All about Gut Microbiome with Robyn Chuter
Today’s guest on IBD Heal is Robyn Chuter and our topic for the show is the gut microbiome! Robyn and Shukul are going to do a deep dive into our gut friends and find out what it takes to create a healthy gut flora. We will also cover some of the dos and don’ts of how diet and medication use can affect our Microbiome.
Free consultation with High Carb Health: https://www.highcarbhealth.com/healthsurvey/
Robyn Chuter is a university-qualified health practitioner, with a Bachelor of Health Science (and the Dean’s Medal for Outstanding Academic Achievement) from the University of New England, a Bachelor of Health Science (Honours) with First Class Honours from Edith Cowan University, and a Diploma of Naturopathy from the Australasian College of Natural Therapies.
She is also an Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner, and proud to be a Fellow of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine.
Robyn has an extensive library of articles on her website about the gut microbiome and we highly recommend you take a look: https://empowertotalhealth.com.au/article-library-gut-microbiome/
The gut microbiome has been the hot topic of scientific research in the last few decades. In fact, the field of gut microbiota research has mushroomed so dramatically, that a scientific paper published in 2018 (https://gut.bmj.com/content/67/9/1716) calculated that over four-fifths of the total number of scientific publications focusing on the gut microbiota over the previous 40 years were published in just four years – 2013-2017.
And now, so many scientific articles on the topic are published every day that it’s impossible to keep up with them all.
In just a few decades, researchers have come to understand that the communities of bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi and viruses that live inside our gastrointestinal tract (our gut microbiota), and their collective genetic material (our gut microbiome) are so vital to healthy function that they constitute a distinct organ of the human body.
Here are just some of the roles played by the 100 trillion microorganisms that populate our gut:
Formation of the gut-associated lymphoid tissue, or GALT (a key component of the immune system in the gut) and ‘training’ of our immune cells to distinguish self from non-self, and friend from foe.
Maintaining the intestinal barrier (i.e. preventing and repairing leaky gut); digesting complex carbohydrates found in human breast milk and plants; producing short-chain fatty acids which feed the cells that line our colon; keeping disease-causing bacteria, yeasts and fungi at bay; regulating muscle movement in the intestinal tract (motility), and protecting against colon cancer.
Regulating serum cholesterol, blood glucose levels and appetite.
Producing vitamins B1, B2, B12 and K, along with biotin, folate and alpha-lipoic acid.
Central nervous system functions:
Stimulating the development of parts of the brain, especially the hippocampus (which plays key roles in motivation, emotion, learning, and memory); and producing chemicals that affect areas of the brain involved in appetite control and food cravings. Enteric nervous system (‘gut brain’) functions: Producing neurotransmitters – chemicals that nerve cells use to talk to each other, and to muscles and glands – including GABA, serotonin and dopamine, and influencing the neuroendocrine cells in the gut that also release these neurotransmitters.
We hope you enjoy our latest episode, eat plants and lots of them!
And welcome to this episode of the podcast.
We’ve got a special guest here.
I’m joined by Robin Tudor, who’s a certified lifestyle medicine
Thanks for having me on.
Robin is very well researched medicine practitioner.
And basically what I want to talk with Robin about today
is the gut microbiome.
And we’re going to talk a lot.
And we’re going to go into detail about some of the research
that’s been published around the microbiome.
What’s the best solution to make sure that you optimize your
microbiome as best as you can?
And also just discuss some of the myths around fiber and
dealing with people who’ve got inflammatory conditions and
how to optimize things probiotics.
We can talk about those a little bit as well.
Again, welcome to the podcast, Robin.
First of all, what would be some of the main things that
when you want to just start talking about the microbiome,
like a macro level before you go into the microsite of things,
what would be the first kind of things that you’d like to
make the audience aware of around the best things to do.
Initially, if you’ve got some form of Dysbiosis or you’re
interested in learning more about the gut and the trillions
of bugs that are in there, what would be some of the things
that you’d like to share around that information?
Such a huge topic.
But I guess starting at that real kind of 60,000 foot view,
there is an ongoing project called the American Gut Project,
and it doesn’t just involve Americans.
People from all over the world can participate in this.
And what the American Gut Project has been doing is collecting
samples of people’s gut microbiota.
I’ll leave it up to your imagination how those samples are
collected. We don’t need to go into that in case anyone’s
eating right now.
But anyway, so they get samples from people and they carry
out an analysis of those samples to find out essentially
what is the composition of that person’s fecal microbiome,
which is perhaps not exactly the same as the gut microbiome,
but it’s about as close as we can get with current technology.
So people send in their samples and they get analyzed genetically.
When people send in their samples, they also have to fill
in and send back a whole range of questionnaires.
And these are really detailed.
Some of the questions would be things like when was the last
time you had antibiotics?
And do you exercise and do you exercise indoors or outdoors?
And were you breastfed?
Were you born through the variance section, all this sort
And they also send in dietary questionnaires.
And again, these are reasonably detailed.
And then using the miracle of big data where you can take
all these kind of ridiculously large numbers of points of
information and then just crunch them using some mindboggling
algorithm and what they can then produce is correlations.
Now, correlation doesn’t equal causation but what they were
looking for, specifically is what diet and or lifestyle factors
show the strongest correlation with a healthy, which means
diverse gut microbiota.
And out of all those data points that they collected from
people and synthesized, there was one that was the strongest
correlation with a healthy gut microbiota.
And that was diversity of whole plant foods.
So specifically, people who ate 30 or more different whole
plant foods per week had the healthiest and most diverse
And that’s really the takehome point, because, as you know,
there has been such a proliferation of books and articles
and podcasts and blogs and whatever the heck else on gut
health, it’s like the topic to Jor the topic of the year
topic of the decade.
Even the ideas on how to cultivate a healthy gut microbiome
are all over the map.
And so we’ve got people saying you should go Carnival and
other people saying you should drink kombucha and other people
saying you shouldn’t eat weight and blah, blah, blah, blah.
And actually, none of that is true.
