Hi Reddit! Dr. Sarah Berry, Prof. Tim Spector, Prof. Nicola Segata, Dr. Francesco Asnicar, Prof. Christopher Gardner here!

As part of PREDICT, the world’s largest in-depth study of diet and nutrition, we’ve uncovered a panel of bacteria that are closely positively or negatively tied to metabolic health and weight, as well as the foods that help them thrive.

These exciting new findings, published this week in the prestigious journal Nature Medicine, form the basis of our at-home test and ZOE gut health insights.

During this AMA we’re happy to answer all your questions about the gut microbiome and its link to your overall health, disease, food choices and the latest diet trends.

Please read our bios below for more information on our areas of expertise. We'll be here at 9AM EST and we will aim to answer any follow up questions over the next couple of days.

Dr. Sarah Berry is a researcher and reader in nutritional science at King's College London. Her research interests relate to the influence of dietary components on markers of cardiovascular disease risk, with a particular focus on the influence of food and fat structure on postprandial metabolism. [https://www.kcl.ac.uk/people/sarah-berry]

Tim Spector MD is Professor of Genetic Epidemiology, King’s College London, honorary physician at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital, the PI of the Covid Symptom Study app and scientific co-founder of health science company ZOE. He is a specialist in twin studies, genetics, epigenetics, and microbiome and diet. Spector's latest book, Spoon-Fed, is groundbreaking in that forces us to question every diet plan, official recommendation, miracle cure or food label we encounter, and encourages us to rethink our whole relationship with food. [https://www.kcl.ac.uk/people/professor-tim-spector]

Dr. Nicola Segata is an associate professor and principal investigator. His background is in metagenomics, machine learning, microbiome research, and microbial genomics. He started and is leading the Laboratory of Computational Metagenomics at the Centre for Integrative Biology (University of Trento). http://segatalab.cibio.unitn.it/people.html

Dr. Francesco Ascnicar's major research interests are the developing of computational tools for metagenomic and phylogenetic analyses.

UPDATE 4:30PM EST: Thank you all for making our first r/IAmA so enjoyable! We appreciated your questions so much that we've been glued to our screens all day trying answer everyone. We're going to sign off for now but we will log on later to finish responding to any questions we missed. In good health ~ see you later!

Comments: 652 • Responses: 64  • Date: 

Nra818210 karma

I participated in the study and had some bad gut bacteria (“Bobby”) flagged in red in much higher concentration than the average person. At the time there was no recommendation for what to do. What is “Bobby” and how do I get him under control???

JoinZoe227 karma

Tim spector: We highlight 15 good and 15 bad microbes in the report - and we all have a mix of them that varies widely. At present we can tell you some foods to improve numbers of the good guys relative to the bad ones. We havent found many foods to eat to "destroy" the bad guys yet. Our advice will be to concentrate on building up the good guys and avoid highly processd foods to reduce the bad guys. As we get closer to a million peoples data we can improve our advice on individual foods and microbes. Good luck!

fire_fly_93053 karma

Do our lungs have their own microbiome? If they do is there anything someone with asthma could/should eat to improve this condition?

JoinZoe84 karma

Nicola here: The lung mirobiome is not comparable in complexity and size with that of the gut (or of the oral cavity). But there are indeed non=pathogenic microbes in the lungs and researchers are indeed studying how to exploit them against respiratory conditions. This project might be of interest: https://www.cureasthma.eu/ !

thambassador45 karma

Does this mean we can maybe determine personalized food responses from body fluid/DNA/gut biome?

Like "Yo person, since these are your DNA makeup, you'll lose/gain weight if you eat these" or like "Yo patient, your gut biome would be really happy if you ate more pizza"

nsegata60 karma

Yes. Indeed, we believe that the microbiome is linked to how each of us responds to food even stronger than human genetics

thambassador21 karma

That's interesting. Thanks for answering my question!. What determines are microbiome? Is it not from genetics? From the food we eat?

JoinZoe42 karma

Nicola Segata here: it's genetics in a rather small part, environment, exposure to maternal microbiomes at birth (think C-section vs natural birth, breast feeding vs formula feeding), diet, lifestyle, hygiene... so much more than "just" human genetics

Niniva7329 karma

Any clues to slow down chronic diarrhea? All I've gotten so far is moar fiber and probiotic yogurt, which is great for as far as it goes, but can you recommend anything else known to help or hinder the effort, since the docs said, "Eh, look it up on the internet" which has been less helpful than anticipated in meal planning?

