Welcome to Ben Greenfield's Weekly Roundup and Cool New Discoveries!
Ben Greenfield's discoveries, from the latest news on the fronts of fitness, nutrition, health, wellness, biohacking, and anti-aging research. I also recap my upcoming events and special announcements so you can keep up with giveaways, discounts, and more!
New Discoveries Of The Week: Cool New Things I'm Trying, Books I'm Reading, And More!
What I've Learned Lately About Probiotics
If you listened to my fascinating episode with Joel Greene (Part 1 here & Part 2 here), then you may have heard some controversial information regarding probiotic supplementation. This interested me quite a bit, since I actually use the SEED Synbiotic daily and Joel seemed to imply that it may cause brain fog and may not adequately heal gut lining—and also expressed a few other concerns that compelled me to get some counsel from my brilliant bacteria friend at SEED, Raja Dhir, who you first met in Dangerous Probiotic Myths, The Probiotic Ben Greenfield Uses, Anti-Aging Effects Of Probiotics, Should Males Vs. Females Take Different Probiotics & Much More.
Here's what he had to say:
Q: Can probiotics cause brain fog. What’s your read on that?
The brain fog paper cited regarding probiotics has a lot of issues. We published a paper in Frontiers in Microbiology last year directly responding to the limitations of the study:
Another pertinent example of the over-interpretation of limited data is a recent study conducted on 34 patients suffering from “brain fogginess,” which is a set of presentations including impaired concentration, confusion, and poor short-term memory. Based on the observation that consumption of fermented food or commercially available microbial products was a shared trait amongst the patients reporting brain fog, the study implied that all probiotics could be causative agents of brain fogginess. While the definition of probiotics accommodates strains of any taxa, it is unlikely that these included the Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Neisseria, or Hemophilus, which were the primary organisms detected by culture in the duodenal aspirates. Furthermore, 68% of the cohort presented with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and there were no data to verify patients were acidotic; a crucial linkage considering many lactobacilli and all bifidobacteria only produce l-lactate and not d-lactate. In the future, appropriate trial design can strengthen the field by moving away from observational and correlative data sets. In this case, the study concluded that probiotics may be causative of brain fog on the observation that antibiotic therapy alleviated symptoms of brain fog, whereas a more appropriately designed study would have split the patients after antibiotic therapy into two groups, and upon reintroduction of probiotics in a defined cohort, compared the emergence of symptoms against the antibiotic-treated control.
Q: Regarding gut barrier function, what are your thoughts about pectin and the possibilities there for tight junction integrity?
Epithelial tight junction integrity is important in gut homeostasis. More than pectin, or any polyphenolic compound, L-glutamine is the most potent regulator in the preservation of gut barrier function. The gut mucosa is the major site of glutamine metabolism and glutamine is the preferred fuel for enterocytes and colonocytes. We've interrogated tight junction protein expression pretty heavily, and single strain, as well as consortia of probiotic bacteria, can increase tight junction protein expression. Not all bacteria do this, and we had to screen our strain bank extensively to find a consortia that does. Another good study showed this too and found that a human origin probiotic cocktail increased short-chain fatty acid production, which is widely protective for the host as shown here (immunological / T cells) and here and here (gut-brain axis).
Q: How important is butyrate?
I like that you guys hit on butyrate and its role in host metabolism, especially when it's a metabolite of microbial cross-feeding vs. isolated. Bifidobacteria (not all) produce lactate and some produce acetate, which is used by Akkermansia and friends (part of the Clostridia cluster XIVa) to produce butyrate. Earlier this year we generated data showing that after exposure to antibiotics and ethanol (vodka), our Daily Synbiotic cocktail ‘rescues' short-chain fatty acid production, resulting specifically in a net increase in butyrate production compared to control (naive recovery). Even more striking we showed that it increases butyrate production to higher levels than the original baseline microbiome prior to the challenge.
Q: What about bacteria associated with weight maintenance?
