Your Personalized Nutrition Courtesy of 100 Trillion Bacteria
You will soon be able to easily get your personalized nutrition plan designed for your very own uniqueness. No more “hit or miss”, “trials and tribulations” or confusion. Learn now what a brand new study about your microbiota and blood sugar reveals.
THE DAY is soon coming when we can each have our own personalized nutrition plan. The right foods and supplements for us will no longer be hit or miss. We’ll know precisely what we need, and how we’ll react to it.
Today, there’s a hodgepodge of ways to drill down to what are the best foods and supplements for you. You can get there by the process of elimination, often the technique advocated for people who may have adverse effects to gluten, for instance. The process here is to eliminate various gluten-packed foods from your diet and see if you feel better.
Personalized nutrition can also be designed guided by the results of genetic tests that measure various DNA-based biomarkers, such as Apolipoprotein E, (“ApoE”), but such a test is hard to find and interpret.
I wrote about ApoE in What the Heck is ApoE and Why Does it Reveal Your Perfect Diet?, where the following table is explained:
Wouldn’t it be good to know which is true for you?
Pamela McDonald wrote a book about it, but it’s not like you can step into your doctor’s office and order up an ApoE test.
Now, courtesy of the Weizmann Institute, we know of one more way to get to the bottom of your ideal personalized nutrition plan, and it’s basically based upon what comes out of your bottom.
Watch the following video that summarizes the newly published Weizmann Institute of Science study on personalized nutrition, and then read on…
Let’s dig into what you just watched. After that, I’ll indicate what you can do to benefit by this new angle on personalized nutrition.
What To Know About Blood Sugar and Carbs
If you didn’t know it before, after having watched the video you now know that carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars, and then are absorbed from our intestine into the blood stream.
How high your blood sugar goes after eating and drinking, and for how long it stays elevated is a big determinant of your health and propensity for various chronic illnesses.
You blood sugar level is a key factor that affects the pathogenesis of diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. (1)
If you have high blood sugar, your health practitioner will undoubtedly exhort you to eat differently, particularly as it relates to the type of carbohydrate consumes.
Diets that seek to control for blood sugar are typically very similar in that they seek to emphasize moderate amounts of carbohydrates and recommend that they be “complex carbs”, because they are absorbed more slowly into the blood stream than “simple” carbs, and thereby require less insulin to be produced.
If the foods and drinks you consume consistently require a lot of insulin to be produced by your pancreas, at some point you may become insulin resistant. That means that insulin is no longer very effective at doing its job.
Insulin’s job is to make the cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue take up glucose from blood and convert it to glycogen that can be stored in the liver and muscles. Insulin also prevents the utilization of fat as an energy source. (2)
When a person becomes “insulin resistant”, the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively, and it – the insulin level – stays at elevated levels long after eating. Eventually, the heavy demands placed upon the insulin-making cells wear them out, and insulin production may stop.
As this unhappy journey approaches its conclusion (no more insulin), glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells, which can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes (collectively, “diabesity”) and metabolic syndrome.
People can get gain some clarity about “good” (complex) carbs and “bad” (simple) carbs via the Glycemic Index. It ranks carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 based on how quickly and how much they raise blood sugar levels after eating.
Foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread, are rapidly digested and cause substantial fluctuations in blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index, like whole oats, are digested more slowly, prompting a more gradual rise in blood sugar. (3)
Given all this, diets aimed at controlling blood glucose levels are often very similar, even for very different people. You just follow the Glycemic Index and all will be well.
We now know that this is not necessarily true.
The Weizmann Institute of Science study shows that the very common diets formulated to maintain stable blood sugar might achieve the exact opposite in some people.
Your Unique Microbiome
The Weizmann Study demonstrated to us that the differences in people’s reaction to diets have to do with different individuals’ microbiota.
Just as people are different from each other with respect to genetics and lifestyle, they too have different types and populations of the 100 trillion bacteria (plus or minus a million) that are in each of us.
These critters are called “microbiota” and the ecosystem they create is the microbiome.
Regular readers know that I’ve devoted much time and several pages on this site to the microbiome for two straightforward reasons: 1) New and fascinating discoveries are now frequently being made about microbiota; and 2) Such discoveries are challenging long-held postulates about what effects health.100 Trillion Reasons You’re Fat, Sick and Depressed, I wrote about several of the ways that the bacteria in us our health through their effect on our body composition (thin/fat), immune system, brain and behavior.
Then in Part 2 – The 4 Food Solution to the 100 Trillion Reasons You’re Fat, Sick and Depressed – the emphasis was on how to grow the right kind of microbiome, teeming with the bacterial strains that enhance our health.
By “grow” I really mean feed and starve. Certain foods and drinks feed the bacteria that enhance health, and other foods do just the opposite.