The BRATs diet is an absolute no-go. The subject in question is unwilling to do it, and I'm unwilling to fight for it without way, way more convincing that it'll do some good.

JoinZoe38 karma

Tim spector: hard to advise clinically - but cutting out ultraprocessed foods for a week or more and experimenting with different diets could help.

JoinZoe1 karma

Unfortunately, we can't answer specific questions on disease or personal medical conditions. We're sorry. to hear that you haven't received the answers you're looking for from your doctors, but would recommend seeing a healthcare professional in person.

CryptoTheGrey28 karma

Any tips for us Crohn's or Colitis folks?

JoinZoe28 karma

tim spector: Studies are still ongoing and sadly poop transplant doesnt work so well - so just try and keep your microbes happy.

JoinZoe20 karma

Hi there! Unfortunately, we can't answer specific questions on disease or personal medical conditions. We would recommend seeing a healthcare professional in person.

Blue-124 karma

What are processed foods in your mind? Are they related to emulsifiers added, anti caking agents, preservatives, dyes, antibiotics or is there some other definition that you attribute processing to? I hear processed foods are bad but that's super vague so I don't really know what that means.

JoinZoe23 karma

Hi there! Good question. In our research, we used the NOVA classification system: (I) Unprocessed and minimally processed foods; (ii) Processed culinary ingredients; (iii) Processed foods; (iv) Ultra-processed foods. This document has all of the relevant details (http://www.fao.org/3/ca5644en/ca5644en.pdf), and this website breaks the categories down in a way that may be helpful (https://world.openfoodfacts.org/nova).

KINGCOCO24 karma

Dietary speaking, what are the most reliable ways to lose weight?

Edit: Let me rephrase. As a 36 year old male that's 20 pounds overweight with limited willpower, I have tried to lose the excess weight by dieting and moderate exercise but I keep failing - especially the diet part. Any advice for the best way to lose the excess weight? Do you have any secret that make dieticians hate you?

JoinZoe59 karma

Dr. Sarah Berry here! The most reliable way to lose weight varies hugely between each individual. Its all about eating the right foods for your biology and not stressing about calorie counting. For most of us, consuming a diet rich in healthy plant and animal foods, high in fiber with a good balance of fat, protein and carbohydrates and predominantly unprocessed foods will support a healthy gut, minimize glucose excursions and prevent excessive eating for ones own needs.

bambinomusic29 karma

You said calories out vs in, in fancy wording.

JoinZoe27 karma


wellnotes1 karma

She said not all calories are created equal so focus on nutrient dense calories... in simple terms.

JoinZoe9 karma

Dr. Sarah Berry here. I joined Prof. Christopher Gardner recently to talk about the concept of calories in a webinar late last year. You can catch the full recording here if you're interested: https://joinzoe.com/post/expert-webinar-calories-do-they-really-count

severusnapple23 karma

This is fascinating! I read the summary on JoinZoe, and I’m particularly intrigued by the part on less-processed plant-based diets and healthy meats. I had 2 questions:

  1. In your research, have you observed any significant differences between vegans, vegetarians, and those who occasionally eat some meat?
  2. I apologize if this is a basic question, but how often does the composition of your microbiome change? In other words, how easily can changing your diet change your gut microbiome?

Thank you so much!

JoinZoe29 karma

Nicola here: We did try to look at the different diet regimes, but we didn't have enough participants to be able to draw comparisons at this stage. Microbiome composition is really personal and overall stable overtime (you'll be more similar to yourself in 6 months from now than anyone else, from the microbiome point of view), but changes in diet have an effect on microbiome composition and can help shaping it.

JoinZoe22 karma

Tim spector : for 1. see above answer. for 2. how quickly does your microbiome change - it depends on how dramatically you change your diet. The earliest we can spot changes are after a few days on an extreme change- for more subtle changes it will take several weeks or months before we can detect it with our sequencing.

GoMoriartyOnPlanets22 karma

What are the chances this will change food regulations in any country?