Eat plants a good variety of whole plant foods 30 or more
in a week, which is actually not really that hard if you
think. Well, okay.
This is how I explain it to my clients, right?
When they’re going 30 in a week, I go, well, okay.
One of the categories of plants, you got fruits, you got
vegetables, you got whole grains, you got legumes and you’ve
got nuts and seeds, and you’ve got herbs and spices and herbs
and spices play a role in each of those 30s, you could add
three or four herbs and spices to a meal.
There’s three or four new plants that you never had in your
diet, and that counts.
And people don’t realize that it does.
So for dinner last night, we had a doll.
And of course, when you make dull, you can put all manner
of spices in.
So I think I know all about Dal.
Robin, of course, I had about eight spices in the dial could
have probably was more like a lot of people put different
types of legumes.
In Dallas, you can put four or five different legumes in
You can put different ten different vegetables in a Dal.
You could have 20 or 30 different plants in one dial.
If you wanted to have your dial say, with rice, we could
do a mix of Brown, black and red rice, because each of those
do count as a different plant.
Because what makes a difference in the plant world is the
different composition of things like polyphenols, which are
That’s what makes your red rice red and your black rice black
and your eggplant skin purple and yada yada.
These are polyphenols.
And so even though rice is rice, black rice is actually different
from a gut microbiome point of view than Brown rice and red
rice is different again.
So you could, in theory, get all your 30 different foods,
If you had a salad, there’s another, like five or six different
things next to that on top of it.
Or you have some condiments with your jar onion salad and
do a banana and coconut sambal.
You could hit 30 in the one meal.
So it’s actually not that difficult to achieve the kind of
dietary diversity that was found in this American gut project.
By the way, I mentioned, you don’t have to be American.
The majority of people who send in samples are American,
but they were collecting samples from people all over the
world, and the same findings held every single time.
So that’s my broad overview.
So what do you need to know about cultivating a healthy gut
microbiome? Eat more plants.
This just keeps coming up again and again.
And all the research people that eat more plants, they do
better. And I guess from a really high level overview, if
you’re watching this or you’re listening to this and you
really want to understand how to improve your gut microbiome.
As Robin said, you just need to eat at least 30.
The more you eat, the better it gets at least 30 different
plant foods a week.
And as we said to you, you can do it in one meal.
So it’s not necessarily really difficult, because if you
haven’t come from a place where you’ve been eating a lot
of plants, then obviously, yes, it can be a bit overwhelming.
But if you actually drill down into it and just say, okay,
how can I make these ingredients interesting?
Look at different recipes.
And before you know it, you can be well into 40, 50 a week
without really trying to absolutely get clients to actually
And many of them.
Once they really begin focusing on this, they will very quickly
realize that they can easily hit 40, 50, 60 or more in a
week. That’s really the first kind of high level overview.
That’s really what should we include for healthy and diverse.
And then the other thing I’d say from a high level is what
should we exclude?
And there are many, many prescription and OvertheCounter
drugs, for that matter that have really adverse effects on
the gut microbiota.
Now, the first one that people kind of think of is antibiotics.
They’re the obvious one.
And, yeah, antibiotics do contribute significantly to Dysbiosis.
So just five days on a broad spectrum antibiotics, the sort
of thing you might get prescribed if you go to the doctor
with a sore throat or your kid has an ear infection, for
instance, five days on one of these reduces the total count
of gut microbiota microbes by about 30%.
Which is very dramatic.
Now, within around 30 days of finishing that course of antibiotics,
the total number of gut microbes will have bounced back to
pretty much the original.
But here’s the role.
The composition changes.
The composition of gut microbes changes after antibiotics
the type of gut microbe that is most able to survive antibiotics
because there are certain bacteria that have a greater capacity
to generate antibiotic resistance.
The bacteria’s class of bacteria.
So they very quickly develop antibiotic resistance.
And so they’re the ones that bounce back.
How about we just go through the different classes?
Because most people won’t understand what a vector or teletype
is while we’re here, why don’t we just talk about that quickly?
So there’s a whole range of sort of levels of classification
So staying at that level that I’m talking about now, probably
the major distinction would be between bachelor’s and Prevotella.
So these are sort of two broad, you might say, families like
big groupings of bacterial species that fall in into this
category be the bacterias or Prevotella.
And on the Western diet.
Or like in people who eat a typical Western diet, the bacteria
to prevatella ratio is higher.
So more bacteria is less Prevotella.
In people who eat a more sort of high fiber say, like a traditional
African diet, where animal products are written as a condiment,
the fiber intake is off the charts, and they have a higher
percentage of Prevotella.
Bacterioides thrives on a diet that is higher in protein
Prevotella thrives on a diet that is higher in carbohydrates,
specifically fiber and fiber like carbohydrates.
So bacteria aren’t bad.
So the types of bacteria that fall into this classification,
they’re not bad.
They’re what’s called pathobios, which means that in appropriate
percentages or appropriate proportions, let’s say, in the
gut microbiota, they’re really handy.
They participate in digestion, and they make some nutrients
And pretty good.
But post antibiotics, the bacteria’s population, as I mentioned,
bounces back faster.
And so you get this higher proportion of bacteria post antibiotics.
And so they start to dominate the pre patella.
And unfortunately, in these sort of excessive proportions,
bacteriotes creates a more inflammatory environment within
the gum and also contributes to insulin resistance.
The more courses of antibiotics people have, the more their
microbiome will shift toward this more bacteria’s dominated
environment with less Prevotella.
This overall pattern has been associated with a higher risk
of the types of diseases that we see are really common in
Metabolic diseases like diabetes and also cardiovascular
disease. And then your area of interest, which is autoimmune
disease and auto inflammatory diseases.
I think it’s very important to really understand when to
take antibiotics and when not to and really be well informed
around because I see a lot of people they’re given antibiotics
on a preventative basis or you’ve had some procedure done,
and now you’ve got to take this antibiotic just because again.
You may prevent something, but it may never happen in the
first place, but now you’ve obviously affected the microbiome,
and it takes a lot of work to bring that back.