Akkermansia is a cool bug—we know the scientist who really put it on the map (Dr. Patrice Cani). But it's not so simple to associate its presence in lean people/mice models with health. A big debate we had at the Keystone Conference last year was around why it's there in lean people, but elevated in the gut of patients with neurodegenerative disease. It has a lot of promise but we need to be careful about associations. It's also present in Japanese women, but virtually nonexistent in Japanese men, so there's more to the story than focusing on a single bug as a marker for microbiota mediated metabolism.
Human evidence for polyphenols in stimulating Akkermansia hasn't been sufficient to date. This is from one of the papers he cites:
As far as the functionality of polyphenols has been deemed to contribute to the strong antioxidant effect observed in in vitro experiments, recent results have indicated that relatively poorly absorptive polyphenols directly affect intestinal bacteria and show the possibility that the antioxidant effect is mediated by so-called “good bacteria” such as Akkermansia. However, polyphenols have not been sufficiently analyzed in human subjects, and the evidence for its involvement in increasing the abundance of Akkermansia has not been sufficient.
We can't find evidence to support that cold exposure affects Akkermansia. We’re big fans of both sauna and cold plunges but can't find the link. Also, Inuit diet hasn't been shown to affect Akkermansia:
No effect of the Inuit diet on strain diversity was observed within either Akkermansia or Bacteroides (Mann-Whitney test).
Q: Any thoughts on fiber and the carnivore diet?
The podcast discussed TNF-a and intestinal inflammation blunting the protective effects of fiber. In general, we agree with the sentiment that carnivore/fiber elimination probably helps people that have upstream intestinal issues rather than being net-positive at the population level. A group at UCSD has shown that probiotics can blunt the effects of TNF-a (and IFN-g) on epithelial function.
Overall we agree with looking at the gut as a system and enjoyed the thought experiment around ‘rebuilding' the gut, but based on the evidence, there is no indication that “probiotics” as a category are bad or that they don’t work. The issue is that not all, or even many, commercially available products have data on any of the points discussed above, which is why looking at the strain(s) and desired outcomes is critical when discussing probiotics in the context of gut microbiota, and why consumers should ask these questions of any probiotic product they take.
So, ultimately, I don't plan on halting my daily intake of 3 SEED Synbiotic capsules. I truly think SEED makes one of the best probiotics out there.
What separates SEED from other probiotics? It is comprised of 24 strains characterized at academic institutions and research partners in Italy, Spain, Belgium, the US, and Japan. Twenty-three of the strains are human-derived and one strain was isolated from fruit (screened against 400+ strains of the same species) specifically because it has clinically demonstrated the ability to help promote healthy cholesterol levels. The benefits have been validated in 16 strain-specific, double-blind, placebo-controlled, published human studies as well as 13 in vitro/ex vivo mechanistic studies.
Bacteria are fragile—they are sensitive to light, temperature, and moisture. In many cases, they hardly survive the trip from manufacturer to store shelf, much less your digestive process (think stomach acids and bile). SEED took care of this. Their nested capsule technology ensures bacteria stay alive and viable through digestion and make it to your colon, where their work begins. They use an algae delivery system to provide additional protection for the most sensitive strains. This also means there’s no synthetic or chemical coating, and that it is shelf-stable for 18 months and requires no refrigeration!
If you want to try SEED for yourself, you can click here and use code BEN15 to save 15%.
Podcasts I Recorded This Week:
This episode was brought to you by Kion Labor Day Sale (code BGF20), JOOVV (Order your Joovv today and receive my brand new book, Boundless as a free gift), Lucy Nicotine Gum (code BEN20), and Public Goods (code BEN).
Ben Greenfield's VIP Text Club: To receive exclusive texts from Ben Greenfield, text the word “FITNESS” to 411247 (within the U.S. only).
Articles I Published This Week:
My full article feed and all past archives of my articles are here if you want to check out past articles.
Articles I Was Featured In This Week:
::: Save 20% PLUS Get Free Shipping On Tasty Collagen, Ketones, or MCT Oil :::
The good folks at Perfect Keto have made being able to quickly grab the tastiest collagen, ketones, or MCT oil for my morning smoothies incredibly easy—and unlike many other keto products, theirs burn clean with zero soy, dairy, gluten, or artificial sweeteners.