JoinZoe77 karma

Tim spector: given the power of the big food companies - I dont see change anytime soon.

ScossieAussie21 karma

If your gut didn’t have many good bacteria types but lots of baddies is it REALLY possible to change that?, I mean, can a good bacteria suddenly appear in your microbiome when it didn’t exist before?? Thank you, love your work😁🙏🏻

JoinZoe29 karma

Sarah here. To echo Nicola, our data shows that genetics does not seem to have a big impact on our microbiome. Plus what we know from other research is that the microbiome is highly modifiable by diet.

NodNolan10 karma

During the first years of Junior School my son had SEN. His school were about to refer him to the Autism panel.

After discovering family history of Coeliac, and after finding small studies linking diet to autistc type symptoms we requested that they hold off the referral and he was put on a gluten free diet during the school holiday.

After returning to school having been on a GF diet the school noticed significant changes and he was removed from "special educational needs".

A subsequent gluten challenge had no damage to his gut discovered no damage and he's been officially put down as non coeliac gluten sensitivity, given the documented changes to his educational ability.

Has there been any more recent studies into gut health in children and links to cognitive behaviour be it Autism or ADHD that could explain any reasoning behind the sudden change in capability?

JoinZoe14 karma

Tim spector: Thanks for sharing - non coeliac gluten sensitivity is actually quite rare when confirmed by testing. Most people who think they have CD - dont have problems when tested formally. Gut microbes likel yto be involved - but data is not definitive yet.

iainS410 karma

Hi- my wife and I eat largely the same diet (largely plant’s...) -> would you anticipate we would have a similar micro biome??

aidilk17 karma

I participated in the predict 2 study together with my husband- We ate the provided predict study food and I prepared all of the additional food we consumed , so pretty much the same diet- our gut bacteria results were extremely different

JoinZoe15 karma

Nicola here. Interesting! The gut microbiome is shaped by long-term diet rather than short-term, so likely the effect of the Predict food was rather limited on the tested microbiome. Anyway, even identical twins still living in the same house have a very different microbiome, so how much two microbiomes are different is relative to the "baseline" differences.

Mawngo9 karma

Is there any research / evidence that suggests that eating animal products can be detrimental to overall health, gut micro biome? Additionally, if animal products don’t pose harm, is vegan / vegetarian shown to be an improvement?

JoinZoe31 karma

Tim Spector replied: Our study showed that eating unhealthy animal OR plant products are detrimental to your microbiome health. Other studies including the American/British gut projects showed that people with the best gut health were not necessarily vegan or veggie - but ate the most diversity of plants. So you can eat meat as long as you leave room for plenty of plants. (plenty of this in my book Spoon Fed)

gentlewarriormonk9 karma

What is the impact of coffee on the microbiome? What is the impact of stress, in general?

JoinZoe12 karma

Nicola here: we found strong associations between coffe drinkers and some bacteria. Cannot tell however what happens to the microbiome if a non-coffee drinker starts drinking coffee: we would love to answer to this question with the new data we are collecting!

JoinZoe12 karma

We have written a post about this topic here: https://joinzoe.com/post/coffee-gut-health
The evidence is obviously constantly evolving with new findings!

lavandai8 karma

Hello, I'm very intrested in a relationship between eating disorders, especially anorexia, and the microbiome.

Is there any good research that has been able to connect those two? And do you have any advice for those who are in recovery, regarding the gut health?

JoinZoe14 karma

Tim spector: We are not currently collecting data on this - but here is a recent review of the important topic https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30704642/ and many of the same principles apply

HappyRuin8 karma

What is going on with flavonoids?

JoinZoe18 karma

Tim spector here: Flavanoids are one of a set of thousands of chemicals called polyphenolic compounds that are natural defence chemicals for plants. They are key nutrients for gut microbes - like rocket fuel. They are in brightly coloured plants, berries, nuts seeds, dark chocolate etc. see my book The diet myth for details

banzie1238 karma

Is there public access to the Nature study, or abstract only?

JoinZoe24 karma

Tim Spector: There isn't public access but we summarized it for you on our blog here: https://joinzoe.com/post/nature-microbiome-discoveries.

actionruairi7 karma

What do you think of fermented foods that are purported to help the gut microbiome, e.g. Kim chi, kombucha and sauerkraut. Is there evidence that they are actually beneficial?