You know, there’s a time and a place to use antibiotics.
There are certain conditions where I mean, for example, if
a pregnant woman develops a urine retract infection, although
it’s regrettable she really ought to take antibiotics.
Whereas if a nonpregnant woman develops cumin retract infection,
she can actually manage it at home just with water and Ural.
And this is actually recommended by the Nice guidelines in
Now I’ve forgotten what the acronym Nice stands for, but
it’s kind of like the committee that sets the recommendations
for doctors to follow and they say, yeah, you can get an
antibiotic prescription from your doctor, but not fill it
not stop taking them unless after a couple of days of just
simple home management, your UTI is still there or it’s getting
So in the case of, say, middle ear infections, which would
be the most common, probably the most common reason why kids
get prescribed antibiotics.
And I’ll come back to why kids taking antibiotics is a really
super bad idea.
Again, in the vast majority of cases, there’s no benefit
to giving your child antibiotic for a middle ear infection.
For starters, most of them are viral.
Anyway, they’re a complication of a common cold for seconds.
The most that you’re going to get by giving your kid antibiotics
when they have a Midler infection is about a half a day is
less pain, half a day, right.
And there are other helpful ways to relieve pain from a middle
Why is it so bad if kids get antibiotics, particularly before
the age of three?
Well, when we’re born out, our gut microbiota is almost nonexistent.
There’s a few bugs in there, but not many.
The infant microbiota gets its first kind of seating dose
as the baby comes down the birth canal, hopefully.
And so the baby gets kind of inoculated with the mother’s
vaginal flora, which, by the way, changes significantly in
the final trimester of pregnancy.
So there are significant changes that occur in the normal
vaginal microbiota of a pregnant woman such that her vagina
microbiota actually starts to resemble the gut microbiota
just in that final leg of pregnancy.
It’s even being proposed.
And there is some evidence to support this that the vaginal
microbiota and or the gut microbiota may play a role in signaling
the timing of birth.
In other words, when a woman actually goes into labor, that
may at least influence, if not just outright started by signal
to send by the microbiota, the baby comes down, the birth
canal gets a mouth full of mum’s.
Vagina microbiota swallows it down.
That’s the initial colony of that microbiota.
And then again, hopefully, the baby breastfeeds is actually
a breast milk microbiome.
There are bacteria in breast milk itself, which is sampled
from the mother’s gut and delivered by special white blood
cells to the milk ducts.
No one even knows how this happens.
It’s the most extraordinary thing.
The body is just incredible.
And there’s so much that we just don’t understand.
We can look at it Marvel.
And then, of course, the baby is also getting some microbes
from mom’s skin when the baby is pregnant.
So that all happens.
But the instant gut microbiota is not terribly diverse at
all. By about the age of three, the microbiota of a child
is pretty much adult in composition.
Those first three years of life are really critical.
So taking antibiotics or having your child take antibiotics,
I should say in the first three years of life has a much
more catastrophic impact on the development of their gut
microbiota than taking antibiotics later in life.
So we really want to avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics
at all stages of life, but particularly in the first few
years of life, when your child is sick and the doctor wants
to prescribe antibiotics, like just slow them down and say,
okay, what would happen if my child didn’t take these antibiotics
or if I try to manage this without antibiotics?
What are the things I should look out for?
That would be signs that I should start my child on the antibiotics.
So these are very valid questions to ask.
And obviously, as I say, there are certain circumstances
where antibiotics are absolutely life saving and should be
taken. But that’s not the majority of cases in which they’re
prescribed. Aside from antibiotics, there was actually a
study that was done.
It was published in 2018.
So I made some notes before we started talking.
Actually, in this study, they examined the effects on the
microbiome of over 1000 drugs.
These are drugs that are commonly prescribed.
And they found that 24% of all of these over 1000 drugs inhibited
the growth of at least one species of bacteria that grows
that forms part of the gut microbiota.
Now they were doing this in a petri dish, right.
So we don’t know how this actually works inside the human
gut, but that’s pretty worrying.
Aside from antibiotics, the main class of drugs that they
found, it was just the most destructive in their impact on
the gut microbiotor was antipsychotics.
And so this is a class of drugs that isn’t just prescribed
to people with psychosis like schizophrenia.
They’re actually prescribed a lot to elderly people in nursing
homes to sedate them.
And they’re even prescribed to children who have what has
been diagnosed with ADHD.
And I have a number of clients who were prescribed antipsychotics,
having never had a psychotic episode, but their depression
wasn’t being fixed by regular antidepressants.
So the psychiatrist actually added an antipsychotic.
These drugs are in really common use, and it’s been known
for decades that antipsychotics really impair insulin sensitivity
and therefore increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and
diabetes. And it’s probable that those harmful effects are
mediated by the gut microbiota.
So the antipsychotics affect the gut microbiota, and then
the gut microbiota caused the person to be less insulin sensitive
and therefore prone to developing insulin resistance.
Type two diabetes, any kind of hormonal preparation.
So the oral contraceptive pill, for instance, and an HRT.
These also have really significant impacts on the gut microbiota.
So again, just a couple of numbers here.
Women taking the oral contraceptive pill have three times
of the risk of Crohn’s disease three times higher.
Those who’ve used it in the past but no longer use it have
a 40% higher risk of developing Crohn’s disease than women
never ever used the pill and 71% increase in ulcerative colitis
in postmenopauls of women who were taking HRT.
Okay, so these drugs are in such common use.
Hrt is not as much that used to be very common at HRT, just
about all postman, of course.
So that’s being tamped down, which is great.
But all these women and girls, girls are often taking the
oral contraceptive from almost the time that they first get
And doctors are writing prescriptions for candidate like
Very few of them in my experience talking with clients anyway,
very few of them do a proper review to really assess risk
for individual women in taking the pill, particularly as
it relates to thrombombolic disorders like stroke, that are
much more common in women taking the pill.
So you’ve got all those kind of risks of the pill that have
been known for a long period of time.
