The gut biome

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk
Cried, “Ho! what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up he spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee:
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
“'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope.
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!


So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen.
(The poem has passed into public realm)

I have read Dr. Fung’s Obesity Code, and have listened to several Keto doctors and peaked over my wife’s shoulder when working with her migraine coach. (Coaching worked but the life style changes are difficult to maintain.) I have also been following the Psychedelics research at John Hopkins.

I just finished the first chapter of “Super Gut” by William Davis the author of “Wheat Belly”

The common link in all of these is type II diabetes and eating unprocessed food, or in the case of Dr. Fung, not eating at all. The thing that all of these people change is the gut biome. I seems to me that we are having a “Blind men from Indostan” moment. It is great that we understand there is in fact an elephant in the room, we unfortunately can only see little bits and pieces of it.



The thing that all of these people change is the gut biome.

Watching the flood of TV adverts, does it seem to you that “gut” is the new fad? Seems like everyone is carrying on about “gut health”.

Dr Kellogg had his own theories…which involved yogurt, lots and lots of enemas and yogurt.

Kellogg believed that most disease is alleviated by a change in intestinal flora. He posited that bacteria in the intestines can either help or hinder the body; that pathogenic bacteria produce toxins during the digestion of protein which poison the blood; that a poor diet favors harmful bacteria that can then infect other tissues in the body; that the intestinal flora is changed by diet and is generally changed for the better by a well-balanced vegetarian diet favoring low-protein, laxative, and high-fiber foods. He recommended various regimens of specific foods designed to heal particular ailments.

Kellogg further believed that natural changes in intestinal flora could be sped by enemas seeded with favorable bacteria. He advocated the frequent use of an enema machine to cleanse the bowel with several gallons of water. Water enemas were followed by the administration of a pint of yogurt – half was eaten, the other half was administered by enema, “thus planting the protective germs where they are most needed and may render most effective service.” The yogurt served to replace the intestinal flora of the bowel, creating what Kellogg claimed was a squeaky-clean intestine


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This man from Venezuela can’t vouch for the gut biome, the wheat belly, and the dozens of catchy book titles but this man from Venezuela can vouch that losing 20 kilos or 50 pounds (over a period of two or three years) by eating a healthier diet was enough to cure all his “chronic” diseases like type 2 diabetes to the point that for the past five years he has not needed to take any of the medication that doctors had reassured him were for life.

This man from Venezuela can vouch for “chronic” diseases being much more profitable for the Healthcare Industrial Complex than cures!

History can be a guide. When did the obesity epidemic begin? When half backed pseudo-science convinced the government to tell people what to eat. “Fat is bad!” This unleashed a chain reaction in the AgroIndustrial Food Industrial Complex that brings you the delicacies that guarantee the Healthcare Industrial Complex eternal profits.

The Captain
gained back over 5 kilos or 12 pounds in Portugal, there is so much good stuff to eat! A few weeks ago I purchased gorgeous electronic bathroom scale that is telling me, like the magic mirror, that I’ve shed one or two pounds already!


Like the man from South America, when COVID hit and we ceased our serial traveling (6-10 months a year for a decade), we became directly responsible for the food we were eating. (While we actively avoid “junk” food, when traveling, almost by definition, you eat in lots of restaurants). We both lost weight over the past couple of years - in my case dropping from above 200 pounds (it had peaked earlier at 220) to about 180 pounds. This was not by dieting other than making sure our diets were varied and created by “healthy” ingredients.

We then traveled between January and July 2022 and I put back about 10 of those pounds - 5 of which I’ve shed over the past three weeks.

Since we generally cook with very little salt (I prefer assorted spices instead), I wonder how much water retention shifts the needle.


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Seems like everyone is carrying on about “gut health”

It’s a fancy sciencey sounding hook where weight management is concerned, and that’s for sure…along with insulin and hormone levels and anti inflammatory and whatnot. The popular diet book writers surely love these catch phrases. Straightforward “energy balance”…as complex a topic as it is…is a bit too mundane to sell books etc.

Apart from individual anecdotes and personal testimonials, it doesn’t look too much as if any of them are making a great impact on the Poor Lifestyle Choices epidemic…which makes for sober reading as those of us who’ve actually been good custodians stand and wonder.

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Watching the flood of TV adverts, does it seem to you that “gut” is the new fad? Seems like everyone is carrying on about “gut health”.

There has been a tremendous amount learned about the gut biome in the last 10 years. The diagnostic tools needed to try to understand the small intestine have only become available in the last ten years.

So, yes there is a lot of fad stuff hitting the media on mostly incomplete data. However, the lifestyle changes that all the different gurus tout tend to be beneficial.

Eat real unprocessed food
Avoid sugar.
Eat less often
Sleep when you should
Reduce stress
Avoid unnecessary antibiotics
Avoid alcohol
Eat fiber rich foods

They all have labels.

Intermittent fasting
Keto diet
mediterranean diet
Stop your wheat belly
vegetarian diet

and on and on and on.

These all have positive effects on the gut biome.