When Hack Your Well being: The Secrets and techniques of the Intestine got here out, I knew I needed to evaluate it. As a lot as I can’t stand Netflix diet documentaries, I do know everybody needs to learn a synopsis and my ideas about these often-sensationalized motion pictures.

Not like among the Netflix documentaries, I discovered this one was comparatively nicely accomplished and I agree with the take-away messages they shared.

However it isn’t with out some criticism. Let’s dive in.

Intestine well being has been a preferred space of analysis for the previous couple of years, and we’re simply beginning to scratch the floor of what the well being of our intestine means to our general well being. Persistent well being circumstances reminiscent of kind II diabetes, weight problems, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, sleep problems, melancholy and nervousness have all been related to poor intestine well being, however we aren’t positive of the precise mechanisms by which they’re linked. 

As Tim Spector, a genetic epidemiologist from King’s School in London says within the movie, “That is new science, the tip of the iceberg. There’s one other 97% extra to find.”

That is true: now we have restricted human analysis, particularly on people. Hold that in thoughts.

The Netflix Hack Your Well being Stars:

Maya is a pastry chef with orthorexia who has a restricted weight-reduction plan. She’s even afraid to eat her personal meals. She eats principally greens after which dietary supplements her weight-reduction plan with “potions and powders,” and finds the wellness trade very complicated. I feel lots of people can relate to that.

Daniell is a doctoral scholar with power intestine ache. She started to undergo after consuming unhealthily throughout her undergraduate years. She has taken many rounds of antibiotics to assist her signs, however with no impact. She now associates consuming with nervousness, ache, and discomfort and might solely eat 10-15 meals.

Kimmie is a single mother struggling to drop pounds. She wonders if her intestine well being is why she has not been as profitable as different folks in losing a few pounds. 

Kobi is a retired aggressive eater who has eaten over 10,000 hotdogs. He can not really feel any starvation or fullness cues, and might go days with out consuming. He’s nervous that his profession has broken his intestine past restore. 

These folks all did at-home gut-testing by which their poop was analyzed to see what kind of micro organism it contained. They used a intestine well being take a look at known as Floré that’s obtainable on-line for $299USD. As per the web site, the makers of this product state: 

“Our intestine well being take a look at can detect over 23,000 microbes in your intestine, together with micro organism, fungus, yeast, parasites, and viruses. With using entire genome sequencing expertise, we are able to detect these all the way down to the pressure degree and the relative abundance of every microbe. Use your report to find out which meals and dietary supplements are finest for you or improve to our Precision Probiotics in your customized intestine well being answer.”

Proper. There’s the gross sales pitch, full with an upsell. Crimson flag.

Tim Spector is without doubt one of the consultants reviewing the outcomes with the folks within the movie and seems to be moderately supportive of those checks (in all probability as a result of he sells them too – see my evaluate of Zoe right here). His perception is that these checks might help us establish particular meals we must always and shouldn’t eat primarily based on our intestine microbiome. 

Dr. Guilia Enders, creator of the ebook Intestine: The Inside Story of Our Physique’s Most Underrated Organ, says that these checks are not more than a enjoyable experiment. She finds them pointless, and says which you could don’t want checks to deal with your intestine higher. Enhancing our weight-reduction plan (we’ll speak about that in a minute) is what most individuals really want, not microbiome testing.  

I 100% agree along with her, and this is the reason: at this level, we don’t know what the optimum gut-microbiome seems to be like. Realizing that, what are the outcomes of those checks being in comparison with? These checks additionally solely analyze your intestine micro organism at a single time limit, and we all know that our intestine can change shortly primarily based on what we eat, stress, antibiotics, and the setting. 

A microbiome take a look at that, for instance, tells me to not eat apples, sausages, and cake, is principally pulling this out of skinny air. Do we all know that the Commonplace American Food regimen seems to have a unfavorable impression on our intestine microbiome? Sure. Does this imply I ought to by no means eat sausages or cake? In fact not.

And upselling dietary supplements for a ‘customized intestine well being answer’? Have they got a billion completely different probiotics to swimsuit the microbiome of each single one that takes the take a look at?

That’s 100% advertising spin. Don’t purchase into it. Most individuals don’t even want probiotics (I wrote about that right here).

I want we as a society might deal with the BASICS – that’s, bettering the standard of our diets as an entire, eliminating suggestions that drill diets all the way down to single meals, and simply consuming sufficient vegetation, which solely round 1 out of 10 of us really do. That’s what can really assist our microbiome.

Why do we have to hack every thing and take a look at ourselves for info that’s principally ineffective?

I requested Leigh Merotto RD, a intestine well being dietitian in Toronto, for her ideas on these checks. She had this to say:

“Specialists agree {that a} wholesome intestine microbiome ought to have a range of microbes and species, however what these numbers appear like, just isn’t but outlined. The truth that these checks declare to diagnose “wholesome” quantities of micro organism, is solely primarily based on their very own parameters which is, for my part, unethical. Additional, viewing the corporate’s web site, they promote dietary supplements to handle completely different “issues” their take a look at can diagnose, so it’s at all times a crimson flag for me to be cautious when an organization seeks to inform you that you’ve got an issue, and promote you an answer to repair it.”

Again to Kimmi. When the consultants checked out her take a look at outcomes, they discovered that she had a much less various microbiome, and no Prevotella micro organism. This seems to be an analogous discovering in others who’ve a tough time losing a few pounds. 