And now we’ve got this emerging body of research on the effects
of the aura contraceptive pill and HRT on the gut microbiota.
So in your intro, you mentioned or was it what we’re talking
about before you hit record?
I can’t record.
I know one of the things you wanted to talk about today was
the effect of the gut microbiota on mental health on mood
Once again, use of the oral contraceptive pill has been found
to really quite dramatically increase the prevalence of both
anxiety and depression in women.
And the younger girl is when she starts taking the pill,
the higher the risk that she’ll actually develop anxiety
and or depression.
And once again, there are a lot of mechanisms by which this
could be acting.
But one of them quite likely is the impact as appeal on the
So the foods are eat your plants.
Well, let’s just put it this way.
Really take a good, hard look at any medications that you
are taking or that you’ve been suggested to take.
Are there other better ways of handling whatever fails you
and taking those drugs?
We really looked in on what can create a really beneficial
kind of bacterial composition in our bowel.
And you said the don’ts.
We talked about some of the pharmaceutical don’ts that we
should be looking at.
But there’s another big class of don’ts that straight away
comes to mind, and that’s the food that we eat and obviously,
which can really affect the way your microbiome is composed.
And so let’s just talk about that.
Obviously, we know that anything that comes from an animal
does not contain any fiber, and we start to feed the kind
of bugs that we don’t really want in there.
So let’s just touch on the donts around diet that can affect
the composition of then we know, obviously the byproducts
of that we’ve got hydrogen sulfide production, tribeside,
production, all these kinds of things that happen.
Maybe we’ll just touch on that a little bit as well with
So I mentioned before this sort of, I suppose, general divergence
between the Western gut microbiota and the gut micro that
you find in people eating a more let’s just say traditional
or actually, I would say, evolutionary diet.
And that is something I want to highlight from the get go
is that the diet that humans evolved on was a diet that was
ridiculously high in fiber.
And how do we know this?
Because of the study of what are called copper lifts or paleopoup.
So there are fossilized preserved.
And there are scientists who study fossilized species.
And good luck to them, because there’s a little nation sign
for everyone who’s got, like, weird optics of interest.
And so from analyzing the composition of fossilized human
poop, it’s very, very evident that our primitive ancestors
were eating much more fiber than we currently eat.
The estimates are somewhere in the range of 100 to 150 grams
of fiber per day.
As you know, the average person eating a Western diet is
flat out getting 20 grand a day sometimes.
Not even that.
Yeah, that’s right.
That would be a person who was pretty.
There’s plenty of people eating a lot less than that.
Which explains some of the stories we hear about the infrequency
of people’s bowel movements.
Apparently, there are some people out there who think that
only passing a bowel movement once a week is normal.
And it is not interesting story.
I was talking to a client.
This must be a couple of years ago, but their doctor told
them that it doesn’t matter what your frequency is.
As long as you’re regular and regular to this person was
once every three weeks.
And the doctor said that was completely okay.
Yeah, it’s mind boggling, isn’t it?
I don’t even know what to say about a person with medical
training who thinks that it’s normal to do once every three
weeks, folks, that ain’t normal.
So, yeah, our ancestors were not pooping once every three
weeks, and I reckon they would have gone about three times
a day and just passing these very large bowel motions.
And so why does that matter?
Well, because our physiology evolved in conjunction with
our food supply, as is true for all animal species, animals
end up adapting to the food supply that’s available.
And humans are no exception to that rule.
So we somewhere in the dim duck mist of our evolutionary
history, primitive, like the precursors of humans, essentially
outsourced a big chunk of carbohydrate digestion to gut bacteria.
So we like the human part of our digestive tract, the small
intestine with all of its digestive enzymes, and it’s bile,
and it’s pancreatic juice, and whatever the heck else, we
carry out most of the digestion of proteins that we eat.
There’s a little bacterial fermentation of proteins in the
colon, but we sort of do most of that for ourselves, and
we break down fats for ourselves as well in the small intestine.
But there’s a lot of different types of carbohydrates that
actually escape digestion in the smaller testine, because
humans don’t have the enzymes for them.
We’ve got 27 different carbohydrates enzymes that our genome
codes for and our bacterial genome.
Our microbial genome codes for something in the order of
60,000 different enzymes to break down carbohydrates.
So it was a smart decision, really.
From the point of view of the human genome could be kept
really quite small and complex.
There’s only 23,000 genes in the human genome, which is pretty
small. Rice plants have 44,000 genes in their genome.
And there’s a species of round worm that’s studied a lot
I think it’s about 15,000 genes.
So, in other words, our genome is not all that much bigger
than this little round worm, which is interesting.
So how then did we develop the capacity to adapt to changes
in geography, changes in climate as humans sort of dispersed
out from Africa?
Well, it was actually our microbial genome that gave us the
adaptability to be able to move into these different habitable
or make these different areas habitable.
Whereas most animals have a very narrow range.
Like, you don’t find polar bears outside of the Arctic, and
you don’t find, I don’t know, like rattlesnakes have a particular
geography, geographical location, they’re confined to humans
We’ve spread ourselves all over the globe, and now some of
us actually want to leave it.
And some of us wish they would not come back.
So humans can adapt to all these different places.
And that’s largely because we’ve got this gut microbiota,
which is able to adapt to change far more rapidly than we
can, because humans can sort of replicate themselves, like,
roughly once every 20 years.
It takes 20 years to get to reproductive capacity.
Bacteria can replicate it once every 20 to 30 minutes.
When bacteria replicate, there are very often these little
sort of genetic.
You can call them mutations, but they’re just little mistranscriptions
in how the genetic code copies itself.
And some of these mutations are beneficial to the bacteria’s
survival. And therefore more of those bacteria will replicate
and they’ll come to dominate the environment that they’re
- Okay, so bacteria adapt to a change in environment far
more rapidly than animals like humans, and particularly those
that take a long time to reach sexual maturity.
Like humans, therefore, humans rely on the bacterial genome
to cope with environmental change, including a change in
So there’s our ancestors chowing down on these really high
fiber foods getting these amazingly diverse gut microbiota.
