Interesting but also full of a lot of incorrect and misleading information. Here are responses to the highlights:
Breast milk has zero fiber, yet healthy babies produce abundant (relative to their weight and size) stools several times daily.
Babies gain much of their flora during the birthing process and get more during breast feeding from flora both on the skin of the nipple and in the breast milk. These flora are then fed by oligosaccharides in the breast milk.
People who fast for weeks at a time have regular stools, even though they consume nothing but water.
Stools are also composed of non-food sources such as destroyed red blood cells. The body will also break down fat and tissues for energy, which will still lead to waste byproducts that will have to be eliminated along with fats being broken down.
Some people (the lucky ones) who attempted the Atkins Diet, had no problem with constipation, even though their diet contained zero or minor amounts of fiber.
The body can only utilize a minimal amount of protein, roughly 3 ounces a day. The rest is eliminated as waste. The average person eats way more protein than their bodies can utilize daily. And the Atkin's diet also promoted a higher fat intake. Fat intake promotes bile release. Bile is caustic and its irritation to the intestinal lining leading to peristalsis. This is why people who have had their gallbladders removed end up with chronic diarrhea. Instead of bile squirting in small amounts it dumps in to the intestines instead irritating the intestines and stimulating peristalsis. So even though the Atkin's diet eliminated fiber it still promoted intestinal peristalsis from the excess bile release.
Indigenous Inuit (Eskimo) people, who inhabit the Arctic coast of North America, some parts of Greenland, and northern Siberia, consume a fiber-free diet, and aren’t affected by constipation.
This is a common misconception. The Inuit and other similar populations DO NOT eat a fiber free diet. During the warmer months they collect plant materials such a leaves and berries for their diet. Excess collection is stored for their diet in the colder months.
Actually, normal stools shouldn’t contain any remnants of undigested food.
Another misconception. First of all the body does not digest cellulose. Cellulose is broken down during the fermentation of the cellulose by the intestinal flora. But the cellulose must first be broken down to an extent by mastication. When people see things like corn kernel cellulose in their stool note that these are large intact pieces. Larger pieces like this have a harder time being broken down by fermentation due to less exposed surface area. So missing teeth or improper chewing can lead to large pieces of cellulose ending up in the stool.
When babies are born, their digestive organs are sterile.
Again not true. During the birthing process the fetus enters the birth canal where it exposed to the mother's vaginal fluids containing these beneficial bacteria. Some of the vaginal fluid gets forced in to the mouth of the fetus and is swallowed. This is the first flora that enters the gut of the fetus. Skin flora on the nipple and breast milk become the secondary sources if breast fed. Babies taken by C section though are first exposed to hospital pathogens, which is why C section babies tend to be less healthy than vaginal birth babies.
The intestinal flora derives its energy and plastic nutrients not from food, but from mucin, which is secreted by healthy mucous membranes.
The intestinal flora derive their primary energy from the fermentation of the saccharides formed from the fermentation of fibers and from fatty acids. Flora in the sinuses and vaginal cavity will feed on other sources such as mucin.
The by-products of fiber’s bacterial fermentation (short chain fatty acids, ethanol, and lactic acid) destroy bacteria for the same reason acids and alcohols are routinely used to sterilize surgical instruments—they burst bacterial membranes on contact. And that’s how fiber addiction develops: as the fermentation destroys bacteria, you need more and more fiber to form stools.
So how does kefir and other probiotic foods continue to ferment as long as sugars are present despite the acids formed in the fermentation process? According to his claim the kefir and other probiotic sources would be be dead since their own acids would cause them to self destruct. Even our own flora would self destruct from their own acids if his hypothesis was correct.
Let me remind you that wine in the vat left for too long turns into vinegar, all the bacteria die off, and the fermentation stops. Bacterial fermentation in the wine vat, dear opponents, and in the pile of feces happens to be exactly the same process.
The author overlooked the simple fact that fermentation can only continue until all the food supply (sugars) are all used up. Then the bacteria will starve. Just like we will die if we do not and all the body's energy sources are used up. The bacteria that formed the wine itself again would have died when the sugar source ran out, which is why wine does not continue to get a higher and higher alcohol content at it sits on the shelf. So the bacteria have died off BEFORE the acid forms, they are not dying from the acid as the author claims.
Finally, consider this corroborating quote: “Colonic bacteria ferment unabsorbed carbohydrates into CO2, methane, H2, and short-chain fatty acids (butyrate, propionate, acetate, and lactate). These fatty acids cause diarrhea. The gases cause abdominal distention and bloating.”
It is the acids generated by the flora that help control Candida and intestinal pathogens, as well as aid in the absorption of minerals . The minerals and other alkaline substances, such as bile, control the acid levels. Speaking of bile as I mentioned earlier excess bile can cause diarrhea. But normal intestinal peristalsis is produced by the serotonin generated by the flora.