The consultants inspired Kimmi to deal with sustainable weight-reduction plan adjustments and to extend fruit and veggies to assist her enhance her intestine well being. This highlights that we are able to’t really do a lot with the outcomes of those stool checks. Merotto provides, “whereas it was clear within the documentary that these checks can present sure ranges of helpful micro organism being “low”, they didn’t have any medical suggestions to handle these ranges, aside from to eat a extra plant-diverse weight-reduction plan. We don’t want them to shell out 100’s of {dollars} on a stool take a look at to inform them that they want to try this.”


We additionally don’t know at this level how a lot of an impression a selected kind of micro organism can have on the flexibility to drop pounds. Weight problems is a multifactorial power sickness and whereas intestine well being might play a task, there are such a lot of different elements to contemplate. 

Hack Your Well being: Analysis.

The movie attracts on analysis by Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, a researcher from the Washington College Faculty of Medication in St. Louis. In a 2008 research, he transplanted intestine micro organism from an identical twins the place one was overweight and the opposite was lean, into mice. The mice that acquired the micro organism from the overweight twin gained extra weight on the identical meals in comparison with the mice that acquired micro organism from the lean twin. 

Whereas that is undoubtedly an fascinating end result, it doesn’t inform us a lot about free-living people in the actual world. 

Additionally they drew on related analysis on psychological well being which discovered that when mice got micro organism from an individual with melancholy, the mice began to indicate related signs and there have been adjustments in serotonin ranges within the intestine and mind.  I’m not doubting the gut-brain connection and we all know that the majority of our serotonin is produced within the intestine, however once more, we are able to’t make any particular conclusions on people from this analysis. 

fiber and gut healthfiber and gut health

Most significantly, what suggestions can we give to people, primarily based on these research? Despair and the intestine is an interesting matter, but it surely’s essential to not ignore reverse causation. Does a poor weight-reduction plan give folks melancholy because of altering their intestine micro organism, or does their melancholy result in a poor weight-reduction plan and altered intestine micro organism? It’s onerous to say, and it will not be the identical reply for everybody.

Kobi’s stool take a look at discovered that he had fairly good intestine micro organism which they thought might be associated to his conventional Japanese weight-reduction plan. He additionally did a mind scan and primarily based on the outcomes, they thought that a few of his points have been associated to the truth that his mind is used to him being a aggressive eater.

Reasonably than giving him something radical to do, Dr. Enders suggests he attempt to hearken to his physique and honor all his senses when consuming. Whereas Kobi’s case is excessive, attempting to get extra in tune with starvation and satiety indicators is one thing many individuals can profit from. I agree with Dr. Enders right here, though for individuals who grew up being instructed to scrub their plate, or who’re power dieters, attempting to reconnect along with your physique’s cues is a course of. It might appear easy, but it surely’s not straightforward, and it takes time.

Fecal Transplants

Let’s get into fecal microbial transplants, or FMTs, which is the place another person’s poop is put into an contaminated affected person. This therapy is accredited by the FDA to be used in just one sickness: C. Difficile. This situation is when micro organism inflames the colon and causes horrible diarrhea to the purpose of being doubtlessly deadly. Analysis is ongoing to see if FMTs might help in different sicknesses, however once more, there are nonetheless a whole lot of unknowns.

Although it has not been accredited, we study that Daniell has been attempting FMTs and acquired feces from each her brother and boyfriend. We see her transferring poop from her fridge into take a look at tubes to be was poop capsules. When she received feces from her brother, she had some enhancements in her signs, however she discovered that she additionally received his pimples issues. She then switched to her boyfriend’s, and located the pimples went away. Nevertheless, her boyfriend has psychological well being points, and as soon as she began to make use of him as a donor, her melancholy was exacerbated. 

This appears like a dumpster hearth, to be trustworthy. Whereas there may be some preliminary analysis that means that melancholy and nervousness might end result from (or be alleviated by) FMT, this anecdote served as much as us by the movie is simply that…an anecdote.

If you get the great micro organism from somebody in an FMT, you additionally get the unhealthy. There are additionally large dangers to randomly inserting another person’s poop into your physique, so please: don’t do this at residence. 

When Maya’s intestine well being take a look at was reviewed, they discovered that she had a reasonably “wholesome” microbiome which is probably going because of all of the greens she eats. They reminded her that whereas consuming a kale salad every day is nice, it’s not sufficient and inspired extra range along with her meals. We then see her specializing in including potato chips again into her weight-reduction plan. 

For somebody affected by orthorexia, including potato chips into their weight-reduction plan is a large step. It could have been nice if they’d additionally given her some particular examples of different plant-based meals to devour that will contribute to bacterial range, reminiscent of entire grains, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds, however maybe they didn’t wish to worsen the state of affairs. I feel there’s much more to the story than we’re seeing right here.

It isn’t unusual for folks with power intestine points and histories of consuming problems to have concern and nervousness round meals. That is the place working immediately with a dietitian could be useful. A dietitian might help you slowly add meals again to your weight-reduction plan and monitor signs.

Netflix Hack Your Well being Evaluate: In Brief.

In comparison with different Netflix diet documentaries Hack Your Well being was pretty nicely accomplished. The consultants have been clear that now we have much more to study concerning the gut-microbiome, which is an effective overarching message. So is the advice to eat a weight-reduction plan wealthy in entire, plant-based meals and purpose for 20-30 various kinds of vegetation every week to assist promote a wholesome gut-microbiome. 

Together with fermented meals can also be useful as nicely.

Nothing about this film is a ‘hack.’ Complete meals, extra vegetation, and sustainable adjustments have been promoted by dietitians for years. Strong recommendation. 

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