And the microbiota are basically in service to those humans,
right? They’re making the most of carbohydrates that humans
These carbohydrates provide a great food supply to the bacteria.
So the bacteria are thriving.
They’ve got a lovely warm place to live, and there’s always
food in there, so they’re happy.
And then they’re paying the host back by producing vitamins
and producing short chain fatty acids and all this fabulous
stuff. So this is what we see in a person who’s eating a
whole lot of plants.
They’ve got a bunch of basically fiber and other sort of
complex carbohydrate munching bacteria like these Prevotella
species. And they’re down in the colon making all this fabulous
stuff for their host.
There’s one particular substance called butyrate which your
fiber fed gut microbiota is going to make a whole heap of
and butyrate which is a short chain fatty acid.
So it’s a little short fat.
It’s not a really long chain fat, like, say, some of the
Omega three fat.
So a long chain, this is just a couple of little sub components
of fat stuck together, butyrate actually provides for 70%
of the energy needs of the human cells.
The colonosites that line the colon, all the other cells
in your body are mostly reliant.
There is one exception that’s a small intestine.
Most other cells in your body are really reliant on the bloodstream
for providing them with their energy needs.
So they’ve got to have access to the capillary so they can
take up glucose or fatty acids or lactate or whatever they
But your colonocytes are running mostly on, butyrate which
is made by your gut bacteria from fermenting, the certain
types of plant carbohydrates.
So you’ve eaten the plants.
Your human digestive tract has extracted the glucose and
the starches that you need for energy.
The stuff that you can’t digest gets passed on down to the
colon. Your bacteria fermented and produce short chain fatty
acids, which they have no use for.
They’re just a byproduct of bacterial metabolism.
Your colonocytes take up the short chain fatty acids and
use them as fuel.
It’s mind boggling.
Basically, it is a master.
All of nature is.
But like, there’s so many things within us where you just
go, Whoa, that’s pretty mind bending now this.
Butyrate if you are taking in so many of these types of carbohydrates,
that the butyrate production exceeds what your colonocytes
need for their energy requirements.
There are actually specialized transporters in the bowel
wall. So the cells of the bowel wall have these little receptors,
you might say, for short chain fatty acids, including butyrate
so they absorb them, absorb the butyrate pass it through
into the bloodstream.
And now you’ve got butyrate traveling around in your bloodstream.
And it’s a systemic antiinflammatory, because it’s a very
It can even get into the brain.
It can pass the blood brain barrier, which not that many
So it gets into your brain.
It’s an antiinflammatory in your brain.
But on top of that, butyrate actually stimulates the production
of something called BDNF brain derived neurotrophic factor.
Neurologists, or neuroscientists.
Call this miracle growth for your brain.
It actually causes new brain cells to grow, especially in
the hippocampus, the region of the brain that has to do with
memory and emotional processing and of courses, new connections
between neurons to form.
That’s what BD and FDR.
So again, you’re eating all that fiber and resistant starch
and oligosaccharides, the kinds of stuff you find in legumes
vegetables and whole grains and fruits.
And your gut bugs are making out of these types of carbohydrates,
this substance which has affected all through your body.
Oh, butyrate also enhances insulin sensitivity.
So it makes you less likely to develop metabolic disease,
including diabetes, butyrate can also be taken up by the
cells of the small intestine and used to heal the condition
known as leaky gut.
So the butyrate made in the colon is then able to get to
be taken up in the small intestine and to repair the sort
of abnormally high gut permeability that causes symptoms
like inflammation and food intolerance.
And the condition people described as brain fog.
So, yeah, that’s what happens on a plant based diet.
Now, what happens if you’re not eating all that fiber?
So your butyrate producing bacteria, there just aren’t many
of them because there isn’t enough of them to eat.
And instead you’re taking in a whole stack of protein and
fat. So you’re now going to have again, a lot more, more
bacterides and proteobacterial in your colon.
And many of these bacteria are.
So when you eat more protein than you need, the amino acids
from the protein can’t all be absorbed in the small intestine
because it’s just more than the body can actually physically
So you end up with these amino acids and even undigested
proteins down in the colon, there are bacteria that carry
out a fermentation process of undigested protein.
It’s just that in the case of protein fermentation, the term
that’s applied to that is putrefaction, which is about as
appealing as it sounds.
And there are some dead, nasty compounds that get produced
from this putrefaction.
There’s this one called putrecine.
There’s another one called cadaverine, as in cadavers, like
dead body part.
So that’s meat.
That’s what’s in your colon.
So, yeah, like putrefaction products.
That’s what’s in your colon when you eat meat.
Oh, my goodness.
So what do these do?
Well, they’re very proinflammatory then.
Of course, when you have a high fat intake again, the fat
can’t all be absorbed in the small intestines.
So some of it is going to end up down in the colon.
And there are certain bacterial species that will carry out
processes on fat.
But the other thing is that a high fat diet causes the release
of more bile.
Bile is an emulsifier like a detergent for those of you who
haven’t discovered the joys of oil free cooking and are still
using oil in your cooking, you’ll know that when you go to
wash up your pots and pans that you’ve used oilyn, you’ve
got to use detergent, because otherwise you can’t get all
the fatty stuff, all the residues off your plates and your
pots and pans.
Because fats are not water soluble.
So when you’re washing up, you got to use a detergent.
So bile is like a detergent.
It’s made in your liver, stored in your gallbladder, and
it gets squirted out into small intestine.
When you eat a meal that contains fat and BIOS are useful.
It emulsifies fat in the small intestine.
This allows us to take up the components of fat that we need
and also fat soluble vitamins vitamins A-D-E, and K.
That’s all fine.
But then that bile, some of it gets reabsorbed at the end
of the small intestine.
But if you’ve had a lot of bile release, not all of it will
So now some of that bile is down in your colon.
And there are bacteria that actually eat bile.
Again, bacteria are highly adaptable.
These bile eating species, they’re called bilophilic lovers
And one of them is called bilefila woodsworthia.