JoinZoe31 karma

Prof Christopher Gardner here. We are excited to tell you our group at Stanford has a paper that is near to publication where we addressed this. If you won't tell anyone else (until it is published), I can tell you what we found! We had 18 people try to consume as much yogurt, kimchee, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir as possible over a 10 week period. On average, they went from ~1/2 serving/day to 6 servings/day (keep in mind, a serving of yogurt is a half cup....so 6 servings could a cup of yogurt, a cup of sauerkraut, and 16 oz bottle of Kombucha....that's a lot, but doable over the course of the day.

We found a consistent increase in microbial diversity over the 10 weeks, across all the participants doing this. Very interestingly, we characterized what new bacteria were present and the majority were NOT from the specific fermented foods they were consuming. Apparently by introducing new strains of bacteria, this opened up opportunities for other strains to "bloom" and make their presence known.

And then when we looked at a variety of inflammatory markers, we observed that ~20 decreased over these 10 weeks!

Very exciting, and the research is actually available now in "pre-print". But, it should also soon be published (we just resubmitted it to the medical journal after responding to reviewer comments). But now you have the main conclusions of our trial, and they support that....yes.....fermented foods impact the microbiome and have a beneficial impact on lowering inflammation.

effervescenthoopla7 karma

Thanks so much for this! I have a question about accessibility in microbiome testing. I understand that there are some services out there that come as "test kits" where a lab will analyze your microbiome and send back the info. How useful is this information, and how trustworthy are services like that, as a general rule? I have gut issues and I strongly believe it's biome-related, and I'd love to get it tested, but I'm worried I'd spend money on useless info that can't be trusted.

JoinZoe7 karma

Hi there. Great question—it depends on the service on offer! There certainly are microbiome testing kits out there that aren't credible. However, there are others that provide useful information. Our research has been used to inform the ZOE test kit, for example, so the techniques used for analyzing the gut microbiome and results shared are based on cutting-edge science. As a general rule, do your research, read reviews, and make sure that the test kit you're considering is based on decent science.

dem0n0cracy6 karma

I'm curious what the nutritional habits of all the authors are. What do you guys do to stay healthy?

JoinZoe8 karma

Prof Christopher Gardner here: Whole Food Plant-Based diet

sheepthechicken5 karma

How do ‘gut microbiome’ stool studies account for natural daily variation in types/volume of bacteria? My naturopath had me do one of those tests, and she told me that results are rarely consistent - if I did a test on Monday and Tuesday, the results wouldn’t be exactly the same - but that they’re not SO varied as to be useless.

JoinZoe13 karma

Nicola here: the are large fluctuations in the abundance of the microbes in the stool over different samplings in the same person. But what is much more stable is the presence of species and strains that are specific to that individual. So with a microbiome test that goes enough "in depth" the results are very consistent. Technically, this means (as a starting point) to use shotgun metagenomics (as Zoe does) rather than the low-resolution 16S rRNA gene sequencing.

codeword_scotland5 karma

Hi guys, I just wanted to ask a question that isn't really related to your study. This year I'm starting uni to study genetics and I am just wondering about how I would get into a field like this? I find genetics and nutrition so interesting and cool. It's fine if you don't have much helpful info for me :)

JoinZoe7 karma

Prof Christopher Gardner here. This all depends on your initiative. You are likely to get an advisor in the genetics department and they are likely to steer you to other colleagues in the same department for advice. But if you make the effort to find out who else is at your university, you can likely get some co-mentoring from faculty involved in nutrition research. I am a nutrition scientist at Stanford, and I currently have to scholars working with me that have primary affiliations with the genetics department. Just like you, they had a primary interest in genetics, and secondary interest in nutrition. I gladly welcomed them to join our lab group meetings and help us with some research papers. But it is up to YOU.

JoinZoe3 karma

Hi there! Great question, and congrats on this next exciting stage. Immerse yourself in research, build connections with those in the field you're interested in, and don't forget to have fun :)

Buscemis_eyeballs5 karma

Can you speak to alcohols effects on gut biome?

When I was an alcoholic I had constant stomach issues and weight issues but when I stopped my stomach squared itself away. Curious if anything good can live in an alcohol rich environment.

