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We all fall victim at one point or another to feeding our pets human food rather than what is specifically designed for them. It is very important when choosing plants for your home that you make sure the plants you choose are not toxic for your furry family members.
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Rabies is deadly disease, but, luckily, outbreaks are not particularly common in the United States. If your dog shows signs of stiffness or begins limping, you may assume that arthritis is to blame. So with this in mind, I created a dietary questionnaire (below) and sent it to microbiologists who work with diet, disease, metabolism and so on in the context of the microbiome. Below are the results from 37 microbiologists who had responded within 24 hours of sending out the survey.
The question was pretty straightforward and an average answer of 8.9 is consistent with the research that diet modulates gut microbiome composition. Mounting evidence suggests that how you enter this world (c-section vs vaginal) and whether or not you are breast-fed, and for how long, may have short and long-term effects on the composition of your microbiome. It is widely accepted that dietary fiber and resistant starch serve as substrates for bacteria growth in the large bowel (colon). A quick review of the panel of experts assembled to update the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to the current 2010 guidelines (myPlate), reveals a diverse group of distinguished researchers within their respective fields. In summary, I paraphrase Michale Pollan: Eat dirt, not too much, mainly with plants (and meat is ok, even with a little fat on it).
I recently read about a study that really looks at the relative value of a different types of calories effect upon diet and weight gain. Thank you for this…and for exploring the topic of microbiomes and their importance relating to human health. As the microbes in the soil prepare the minerals and organic matter for assimilation by plants, so the human gut microbes prepare the food we eat for our use, and the food we eat determines the viability and functionality of those microbes. Consider this…the primary difference between plants and animals is that animals have the ability to carry their digestive microbes around with them. Our gut microbes allow us to eat and move whereby plants must remain stationary since they have no ability to take the digestive microbes with them Only animals can do that.
So, to a point, you may find some of the answers you seek in similar studies about the plant kingdom. Sadly- the level of denial among the medical community at large on this topic is at epic proportions. Hopefully, this project and others like it will provide enough evidence to force the medical community to take their blinders off and stop repeating the same false messages about diet and nutrition that have been given to the public for the last fifty years. Being overweight or obese can lead to many of the same health problems whether you are a human, dog or cat.
Much to the dismay of its growing legions of supporters, the Paleo Diet was not popular among the panel experts, coming in at the back of the pack (see how it favored in questions 9 and 10 below). News & World Report Best Diets report got a lot of play in the media, and judging by the thousands who commented in a YES or NO to liking a particular diet on the list, the public is paying attention.
It includes researchers from all over the world from major research universities and organizations. Brief comments are provided after each question and a take home summary is provided at the end. This, coupled with the lack of antibiotics, which is known to impact diversity in our modern microbiome, suggests that our ancestral microbiome may have been characterized by greater diversity.