So it’s a bilateral bacteria named by a bloke called Woodsworth
because apparently blokes like to have bugs named after them.
There’s a whole lot of gut bugs that are named after Blokes.
I could be wrong.
If anyone’s got a suggestion as to a gut bug named after
a check, they all seem to be named after Blokes.
I find this interesting.
Why do blokes want bugs found in people’s colons named after
Okay, so this bio filler was worthy.
There’s also a bunch of bacteria called the sulfur Vibrio
that’s a family of bacteria that eat bile.
And you mentioned hydrogen sulfide before.
So hydrogen sulfide gas is actually made by these bileading
bacteria in the process of digesting the bile.
Hydrogen sulfide, as I’m sure you know, given your major
area of interest is a contributing cause of ulcerative colitis.
High levels of hydrogen sulfide and high counts of the bacteria
that produce them have also been found in the bowels of people
who get cholerctal cancer.
So, I mean, no surprise.
This is an inflammatory substance causes damage to the cells.
Yes, it does.
The other thing is that hydrogen sulfide gas causes the condition
known as visceral hypersensitivity.
So leaving the topic of inflammatory bowel disease for a
second, which is your Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, as
you know, then we’ve got this other category of very common
gut problem called IBS, or iridor bowel syndrome, which is
part of a group of conditions called functional gastrointestinal
disturbances or disorders.
So there’s no structural damage to the gut like you see on
a colonoscopy with a person with Crohn’s, or you see the
inside of the gut is all angry and red, and it’s ulcers,
and it’s bleeding, and it’s a mess.
In IBS, there’s no obvious structural change, but the person
is getting abdominal pain, they’re getting bloating, they’re
getting diarrhea or confirmation or both swinging back and
forth between them.
And the hallmark of IBS is visceral hypersensitivity.
It’s like a communication breakdown between the brain and
the gut brain.
And this hydrogen sulfide gas actually causes to the communication
breakdown that results in visceral hypersensitivity.
So that’s what happens when you get off the diet that humans
evolved on like this really plant rich, fiber rich diet.
And you go on to the typical Western diet, getting around
40% of your calories from animal products, which, as you
mentioned before, quite rightly, have zero fiber, but they
do have a lot of protein and a lot of fat, some more than
others. Of course, the other hallmark of the Western diet
is processed food, carbohydrates and plant foods that have
been stripped of their fiber and their fiber chemicals.
And whatnot all you’ve got left is sugar.
They’re also filled with all sorts of things melted extra
All these things that of big alarm signals, putting those
things into your gut.
Oh, my goodness.
Like you’re probably familiar with the research on nanoparticles
Nanoparticles of titanium, for instance, which is found processed
are added there for reasons of appearance, primarily because
processed food looks pretty disgusting when it comes out
of the extruder.
So you’ve got to add something to it.
Otherwise, people would go gross.
But it’d be like, have you seen the movie Silent Green?
I haven’t no.
It’s very dystopian.
Let’s just put it that way.
The plebes eat this basically like just this extruded food.
It looks a bit like Dong kipple, but slightly bigger.
Yeah, that’s essentially what you’re seeing in soil and green
is pretty much what processed food is.
It’s just got, like, prettier colors, what they do to salmon
fish and factory farming, how they dye the color of the flesh
to make it look more appealing.
Otherwise it’s great and no one doesn’t look good.
They actually have these colors fortunes a lot.
Like when you go to Rosen has them, you can just say which
color do I want my fish to be?
I’ve seen that that should make people think about whether
they ought to be absolutely getting back onto those bugs.
So yeah, obviously, what we’re doing when we’re feeding the
bugs that we don’t want, we’re increasing their populations,
And then they’re the ones that start to become the dominant
species in our bowel.
We get dysbiosis, and they cause all sorts of havoc, which
then down the line leads to our problems with the gut, whether
it’s IBS, whether it’s IBD.
Even primarily monoxide with heart disease.
And the link is very strong links there.
So it’s amazing.
Amazing how you don’t realize that food that you’re eating
and the dysbiosis that you’re causing with that has so many
flow on effects that probably can’t incomprehend just by
eating that one meal you mentioned.
There the kind of longer term consequences like this is what
happens to people when they’re eating this diet day after
day, week after week, month after month, year after year.
But the consequences can be far more immediate than that
in that, what you eat is going to be down in your colon within,
say, three or 4 hours of having eaten it.
And then you’ve got bacteria living in your colon that actually
make neurotransmitters and also bacteria living in your column
that influence the cells within the gut that make neurotransmitters.
And while the serotonin and the Gabba and the noradrenaline
that are made by gut bacteria and made and released by human
cells in the gut don’t actually cross the blood brain barrier
and into your brain.
They do affect the vagus nerve, which is like the Ethernet
cable between your two brains.
And so, for instance, in people who have eaten a very high
fat diet, there is an increase in endotoxin in their bloodstream
within a few hours.
So endotoxin is like a component of the cell wall of certain
types of bacteria they call gram negative.
So fat actually, particularly saturated fat actually ferries
endotoxin across the gut wall and into the bloodstream.
And if you actually hopefully with the person’s permission
experimentally inject endotoxin into a person’s bloodstream,
they experience anxiety.
So when people feel horrible day to day, they’re feeling
anxious and they’ve got low mood.
There are many reasons why a person can experience anxiety
and depression, obviously.
And there’s a lot going on in people’s lives, especially
now. So I’m not saying that what you eat is the sole arbiter
of how you feel.
But it has a really big impact.
And the research on the link between food and mood, which
really only got going in earnest.
I would say maybe ten years ago that research is really starting
to pick up.
And there is no doubt that when people eat a more whole food
diet, they experience less anxiety and mood.
There’s a lot of mechanisms for that.
But one of them, once again, is the gut microbiota.
So it’s not just, oh, if you keep eating this rubbish, you
might get colorectal cancer in 20 years.
When you eat that hyperprocessed, that ultra processed, hyper
palatable, big Mac fries and a thick shake, you’re actually
going to be pretty Yuck within hours of eating.
Short term negative effects and long term negative effects.