JoinZoe16 karma

Tim Spector: We published that red wine drinkers have healthier microbes than other drinkers. Heavy alcohol drinkers of any kind had worse microbes. (see LeRoy C et al 2020)

baeloclaudia5 karma

You found a strong correlation between Lawsonibacter asaccharolyticus and coffee consumption. Was this organism one of the good guys or the bad guys? Would you recommend cutting down on coffee?

JoinZoe10 karma

Coffee is considered good (at reasonable quantity) in healthy individuals by epidemiologists and nutritionists. Lawsonibacter asaccharolyticus is specifically associated with coffee and with not much else. So it's not in the panel of bacteria particuarly associated (positively or negatively) with cardiometabolic health. So we are intrigued ourselves to understand more around this association. Lawsonibacter asaccharolyticus has been only very recently described, so one of the poorly characterized intestinal bacteria.

wellnotes4 karma

Does the gut microbiome become stronger if we fast for an extended period of time, thus killing off weaker bacteria?

JoinZoe14 karma

Prof. Nicola Segata here: Fasting does have an effect on the gut microbiome, even though we did not specifically investigate this in our research. Understanding how fasting affects the gut microbiome is however more difficult as it is a combination of how fasting is done and what is the diet in the non-fasting periods

crazydoglover1014 karma

Are agricultural chemicals part of the studies? I mean people possibly having reactions to the glysophate and other prominent fertilizers/herbicides/fungicides that are part of the food supply now? I've seen online articles talking about gut microbiome being negatively affected as in literally killed off by chemicals. I've personally had really good luck with fermented foods, mainly apple cider vinegar teas and kombucha for my gut health. How bad is the candida in microbiome? Thank you for researching!!

JoinZoe8 karma

Nicola here. It's quite difficult to collect data on agricultural chemicals in the food, but it would be very interesting to study! The presence of Candida in high abundance in the gut microbiome is usually a consequence of something else going on, so usually it is not the first reason for the problems

ohlauro4 karma

Is there a link between your gut microbiome and how your body reacts to fatty foods? If so, is there a way to track this reaction? I've previously used a Continuous Glucose Monitor to track my glucose response and wondered if there is anything similar for tracking your fat response. In particular, I've found that eating foods with a high fat content produces a really low glucose spike but am wary about shifting to a high percentage of fatty foods in my diet (35%+) in my diet in case it has a negative impact on my heart health in particular. It would be really good to measure how my body processes yoghurt/cream/fatty fish etc.

JoinZoe10 karma

Is there a link between your gut microbiome and how your body reacts to fatty foods? If so, is there a way to track this reaction? I've previously used a Continuous Glucose Monitor to track my glucose response and wondered if there is anything similar for tracking your fat response. In particular, I've found that eating foods with a high fat content produces a really low glucose spike but am wary about shifting to a high percentage of fatty foods in my diet (35%+) in my diet in case it has a negative impact on my heart health in particular. It would be really good to measure how my body processes yoghurt/cream/fatty fish etc.

Dr Sarah Berry here: One novel finding from our research is that that we found that the gut microbiome plays an even more important role in postprandial lipemic (blood fat) responses after eating a meal than glycemic (blood sugar) responses (see https://joinzoe.com/post/nature-microbiome-discoveries).

There isn't currently a medical device like a CGM that tracks blood fat responses. However, using machine learning we can predict personalized responses to foods based on your data (i.e. your own blood fat and blood sugar control) in real-time. You might find our first paper on this research, published in Nature Medicine last year in June, interesting: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0934-0

JoinZoe6 karma

One more point: Nutrients do indeed interact to modify your responses (for example, adding protein or fat to a meal typically reduces the glycemic response but the extent of this will also depend on your unique biology and other factors)

JoinZoe4 karma

Francesco Asnicar here: Indeed in our study we did find stronger associations between the gut microbiome and triglycerides than glucose-mediated markers, unfortunately we can't monitor them with something like a CGM, we used metabolomics to measure them. A high-fat diet can reduce glucose spikes as you won't eat much of glucose-rich foods, but difficult to say it is healthy in the long term. More data will be needed to unravel this.

