Some time ago, I did a course called Our Microbiome from the University of Boulder, Colorado and what I learned was so fascinating that I made a video about some of the main points that affect us as IBS sufferers.
I talk about:
- The gut microbiome
- The effectiveness of probiotics for IBS
- The role of faecal transplant in curing C-diff
- The difference between C-section and natural births
Watch the video or read the transcript to learn more.
Transcription of Our Microbiome, Probiotics, Faecal Transplants and C-Section Births
Today, I want to talk to you about the gut microbiome and Probiotics in particular. At the moment, I’m doing a study course called the Gut Microbiome from the University of Boulder in Colorado and I’m learning wonderful things about the Gap Microbiome but I’m also learning that the study is very much in its infancy and although the media has blown way out of proportion how far they’ve come in their studies they, unfortunately, haven’t come that far but there is all sorts of possibilities and potential. They’re still trying to map out all the microbiome in the gut. They haven’t finished doing that – it’s a long and complicated process. And so when we talk about probiotics which are microbes which are getting introduced into the gut, there are very few microbes in those probiotics and most of them just breeze on through the gut and out again and don’t actually colonize themselves in the gut. So the probiotics we have at the moment are pretty much next to useless unfortunately unless you’ve been taking antibiotics for something which kills off the good bacteria as well as the bad and in that case, if you can get the doctor or your chemist to give you a very targeted probiotic that could help to a degree to replace some of those bacteria. For the general person’s microbiome, the probiotics are not going to make any difference and that is exactly the same fortunately with your gut despite all the manufacturers’ claims that there are live microbiomes in there but all the research so far shows that when they’re ingested – they disappear. They don’t actually take up their rightful place in the microbiome or alter anything down there at all. So, have your yogurt because it’s got calcium in it and it’s good for you from that point of view but not because it’s doing anything for your gut. The scientist themselves who are the people who are teaching us about this in the course will admit that it’s very early days and that the manufacturers have just taken great advantage of basically the ignorance of the population and are creating very cheap products that contain very few microbes and they are not doing us any good. Most of them don’t actually hurt but some of them can also hurt.
Next, I’m going to talk briefly about C-Diff, which is one of the bad stomach infections that we can get. It’s one of the microbes, the bacterium that can colonize the gut and cause diarrhea and there are also deaths from it. Again, probiotics will not help that but they have found in several studies that the best solution for it, and get ready for this, is a fecal transplant. The studies they’ve done have shown that with antibiotics less than 30% of infected people are cured whereas those who get a fecal transplant 94% are sorted with the fecal transplant, and that’s incredible. Unfortunately, so far that doesn’t move across into other conditions like IBD or IBS. There have been pretty patchy results with that, but they might get there eventually. The Microbiome consists of about 4,000 different species. It’s an extremely complex system. There are trillions of microbes in there and it’s going to take a long time before we really have our answers for this.
We know though that babies that are born by C-section do not have the same microbes as the baby that’s born in the natural way. In the natural way, if they come out of the vagina, they are populated by the microbes in the vagina and that’s the most natural start for them. They don’t have any of those when they’re born by C-section and when they’re born by C-section they mainly have the microbes from the skin of the mother and from the hospital. They do think though that within a year or two that their gut microbiome is basically the same as a child that’s been born naturally, but it does take time to get there and so they’re more vulnerable during that first year or two of birth.
And the last thing I want to say is about the mother’s breast milk. The mother’s breast milk contains some sugars that are not digested by the baby but are actually food for the microbes in the gut, which is really important for those gut microbes and for the building of a very healthy gut. In cow’s milk and other milk, they don’t seem to exist or certainly not in the same numbers and therefore don’t have the same effect on the baby’s gut. So, breastfeeding is the best start for your baby if you’re able to.
Anyway, I got a little bit off track. The main message of this video is don’t bother with probiotics and don’t eat yogurt for the probiotics, eat it for the other nutrients in it.