I mean, I guess it’s just misinformation disinformation around
not understanding that these foods can be so harmful to your
health. And if people really understood this information,
which is why we’re so keen to share it, isn’t it, Robert?
People really understood what the stuff was doing to them.
They wouldn’t touch it, wouldn’t get anywhere near it.
But they’re just told any more than if you had a bottle of
bottle marked Poison sitting on your coffee table.
Not going to go heck, I think I might have a swig of this,
no matter how good it tastes.
But as you know, the food industry is enormously profitable.
And there’s a great book called Salt Sugarfat by Michael
Moss, who is an investigative reporter.
And he has a new book out called Hooked, which I must confess,
I haven’t read yet, but I can’t wait.
But if you read his books, Salt Sugar fat.
Michael Moss actually got access to fairly high levels of
a number of multinational food corporations.
And so he was actually able to go to the labs where they
design these foods and whatnot and read the book.
Let me just summarize, they spend wads of money getting the
composition of these foods just right.
They employed psychologists and food technologists.
They spend unbelievable amounts of money before they ever
bring a product to market.
Just tweaking every last aspect of that food in terms of
how much salt, how much sugar, how much fat, how much of
this that and the other do we add for the right degree of
crunch or what they call the bliss point, which is the point
of sweetness where people go, wow, that’s amazing.
But it hasn’t crossed the line into that’s kind of sickly.
So these products are addictive.
They don’t like to use that word.
It’s a word that they stay away from.
And I guess that’s why Michael Moss recent book is called
Hooked. These foods are actually crafted to be addictive.
And for all those people out there who are going, okay, I
hear what you say.
But, man, I just can’t give up my chips or whenever I walk
past Burgicking, I just can’t not go in.
Yeah, I get it right.
You’ve been hooked.
Your gut micro better play a role in that, too.
Just saying, right.
The evidence on food cravings and gut microbes isn’t as watertight
as some people like to make out.
But there is some evidence that who you have living in your
colon contributes to what kinds of foods you enjoy.
And I guess you can see that through experience.
Can’t you see someone who I’m sure you’ve worked with hundreds
of people like this, where they’ve been hooked on junk foods
and fast foods and things like that.
And as they start to change their diet after the obviously
the withdrawal period, everyone has to go through.
And you’re addicted to something.
And they start getting healthier.
And they should get shifts in their gut bacteria.
And they start eating more fruits and vegetables and whole
They started craving more.
I’ll tell you, I’m a perfect example of that.
I used to be hooked on KFC and McDonald’s and chocolates
and soft drinks and all those things.
But now the thought of eating some of that stuff, you give
me a mango.
Yeah, I know, right?
It’s so funny.
I was that person in my teens.
I was that person who if I walk past the cheesecake shop,
I’d be like, your face pressed up against the glasses, going,
like, give me one of everything.
And now I look at those foods and Michael Pollan’s phrase,
edible food like substances brings to mind.
I look at those things.
They actually don’t look like food to me anymore.
And sometimes I kind of catch myself and go, oh, this is
Those, again, edible food like substances, because I don’t
think we should glorify them by the name food.
They actually have no appeal.
But let me loosen a fruit and feed shop.
And I’m a crazy woman.
I’m running around going, this is interesting.
How about we try to call Rabbi?
Now, just as we kind of finish off, I just want to touch
on this one point that’s been kind of publicized quite a
lot in the community around the gut, microbiome and things
And that’s SIBO.
Because I think there’s a lot of misinformation around SIBO,
and there’s a lot of people trying to make you think that
SIBO is more than what it actually is.
And so why don’t you just talk a little bit about what it
is and what the science says about it and what we can do
Because I think there’s a lot of noise around the SIBO thing
where it’s more confusing than anything.
It shouldn’t be 100% agree.
The first thing to say is that SIBO remains a contentious
topic. And within the field of gastroenterology, there are
gastroenterologists who I wouldn’t say deny that it exists,
but say that it is exceptionally rare and it really only
occurs in, say, blind loop syndrome.
So people who’ve had, for example, surgery on their intestines
for disease, and that other than that, it’s not really a
thing. And then you’ve got gastroenterologists who say, look,
somewhere anywhere up to 80% of people with IBS actually
These include very prominent gastroenterologists.
What is the average person to make of that?
Okay, SIBO, which is for your audience, small intestinal
So this means a higher total count of bacteria in the small
intestine. Remembering that the colon, the large intestine
is where the bulk of our bugs live.
So we’ve got 100 trillion odd bugs living in the colon.
The small intestine has bacteria, but not nearly the same
concentration as the colon.
So the definition of SIBO is any more than 10,000 bacteria.
If my memory serves me correctly, I think it’s more than
10,000 bacteria per milicluid in the lower part of the small
intestine, the terminal ileum.
But it’s not just an overgrowth.
It’s actually a dysbiosis.
So SIBO is a diphotic condition.
So bad bugs growing in your small intestine and too many
So SIBO does exist, and I have actually seen cases of it.
There are certain conditions for example, hypothhorotism
and diabetes, and also endometriosis that do predispose people
to having an overgrowth of bacteria in their small intestine
because the mechanisms that normally help flush excess bacteria
out of the gut aren’t working so well in those conditions.
And then there are people who have actually suffered damage
to what’s called the migrating motor complex, also known
as the cleansing wave and the small intestine because they’ve
had a really bad bout of gastroenteritis, like they got barley
belly or monozuma’s revenge, or one of the weird and wonderful
if you pick up while backpacking in Southeast Asia and they
actually have an autoimmune reaction as part of their immune
defense against the bacteria.
Long story short, they end up with like, a damaged clearance
mechanism. Placebo does exist.
I’m absolutely sure that is wildly over diagnosed, and pretty
much anyone who suffers bloating or gas or gets some loose
stools will often either self diagnose because they came
across a website talking about SIBO, or they get diagnosed
by practitioners with having SIBO.
And they’re then put on either herbal antimicrobials or antibiotics,
and very often, more often than not, they’re told that they
need to eat a diet that is restricted in carbohydrates.