OtherDouble4 karma

Have you been able to see if people that live together share the same gut biome?

JoinZoe8 karma

Great question. Our research hasn't focused on answering this question. What we have seen from our cohort is that unrelated individuals share (on average) ±34% of the same gut microbes and identical twins share (on average) 30% of the same microbes. i.e. Even identical twins can have a very different gut microbiome. When you look at the genetic variants of these species, our gut microbiomes are highly unique, so no two people have the same gut microbiome composition!

the_hammburglar3 karma

Hi. Is kombucha good for the gut biome or is it just more woo?

JoinZoe9 karma

Hi there! There isn't much rigorous evidence to support or reject this idea. But with a few very rare exceptions fermented foods—like kombucha—are safe compared to any other food or supplement.

BalesLeftBoot3 karma

Has your study considered the impact of diets higher in wild game meat on gut microbiome?

I realize this is a smaller population to study, but I have my own un-scientific hypotheses on this topic.

JoinZoe6 karma

Hi there! Our study didn't look at this question specifically. Our dietary intake data also didn't differentiate between wild game meat vs. farmed meat. Interested to hear your hypothesis?

Blackadder_3 karma

How should one look at the labels and draw a line with your study? Or should FDA re-evaluate the labels?

JoinZoe13 karma

Tim spector: IMO what should be on the label is some form of junk or ultra-processed food score say 1-5 that gives an idea how bad it is for your microbes. There should also be a disclaimer that calorie measures are often innacurate. Labels appear to be deliberately confusing and hard to read. I would also highlight the total number of ingredients which gives an idea as to "quality".

redbricklampbrush3 karma

I'm on medication that makes eating difficult (it always feels like I'm full), so gut biome health and it's effects on mental health are always a concern for me.

Is there anything you'd recommend for someone in my position (limited food intake, not great nutritional balance) to keep my gut biome healthy and happy while I develop ways to get more complete nutrition?

JoinZoe5 karma

Tim spector: No easy answers without knowing your full history- but try and keep your microbes happy with a very diverse mainly plant based diet plus fermented foods

skillpolitics3 karma

Nutrition facts are based on an amino acid score of the food. Do microbes contribute to our supply of essential amino acids in an amount that would make those nutrition facts misleading?

It another way, are PDCAAS scores very meaningful? The composition of a persons gut microbiome seems like it could be more important to nutrition than the exact balance of essential AAs. Am I wrong?

JoinZoe6 karma

Prof Christopher Gardner here. Microbes do not contribute meaningfully to essential amino acids. The PDCAA's are not particularly meaningful, in my opinion as a nutrition expert...IF...you have access to a reasonable variety of foods and adequate calories. Protein deficiency is extremely rare. In fact, most people (with adequate calories and reasonable variety) eat protein in much higher amounts than the (RDA) Recommended Dietary Allowances. And the RDA's already have a safety factor built into them such that if everyone got the RDA amount (0.8 g protein/kg body weight/day) then 97.5% of them would be exceeding their individual requirement.

I wrote a paper with colleagues challenging the concept of the PDCAA's as a measure of "Quality". They focus on two factors - amino acid distribution, and digestibility. We argued that while those two criteria have merit, given that protein deficiency is so rare, "quality" of protein sources should likely take into account: 1) the other nutrients that come with specific foods, and 2) impact on the environment.

For example, protein in beef has a perfect PDCAA score, but it comes with no fiber, and has high saturated fat, and has a detrimental impact on the environment. In contrast, lentils have relatively lower PDCAA Score, but they have high fiber content (for your microbiome!!), low saturated fat, and a much lower impact on the environment. If you'd like to read our paper about Modernizing the definition of Protein Quality, it is here: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31066877/

firejuggler743 karma

What is in the food supply that is causing everyone to get fat?

JoinZoe18 karma

Prof Christopher Gardner here. Probably a combo of what is in it, and how accessible it is. The highest proportion of calories in the US come from refined carbohydrates and added sugars. Combined they make up ~40% of calories. That compares to: ~10% of calories from health carbs (e.g., veggies, beans), 10% from animal protein, 5% from plant protein, and ~10% each from saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Not only is the 40% the biggest contributor to calories, those calories don't contribute proportionally to satiety. You still feel hungry after eating those. The refined grains and added sugars taste good and they are inexpensive to produce and add to foods....and they are typically important components to "ultra-processed" foods that have been getting a lot of press lately.

