I guess that this needs a health warning up front:- Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College, London has written a new book (“The Diet Myth”, out today) & his publishers are promoting it for all that they are worth. Even so, he’s got some excellent things to say.
The bottom line:
That last one should give the clue here:- Tim is talking in his book about the microbiome, the 1,000s of microbes & bacteria & intestinal flora that inhabit the whole of our guts from tongue to anus and each cm² in between. Now, I’ve been obsessed with the microbiome ever since researching & writing about Lyuba the baby mammoth (email 20 May 2014).
One of the things about Lyuba was that it had some mammoth poo in it’s stomach, and the research said that it was common to find that. I also knew that other animals do that, including elephants. The reason is clearly because they need to quickly acquire their parent’s microbiome as to be able to digest their food.
The next fact is that elephants & mammoths (which are related) are really poor at digesting their food of grass & leaves, whilst cows are much better at it. Elephant dung is very dry--it looks more like grass than dung--whilst cow dung is the complete opposite. Clearly, the cows have a better microbiome for grass digestion.
By the way:
What’s brown & sounds like a bell?
♩♬ dung! ♯♭♫
So, back to Professor Tim. His research is indicating that fast food makes us fat (which is hardly news) but that it is doing so by reducing the diversity of our microbiome, and that is new. It even suggests that this could be the key to obesity (see also email 8 Feb 2015).
Now of course, your aunty Sue used to be obese (is she still?). When I was married to her sister, Janet was *not* obese but became so after we divorced. I was never obese & was whippet-thin as a boy & young man. By the time I got to 30 I had a tum on me, which my mum loudly commented on at the seaside (pot calling the kettle black), but I never got worse than that.
White bread, white sugar & white rice are spawn of the devil. The processing that turns them from brown to white takes the ‘roughage’ out of them & that has long been known to make them speed through the gut (‘unprocessed’ means slow digestion which means small, soft turds; ‘processed’ means fast digestion which means large, hard turds & an equally hard time on the pot).
The previous paragraph has been known about for a long time, but Professor Tim is saying that of equal importance is the diversity that unprocessed food lends to the microbiome, and the lack of diversity caused by fast food. Here are some astonishing observations:
The decrease in cost & increase in speed of genome-sequencing machines has transformed this area.
Professor Tim persuaded his son, Tom, to engage in an experiment:-
Tom’s result is classic. Try this page:
--------- Alex Kemp