Although accessibility by various bacterial groups will vary, do you believe in general that dietary fiber and resistant starch are beneficial for the microbiome? Increasing the delivery of substrates to the residing bacteria results in greater short chain fatty acid production (SCFA) and reduction in colonic pH – both of which are desirable. Do you believe the current USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans were compiled with a clear understanding of the impact of dietary choices on the microbiome?
You can Google the disease + microbiome and access published research associated with each. Again, in theory, this would raise the amount of naturally occurring dietary fiber in the diet.
Do you believe a better understanding of the nutritional landscape (and lifestyle) of our ancestors (and remote, traditional communities today) may provide insight into the conditions that selected for our current human-associated microbiome? Do you believe a high protein-fat diet, so long as it includes a significant amount and diversity of whole plants (fermentation sources) and minimal to no processed carbohydrates, is a strategy for a healthy microbiome?
I borrowed it from an excellent article written about the association of gut bugs and type 1 diabetes (definitively worth reading). As a side note, I would like to see more independent, non biased ( funded by special interest entities),research on the impact of processed foods on humans. I’ve read a number or articles recently, not sure if based on peer-reviewed studies, that genetically modified organisms can alter the DNA of our gut flora. Do you believe the current USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans were compiled with a clear understanding of the impact of dietary choices on the microbiome?
If only because most likely do not know, whether some of their colleagues were involved in the formulation of the Dietary Guidlines.
As a microbiologist, I was thrilled that someone wanted to know what we think (next time include me please!). Either you answer no to the first and yes to the second or yes to the first and no to the second. The reason animals have adapted to the point of long distance locomotion is because we can eat, then digest, not the other way around (yeah, I know of the Venus Flytrap.
And that’s why, of the two parent types of life we know of, plants must remain stationary and animals can move around. The overall winner, the DASH diet, is built on the theory that a low-fat, low sodium strategy with a hint towards calorie restriction, is the healthiest way to go. Given what might be the proverbial writing on the wall, it’s probably not much of a stretch to suggest that dietary and lifestyle advice, which currently comes from a physicians, general practitioners and registered dietitians, will likely come from a microbiologist or related specialist working with the microbiome in the very near future. They are interested in the microbiome and its modulation and impact on its host (you and me). Note the respondents were anonymous as I did not want them to receive a bunch of emails from individuals who may not have agreed with their answers. The idea that early childhood and lifetime exposure to antibiotics from medicine and our food supply is receiving a considerable amount of research attention – given that disruption of the microbiome by antibiotics is well documented.
And if those substrates include special dietary fiber known as prebiotics, it may also improve gut barrier function.
And unless I missed it, neither the 2010 dietary guidelines or the accompanying 1,375-page report from the Institute of the Office of Medicine, contain the word microbiome anywhere in the text. This study, and others among less westernized populations, suggest that our modern world and its highly processed diet may be changing our microbiome as well.
To me it seems logicial to think that the addition of hormones,antibiotics and a myriad of adulterants, would have a negative impact on us.
Specialists and working scientists may well have other opinions as generalists and scientists closer to politics who organise the funding for their profession. In some instances its frowned upon by institutions for their researchers to participate in such surveys.


The respondents to this survey do not think much consideration was given to the microbiome either. For some, like obesity, the role of the gut microbiome is well-established, but much work remains to be done. I got quite a few comments on this question – most fell along the lines of disappointment that microbiologist were not part of the 11 person expert panel that produced the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
To much fiber and resistant starch, while it may be great for the microbiome, can drive acid reflux and IBS symptoms in many people susceptible to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
The survey was limited to 10 questions in all (with several sub questions within questions).
For others, like Autism, there are only tantalizing hints that our gut bugs may play a role.
I threw in the calorie is a calorie question in light of the recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that not all calories are created equal. It is also acknowledged that some of the questions in the survey minimize the complexity of the interactions that are at play in linking the microbiome to a condition of interest – and that much of our understanding of the role of the microbiome in human disease is preliminary. Without a doubt, more questions could have been asked and the questions asked could have all been worded differently – so shoot holes in it if you must. With each, an underlying genetic susceptibility is required and then an environmental trigger.
Therefore, it may be prudent to better understand the nutritional and ecological landscape that selected for our modern human-associated microbiome. This means things like grains and dairy are out, and lots of meat and fruits and veggies are in. I would like to see mors support and awareness of seed banks, we may need them in the future.
There was no way around that while trying to keep the questions and answers understandable to a general audience. Even though the data suggest otherwise, some continue to be concerned that the high fat intake may have deleterious effects.
However, most if not all of the microbiologists conduct research that involves diets that adhere to one set or guidelines or another – as well as test diets (high fat, vs this or that). Its also acknowledged, that while the possibilities associated with changing or altering the microbiome for better health is within reach for some ailments, nobody wants to take the cake out of the oven too soon. What should be of great interest is the general consensus that is forming around the role of the microbiome and gut permeability – or leaky gut.
Maybe that plant protein is more interesting as it comes in a package that also delivers some fermentable substrates (fiber) along with it.
In addition, the adherence does not seem to be an issue for the multitudes now following the paleo lifestyle.
Once an imbalance (dysbiosis) occurs, be it from diet, antibiotics or so on, a chain reaction occurs and things leak into the bloodstream which can lead to low-grade inflammation associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes and some other less desirable things. A cursory understanding of the guidelines clearly indicate no attention given to the microbiome – ie, no big secret.
One condition that was inadvertently left off the list was the autoimmune disorder Celiac disease. Mounting research is linking the gut microbiome with the timing and onset of this debilitating disease.



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