Latest Citizen Science experiment – the Microbiome Diet

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Microbiome Diet

So, I’ve been reading and learning a lot about microbiomics lately.  Did you know that there are ten times more microbes of one kind or another than there are human cells in your body?  We really are walking ecosystems.  Medicine is only starting to realise that the ‘blast everything’ antibiotics approach has consequences beyond developing super resistant nasties.

So, having done a course online (University of Colorado via Coursera – ↑) and learnt how incredibly powerful this internal ecosystem in managing just about everything about your body (did you know there’s more seratonin – ‘feel good hormone’ in your gut than in your brain?), I discovered someone had written a book about rebalancing intestinal flora to match the profile of microbes that live in skinny people’s guts.

I kid you not, there are medical practitioners out there who very successfully do this to treat any number of chronic conditions, but they do it via ‘fecal transplant’.  You don’t want to know.  Suffice to say it makes the idea of the oral supplements approach look a lot more attractive.

At the moment, I’m not technically starting from a blank slate, as good experimental method should.  I also have a long term issue with inflammation markers being elevated.  Like, almost 3 times normal elevated, with no apparent cause.  (Stress, maybe? Or something related to perimenopause?)  Since part of this approach involves enzymes which are known to help with inflammation, and there’s cross over with ‘anti-inflammation’ diets becoming popular right now, I’m guinea pigging myself again.

I can’t do the full diet, since I’m vegetarian and it isn’t.  The suggestion is, however, to focus on the supplementation with my normal diet.  Being in Australia, some of the products listed in the book (The Microbiome Diet– from the US , of course) aren’t available, but there’s enough information in there I’ve been able to hunt down substitutes for most of them.  Some sources delivered a lot slower than others, though, so I haven’t had a clean start to taking the full protocols.  Instead, I tracked each of them as I added them in.  Today is day 4 of the full series, with the final two elements arriving at the start of this week.

I’m not going to list all the individual products here, but there are a couple of categories of supplements.

  • The products that reduce or get rid of the microbes not part of the ideal (I hesitate to call them ‘bad’ bacteria because every one has a function and is beneficial in some circumstances, and absence can have negative effects in others.)
  • Products to replace stomach acid (this is actually as simple as cider vinegar, but built up to full dose)
  • Products to replace the full range of enzymes needed for effective digestion (some of these are very hard to source)
  • Probiotics themselves – the microbes you do want put back into the system
  • Prebiotics – the food these microbes need to survive & thrive in there.
  • Products that assist with repairing any intestinal or digestive damage

These are spaced out including 3 sets with meals, one before and one after a meal, and one on an empty stomach last thing at night.  I can tell you that having started the first of the products 20 days ago, and with 4 days on the full protocol, I have come down from 150.6kg to 148.8kg, a loss of 1.8kg (4lb).  I would also recommend not starting this protocol without having a period of at least 4 or 5 days when it’s not going to matter if there’s a lot of, hmm, antisocial noises happening.  😉

Yesterday, however, I experienced a noticeable shift in food tastes.  I woke to find myself wanting high protein food, specifically eggs and legumes, and as the day went on I experienced almost a sense of being reconnected to my appetite.  I felt the level of my hunger as an awareness rather than an urgent signal, and I was aware of what, specifically, I wanted to eat.

For someone who spent their life ignoring their body and starving it in the name of losing weight, this is a major breakthrough.  I ate really well, without feeling I was forcing myself to do it.  When I’d eaten, I was able to forget about food and focus on other things until I chose to act on the levels of hunger that I was feeling, at which point I would again start looking for the things I never normally crave.  I also sweated more (thermogenic) and my sleep has started improving, with fewer wakings through the night and more solid blocks of light, deep and REM sleep (I still have my Zeo to track that).

This is one I’m definitely going to follow through for at least a month of full trial, and am already feeling it making a difference.  With my next blood test tomorrow, I’ll update next week with any changes to the inflammation side of things.

  • Latest Citizen Science experiment – the Microbiome Diet

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