I continued with the Part 2 theme in uBiome’s 7 Secrets About How Some Gut Bacteria (like Firmicutes) Can Make You Fat, where I examined this:
- Overweight people have less bacterial variety
- Eat beans to get bacteria like a skinny person
- Meat that contains antibiotics can lead to weight gain
- Cut your risk of Type 2 diabetes by boosting bacterial diversity
- Fool your brain into believing you’re not hungry
- Taking fiber supplements can work as well as fiber from food
- Stop your bacteria from eating into your gut lining
I’m telling you all this to underscore why you should become interested in your microbiota, given what the Weizmann Study reveals.
What follows are some particulars about the study, how it was conducted and what it might mean to you.
The Weizeman Blood Sugar/Microbiota Study
The focus of the study was to understand what might impact variations in post-meal (prandial) blood sugar responses to the food eaten.
The scientist collected health and lifestyle data from 800 volunteers, who were connected to a device that monitored their blood sugar levels every five minutes for one week.
The participants used an app on their cell phones in which they could record data detailing what, when and how much of food, drink, exercise, sleep and of course, poop.
Yes, poop. The insights were in the poop.
Stool samples were collected in order to analyze the composition and activity of their microbiome.
What they discovered was surprising.
The scientists learned that when different people ate identical foods, there blood sugar response was often very different.
Now this is crazy, but true:
The blood sugar of some people rose more significantly after eating sushi than eating ice cream.
That’s not supposed to happen.
Remember the Glycemic Index? It measures how quickly specific foods raise blood sugar using a scale of 0 to 100. The higher the number, the more the food raises blood sugar.
Without more information, the Glycemic Index of sushi is unknowable, because if rice and rice vinegar (among other things) were added to the fish to makeup the sushi, the index would be higher than for fish alone, which by itself is basically zero.
Animal-based foods, such as fish, are not carbohydrates; they’re protein, and hence are not thought to amp up blood sugar. Contrary to this, ice cream is packed with sugar – the simplest of carbs – and is considered a blood sugar rocket ship.
And yet, for some, people the opposite is true, says the Weizmann Study, about which we’ll now continue…
The scientists conducting the study, clever as they are, were able to integrate all of the collected data into a computational algorithm that was able to predict the blood sugar response of the 800 participants in response to meals consumed.
Then they grabbed another 100 volunteers, fed their data into the algorithm, and it spit out individual diets tailored for each individual with the aim of keeping post-meal blood sugar levels modest.
Something called the “The Personalized Nutrition Project” was formed based on the new scientific insights and resulting algorithm, and it appears that they are accepting participants.
If you have high blood sugar or are pre-diabetic or have type 2 diabetes, run on over to here and sign up. That said, would be a good idea to read about what you’d be getting into right here. (UPDATE: Have been told that participants must reside in Israel for now.)
For everyone else who does not have a blood sugar problem that’s serious, you may want to have your microbiota tested — not to get a definitive prescription for your perfect diet, per se (that’s not yet available), but to see how your bacteria correlates with that of others. For instance, you may want to see how your microbiome compares to vegans, or smokers, or people on antibiotics.
If I were obese I’d like to know if an overpopulation of Firmicutes was the problem, and if it was, I’d want to eat the foods they disdain and instead eat the foods beneficial to Bacteroidetes.
Dr. Ray Sahelian tells us why:
… two types of good microbes or bacteria in the gut help to break down foods are different in obese and lean people and mice. There are trillions of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, but two groups called the Bacteroidetes and the Firmicutes are the most dominant and their proportion varies in lean and obese mice and humans. The proportion of Bacteroidetes bacteria is lower in obese mice and people than in lean people. Levels of Bacteroidetes rise as body weight is decreased. There may be a microbial component to obesity. (4)
If you’re overweight and nothing you do seems to help, maybe it’s time to boost your Bacteroidetes and smack down your Firmicutes.
Remember these 5 things:
- Personalized nutrition basically means knowing about and consuming the ideal foods, drinks and supplements (“inputs”) for based on various biomarkers that are unique to you.
- Common discovery of these inputs came via genetic tests or “hit or miss” iteration, but now another input has been verified – the 100 trillion bacteria on and in you.
- If you qualify (your blood sugar is high, basically), you may become part of future Weizmann studies, which you can learn more about here, but first, learn more about it here.
- Based on the algorithm tested in the Weizmann study, a new company has been formed to bring this technology to the marketplace. I will be notified when it’s ready and will subsequently let you know. (If you’re not a Subscriber, become one now.)
- You can get a jumpstart on improving your microbiota right now by getting it tested by uBiome (See my review of their service.), and by eating more fermented foods, fiber, and consuming prebiotics and probiotics.
Stay tuned, and please share this with everyone that might benefit from it.