Besides fermentation, excess acidity may occur when the pancreas fails to neutralize the stomach’s content because of pancreatic disorders or an obstruction. In this instance, acidic digestive juices spill into the large intestine and destroy bacteria.
Again there are other alkaline substances in the intestines other than the bicarbonate released by the pancreas, so the statement he made above is very misleading.
And let's say his hypothesis about the acids killing the flora were correct. If that were the case then the acids produced by the flora would be self limiting. Think about it, the flora will not die all at once. So the acids would kill some of the bacteria, which would lower acid production thus allowing the surviving flora to be protected from excess acidity. And the cycle would continue.
Absence of intestinal gases. When dietary fiber (soluble as well as insoluble) is present in the diet, intestinal gases are produced by bacterial metabolism. A complete absence of gases (in the presence of dietary fiber) suggests an absence of fermentation.
Another fallacy. Foods can contain various surfactants such as saponins or coconut oil. Surfactants reduce surface tension of water allowing gases to dissolve in to the moisture present in the intestines and stool. This is the same principle of anti-gas medications such as Di-Gel, which is also a surfactant.
Undigested fiber in stool can be seen as white or dark specks.
This does not mean disbacteriosis as the author claims. I already explained earlier why undigested fiber ends up in the stool.
Constipation. Constipation is one of the most prominent signs, especially when the stools are dry or hard. This means there is too little bacteria to loosen up the formed feces and keep them moist, because, unlike other stool components, bacterial cells retain moisture.
This can also be from dehydration or even the use of some medications such as antihistamines. Also how would the author explain the fact that antibiotics, which kill the flora cause diarrhea, not dry and hard stools.
Intermittent or chronic diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. As you’ve read above, the introduction of desirable bacteria into the affected large intestine heals these conditions. So it’s a no-brainer to assume that, along with fiber, disbacteriosis plays a significant role in their pathogenesis.
Chronic diarrhea can have various causes including gallbladder removal. Taking probiotics is not going to restore the gallbladder. IBS does result from a lack of flora though. UC and Crohn's though are autoimmune disorders triggered by mycobacterium avium complex, and involve adrenal dysfunction. Simply taking probiotics is not going to treat these conditions. But fibers, soft ones in particular, have been shown to help with IBS by feeding the flora helping to restore their numbers.
Frequent respiratory infections, asthma, bronchitis, chronic rhinitis, post-nasal drip, nasal voice, sinus congestions, and allergies. These primarily chronic conditions indicate a weakened immune system because of disbacteriosis. They usually appear after a routine respiratory infection that was treated with antibiotics, which in turn damage intestinal flora.
Again misleading. For example, babies can be born with allergies/asthma even though they were never given antibiotics. This is because allergies, such as asthma result from adrenal dysfunction. This leads to a lack of antihistamine and antileukotriene epinephrine and immune modulatory and anti-inflammatory corticosteroids leading to the allergies. Antibiotics or lack of flora do not cause these.
Blood-clotting problems. Hard-to-stop ordinary bleeding and easy bruising (ecchymoses)—dark, blotchy areas of hemorrhages under the skin—may indicate a deficiency of vitamin K, which is a by-product of bacterial metabolism.
And is also found in green leafy vegetables along with calcium and protein also needed for clotting.
Neurological problems and anemia. Vitamin B12 is essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system and production of red blood cells. Since red meat and eggs were almost eliminated from the “healthy” Western diet until the Atkins-style diet came into vogue, the intestinal flora was the only remaining “natural” source of vitamin B12.
And yet strict vegetarians who do not supplement with B12 become B12 deficient in about 2 to 6 years as their liver stores of B12 are used up. It is the same principle as dogs can generate vitamin C, but not enough to sustain them throughout life. They still need external sources of vitamin C to help prevent issues such a hip dysplasia.
You can easily determine if the bacteria in your favorite yogurt are indeed “live” or “active.” Pour the beverage into a clean glass, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and leave the glass overnight in a warm place, such as the boiler room or near a warm electrical appliance. If, come morning, the wrap remains flat, it means the fermentation didn’t start and the gases didn’t form because the bacteria were long dead.
Did the author stop to think about the fact that trapped air in the container will expand when placed in a warm environment such as a boiler room? I can take a glass of purified water and cover it with plastic wrap. If I put this in a warm place the plastic will balloon up as the air warms and expands.
Even if you get lucky, and the bacteria are still alive, your stomach acid and enzymes will kill them on contact anyway. No surprise here—sterilization of food is, in fact, one of the stomach’s key functions. Unlike bacteria in yogurt, supplemental 'dry' bacteria survive the stomach's hostile environment because they are specifically designed to bypass it.