So a low fold map diet or the biphasic diet or whatever.
And this is really nonsense because the characterization
of this dysbiotic small intestine is not complete.
But there have been some preliminary studies, and what they
show is that the types of bacteria that overgrow in SIBO
actually don’t ferment or break down fiber and oligosaccharides
and the other carbohydrates that are excluded in these diets,
like low fold map and biphasic and so forth.
There is no rational reason to exclude those foods from the
dining people with SIBO, except that they may have some discomfort
if they eat those foods and those foods undergo the normal
process of fermentation and the colon because they have visceral
So it’s not that the fermentation and the resulting gas formation
from these carbohydrates is harmful.
It’s meant to happen.
It’s just that these people are hypersensitive to the normal
degree of stretch and the normal muscle movement that takes
place in the intestine when we eat those foods and our bugs
So does the exist?
Is it over diagnosed?
Is it appropriate to treat it aggressively with antibiotics
I wouldn’t sort of take that off the table entirely.
There may be some cases where that’s warranted, but on the
whole, those treatments are widely overused.
Is it appropriate to treat it with a carbohydrate restricted
I think that kind of covers it.
I think we’ve talked a lot and covered a lot of ground there,
and obviously we haven’t covered everything overwhelmed your
I think this is exactly the kind of topic my audience or
our audience would love to hear and understand more of because
there’s a huge amount of noise around it.
And I think just having explained all the different aspects
of it and just talking through the stuff that we obviously
know, but just to kind of make it more clear and understandable
and just share that information, because unless you go diving
into the research, you’re not really going to find it that
easily. And you’re not going to find medical professionals
at this point in time, sharing it readily or being aware
of it even which is, I guess, even worse.
To your point, a friend of mine who quite recently graduated
from medicine in South Australia, she told me that in her
medical degree, they did not even look at the gut microbiome,
and it’s been observed by researchers on medical curriculum.
It takes about 17 years for medical discoveries to actually
make their way into the medical curriculum.
So your doctor is actually 17 years behind the eight ball,
which is really but that depends on when they graduated too.
You know what I mean?
If they graduated 40 years ago, they’re 60 years, like kept
Unfortunately, they do do a good amount of, I guess, professional
development, but a lot of it isn’t actually there’s very
little continuing medical education that focuses on nutrition
and exercise and mind body.
Yeah, it’s all about drugs, mostly most of the I guess the
medical conference is all about this drug for the symptom
latest greatest treatment machine that goes whatever.
Have you the 60 is behind on the research and all the I guess
development they’ve done is based on medicines, rather than
actually looking at root causes of what’s going on.
And so you’re not really going to get the latest and greatest
from your medical professional.
Obviously, there are some very good ones that are up to date,
but I don’t think it’s the vast majority.
Zach Bush legendary.
There are some fantastic doctors who have taken a really
deep dive into this, and they’re helping not just their own
patients, but they’re really getting it out there using the
platform of being a medical doctor.
Affords them exactly.
People do need to take responsibility for their own health
and not assume that their doctor knows all this stuff.
It is challenging to do that in the west of the internet,
as you know, where there are a lot of people who make themselves
out to be experts, and they’re really not.
So it’s difficult for the average person to navigate that
As you know, I do write a weekly newsletter, and if you want
to put a link to my I’ll do that article in the show notes,
you can actually just directly to the page of my article
library, which has to do with everything gut related.
I’ll do that.
I’ll definitely link that, like, 30 articles on there.
So if you want to find out more detail about any of the things
that we’ve discussed, I’ve written an article on it.
Yes, you have and it’s very well researched.
It’s not really a shameless plug, Robin, you do some amazing
work and Robin is very thorough.
Which is why I’ve got her on here to discuss this with you
because she dives deep.
She just doesn’t look at the surface and she will really
look at that.
I put the links into all the studies.
Everything I write is like 50,000 hyperlinks in there so
you can go into those studies and look at it for yourself,
which I really recommend that people do, because again, absolutely.
You have to be responsible for your health and wellbeing.
And we’ve always said Shami, and I always say, don’t just
believe it because it comes from our mouth.
Look into it is what we’re saying, actually, right.
Look at the research.
Look at the evidence just because someone says, don’t ever
just believe them.
I think that’s really important for anyone who is sharing
information on the internet to make it really clear that
just because I said it, don’t just believe it, because it’s
me that’s you always make sure you double check it, check
the references, check the information and check that it makes
sense. Yes, that’s it.
It doesn’t make sense.
That’s really important.
All right, Robyn, thank you so much for taking the time
and sharing this absolute pleasure.
It’s always lovely to discuss all different health topics
I think the audience would really appreciate that.
And to everyone who’s either listening or watching this,
thanks for making it this far.
I really appreciate you taking the time and it’s going to
help you understand your body, better understand what to
do to help you get healthier.
And we’re all about trying to share as much information as
we can on our platforms to help you become healthy, because
that’s the main thing.
It’s not about us.
It’s about you getting healthier, taking control of your
health and being responsible for it.
So use the information that we shared here with you today
and eat a lot more plants and eat as many diverse plants
as you can.
Obviously, if you’re suffering from digestive issues, maybe
you can’t quite diversify your diet straight away.
So someone talk to Rob and talk to us about how you can incorporate
and what you can incorporate, given your current situation.
So never just jump to it to 100% if you’ve got some digestive
problems. But if you don’t, yes, 100% agree on that.
Very uncomfortable if they suddenly ramp up your fiber intake.
Don’t go from zero to zero with your five or intake.
But as I said, look, if you’re listening to this and you’ve
really found this interesting, please share it.
Share it on your Facebook page or your different social media
aspects. Lots of people can learn from this information.
And if you’re listening to this on the podcast, subscribe
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Hit the subscribe button and the little Bell notification
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Also, if you have any questions, there’s a comment section
So ask away and we’ll do our best to answer.
Once again, Robin, thank you so much for joining us and for
Make sure you eat plants.
Lots of fun.
At your plants.