Trust your gut, because you can’t change it
Despite all the hysteria over grains and gluten in recent years, if you’re reasonably well-informed you probably know a few basic facts about bread. For instance, traditionally prepared whole grain bread is better than re ined white bread, both for your health and for the community of bacteria in your gut (a.k.a. your microbiome).
But a new study by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research calls that into question. They fed people the equivalent of three pieces of bread each morning for a week, either white bread or whole wheat sourdough bread. Later the groups switched.
Surprisingly, the health changes that come from eating tons of bread, such as lower cholesterol and lower levels of some minerals, were the same regardless of the bread type consumed.
Neither of the breads seemed to cause changes to people’s microbiomes, either in terms of the types of bacteria in the gut or their abundance. Everyone’s gut bacteria are speci ic to them, and very resistant to changes in diet.
Weirdest of all: About half the people saw a spike in blood sugar after eating white bread; while half spiked on the sourdough. What’s “healthier” for one person is not healthier for another. And how you respond to a particular bread, the authors wrote, depends on your microbiome.
It’s mind-bending. And that’s typical of microbiome science. It’s an emerging ield. The technology that lets scientists look at the genetics of a bunch of bacteria all at once is super new. We’re learning, slowly, that our bacteria have a fundamental role in umpteen aspects of health and disease, but the details and applications are just starting to be understood. This is the ideal scienti ic environment for BS to grow. No wonder so many people are trying to change their microbiome with fad diets. As cell biologist Jim Woodgett once told me, “The gut is a pro it centre for much quack science.” Bottom line: It’s harder than you think to budge your microbiome.