This is separate from the other change in society that has been going on for the last couple of decades...the availability of foods. Go to the hardware store....there is (junk) food in the check out lines. Before you couldn't eat in a library, now they have coffee bars with mocha-frappa-crappa-cino's and pastries to drink and eat while you are reading. Eating in the car is very common. There are very few places where it is taboo to eat food anywhere. People eat all day long, anywhere.

So, partly food supply (refined grains, added sugars), partly societal changes in when and where it is acceptable to eat.

WhiteMoonRose2 karma

Are your studies ongoing? Can we sign up to participate?

JoinZoe2 karma

Dr. Sarah Berry here: Yes, the PREDICT Program is ongoing. We're currently recruiting for PREDICT 3. You can opt in to the study—and be part of our citizen science effort—if you decide to join ZOE: http://joinzoe.com/

sleepinganus2 karma

Should we look at our bodies as engines that we want to put the best food fuel possible? How can we look at nutrition overall in a more directly correlative light to our overall well being?

JoinZoe6 karma

Tim spector; yes- thats a good way to look at it- we all need different fuels and different amounts and currently we are working without any fuel guages! Approaches like ZOE can give you the key instruments for precision nutrition

pinksio2 karma

How far away are we from a metabolic cure all pill? This type of fatless/hungerless panacea exists in the scifi book 2030 by Albert Brooks, so like 9 years right?

JoinZoe2 karma

maybe 90 years!

Leapfrogunicorns2 karma

This is such a fascinating field of study, are there any plans to also study the effects of these microbiomes on personality or emotions?

JoinZoe5 karma

tim spector: There is plenty of emerging data on microbes and emotions . see my earlier comment on depression. ZOE intends to start exploring this in more detail to see if the "bad bugs" also correlate with bad moods or if others are involved.

Separate_Landscape_42 karma

Hi - Do we understand what impact multi day fasting has on gut microbe and overall health outcomes? I know someone who fasts for 4-5 days a week back to back. Is it safe to assume this is a bad idea? Thanks

JoinZoe7 karma

Tim spector: see my earlier thoughts on fasting - yes fasting for over 24 hours is potentially dangerous.

eXskoop2 karma

Can I eat pizza everyday and be healthy?

JoinZoe10 karma

As long as it's Hawaiian.

spear5042 karma

Happy to be reading this! What are your thoughts on information like this being well-received by the traditional, western medicine community? I’ve noticed a large correlation with functional medicine practitioners and gut health/micro biome functionality, but it (IMO) seems a typical provider is skeptical? What can be done to get more providers on board with maintaining or creating healthy biome?

JoinZoe5 karma

Tim spector: When data like this get published in the top journals (like Nature) - then health providers take notice. It just takes time....

lexlumix1 karma

Can you recommend any specific foods that can help strengthen immunity against coronavirus?

Buscemis_eyeballs3 karma

There are no foods known to increase resistance to a viral load of Corona virus. Covid 19 or otherwise. A health immune system in general gained from a balanced diet is always the best approach.

JoinZoe3 karma

Great answer. There isn't enough evidence to suggest that any specific foods can strengthen your immune system. A healthy, balanced diet is the best approach—along with other healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Liagala1 karma


JoinZoe3 karma

Hi there! Unfortunately, if you have a gut disease (e.g. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease) then you are not eligible to do the ZOE program as we do not diagnose, prevent, or treat any diseases (including metabolic or inflammatory conditions). If you have any underlying health conditions it is worth consulting your treating physician before joining the program.

valcatrina1 karma

What would you recommend to help with IBS? Especially for going number 2

JoinZoe3 karma

Tim spector: There are many different forms of IBS so one size advice is tricky. Suggest getting your microbes tested and try and get them to be healthier as a first step.

petewenkz21 karma

Does PREDICT have the capability to serve complex disorders like PCOS? If yes, what is its approach Edit: and does your team believe in the DOGMA theory (dysbiosis connection to PCOS?)

JoinZoe2 karma

Tim spector here: It does have capability in the future- but first we need to understand all the complexities of humans without PCOS