This is why it is best to take live cultures or even dry probiotic powders, which are prone to the same issues, first thing in the morning or before bed followed by some water. These will be the times the stomach acid is lowest and the water will help dilute stomach acid. In addition stomach acid declines with age, and is further impeded by nutritional deficiencies, antacids, acid blockers, alkaline waters, and some supplements such as calcium carbonate (dolomite, coral, oyster shell) and magnesium oxide. These not only reduce stomach acid directly but also inhibit its formation by blocking the absorption of the acid dependent nutrients needed for stomach acid formation. In fact some of these nutrients are generated by the flora. In addition, there are acid-resistant probiotic strains available.
So how can products like Dannon® Activia™ claim to restore “regularity” for some? Well, that happens not because of the bacteria, but due to the presence of inulin—a soluble fiber additive, which happens to be a potent laxative.
Inulin is not a "potent laxative" unless very high doses are taken. And the author again is overlooking the fact that the inulin can feed the flora, which in turn produce serotonin that regulates intestinal peristalsis.
Inulin is harvested from plants, and is broadly used as a filler and stabilizer in processed foods. Without some kind of industrial-strength stabilizer, ersatz dairy like Activia, which is “cooked” from dry milk, would separate into water and solids before reaching consumers
First of all inulin is not added as a "filler" or "stabilizer". Inulin is added to foods for two purposes. One is as a prebiotic to feed the flora as a prebiotic. Secondly it is used as a fat replacement since it gives the mouth the same feel as fats. If the author looked as his own link he would also see that gelatin is added to the yogurt. This is the stabilizer. In fact you will see gelatin in many yogurt products, which why they are gelled up instead of having a more runny consistency.
Cultured grade A non fat milk is a euphemism for dry milk dissolved in water. Dry milk is produced by spray-drying skim milk at extremely high temperatures. This process causes oxidation of remaining lipids, which, in turn, are implicated in atherosclerosis and cancers.
More hype. Spray drying is performed by creating a very fine mist in a chamber with pre-dried heated air that allows the water to evaporate off almost instantly. Oxidizers require moisture to oxidize. So the almost instant removal of the water prevents excess oxidation. So there is really no more oxidation than occurs with liquid milk. The heat does not cause the oxidation, it only speeds up oxidation.
Inulin is a known allergen reported in The New England Journal of Medicine
LOL!!! What sensationalism!!! Virtually anything can be an allergen. There are people allergic to sunlight for that matter.
Also, inulin is a fructan—fructose polymer. Fructose and other fructans cause malabsorption of nutrients in 30% to 40% of individuals,
Of central Europeans, not worldwide.
and they have been implicated in the pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Again not true. Fructose malabsorption can cause similar symptoms to IBS, but not IBS. And it has been shown that IBS results from a lack of flora, which is built up by inulin.
I was also wondering what you thought the best strategy would be for maximising gut flora. I feel like it would involve taking rice bran/oat bran and dry powder probiotics with high CFU counts and a wide variety of strains.
Do you think kefir is a better option than probiotic powder?
I don't bother with probiotic powders at all. There is no way to tell if they are even active. For example how long have they been stored? Were they shipped in hot trucks during the summer? At least with kefir the gas formation during the fermentation of the sugars show the cultures are active. And they are less expensive and generally contain many more beneficial probiotic strains than powdered probiotics.
As for feeding the bacteria you are right I prefer rice bran or oat bran. These are soft fibers that do not damage or over irritate the intestinal wall like psyllium or wheat bran. They are also great sources of B vitamins and silica. And rice bran provides gamma oryzanol that offers a variety of benefits including hormone balancing and anti-cancer properties.
Do you think colonic hydrotherapy would materially lower a persons level of good bacteria?
Yes they can as well as throw off the electrolyte balance. This is why I am not a big fan of them. There are safer ways to cleanse the colon such as soft fibers and the herbal blend triphala.
If we take probiotics first thing in the morning to minimise HCL contact how long should we wait before eating breakfast?
At least a half an hour.
Thanks, last batch of questions here...
Does it make a difference if rice bran/oat bran is taken with meals or away from meals?
With food would be best. Although I like eating the rice bran as a snack. It has a nutty flavor.
What sort of daily dosage will keep your flora thriving?
A tablespoon with meals would be fine.
Should rice bran/oat bran be taken separately from supplements?
That would be hard to do since most supplements are also taken with food. But the phytic acid in the bran is not really an issue since it would have to give up the minerals it is already bound to in order to take anything from the body. So the phytic acid is not the big, bad anti-nutrient some people claim it is unless it is isolated and purified. Even then phytic acid has a higher affinity for dangerous free iron and heavy metals than it does beneficial minerals.