feeding them well!
- Human Genome – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_genome
- Human Microbiome – http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/microbiome/
- The Perfect Paleo Powder – https://clovis.store/collections/frontpage
- Potato Starch – http://amzn.to/2dllDeW
- Krill Oil Omega 3 – http://amzn.to/2dmSoW3