- Boost your ketone levels with their flagship product, Exogenous Ketone Base—the most important supplement to support a ketogenic diet.
- They also have Keto Collagen, your body's best friend, to support your hair, skin, nails, and joints.
- Or, if you're constantly on the go like me, their Exogenous Ketone Capsules are the easiest way to shuttle ketones into your body. (They also contain electrolytes to boost mental clarity and energy levels.)
When you use code BGF20 to try any of their delicious products, you'll save 20% and get free shipping. You can click here to see my personal favorites and the code will automatically be applied to your cart.
If you don’t love whatever you wind up ordering, just email them at [email protected] and reference me (within a month of ordering) and they will refund your order. This is your risk-free chance to check out Perfect Keto.
Need Help Fully Optimizing Your Brain & Body?
I've studied the science, seen first-hand what works and what doesn't, and most importantly, know how to help you make lasting changes to become the best version of yourself – for good. I've also trained an entire army of Kion Coaches, and with our support, you'll no longer have to struggle to decipher conflicting health information, only to end up confused and unmotivated.
Are you looking to achieve peak physical performance? Trying to shed fat or gain lean muscle as fast as possible? Ready to tap into the most cutting-edge health, fitness, and longevity protocols? Every day, I work with people just like you to help them achieve their goals with personalized health advice and one-of-a-kind nutrition and fitness plans. My schedule gets filled quickly, so be sure to book your one-on-one consultation with me today.
Kion Coaches are certified in the same holistic approach I take to mind, body, and spiritual health. In addition to being trained by yours truly, these folks are qualified professionals, ranging from personal trainers to nutritionists, chiropractors, elite athletes, psychologists, medical doctors, and more. Just click here to view the full coach directory and to find the ideal coach for you and your unique goals!
September 26-28: Brain Biohacking Summit, Lexington, KY & Online. Join me at the Kentucky Castle—along with super-special guests such as one of the godfathers of plant medicine, Jim Fadiman; top regenerative medicine doc, Dr. Matt Cook; decorated Crossfit champ, Julie Foucher; herbalist, medicine maker, and wildcrafter, Andrew Ozinskas; my own personal mentor (top secret, unnamed person I’ve been working with for two years); and more—for an unforgettable weekend filled with:
- Cold/hot thermogenesis training and use of sauna, cryotherapy unit, and ice bath at the castle…
- Wild food foraging and wild herb foraging in the forest followed by a scrumptious, mouth-watering post-foraging feast…
- Daily yoga, meditation, and gratitude sessions…
- Full breathwork session followed by an immersion in holotropic breathwork (a life-changing experience if you’ve never done it!)…
- And much, much more…
If you want to discover everything you’ll need for the rest of your life to optimize your cognitive function and upgrade your brain (and also get access to never-before-seen material on plant medicine, breathwork, and beyond) you won't want to miss this event.
You can click here to attend the event live (*seats are extremely limited!*) or you can register to attend online for full access to all talks. Whether you plan to attend in person or online, you can use code BEN to save 20%.
Featured Product: Kion Colostrum
Feed your gut “nature’s first food” with Kion Colostrum—made from premium grass-fed, pasture-raised, and antibiotic/hormone-free milk.
Colostrum has been shown to improve athletic performance, reduce gut permeability, and support lean mass maintenance. In addition to growth hormone, immunoglobulins, and proline-rich polypeptides—which play important biological roles vital to proper health and immune function—Kion Colostrum also contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids.
Quantities are limited, and this stuff sells out fast, so pick up some today at GetKion.com! Use code BGF20 to save 20% on your first purchase.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This Week's Most Popular Instagram Post
This Week's Most Popular Tweet:
Ibuprofen shrinks your balls, fellas: https://t.co/exfRcJow9P
— Ben Greenfield (@bengreenfield) September 9, 2020
My Most Popular Facebook Post This Week:
Why does hair grey and how can you reverse it?This is a question I get almost every day. I’ve studied the heck out of…
Leave your comments and any news or discoveries that you think I missed below!