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Episode 35: Is Eating Insects Good For Gut Health?

Episode 35: Is Eating Insects Good For Gut Health?

If you’ve ever traveled to the markets of Oaxaca or strolled through the streets of Thailand, you’re likely familiar with the sight of vendors hawking crunchy, salty morsels...of insects. Cultures around the world embrace putting bugs on their dinner plates (or at least in their snack jars), but this isn’t something that’s caught on in North America.   

That may be about to change. As the physical and environmental cost of growing and raising protein increases, food companies are starting to turn their attention on insects --specifically insects as a sustainable, easy-to-raise source of high-quality protein. But how does this fare for our health?     

On this episode, Andrea sits down with Dr. Tiffany Weir, an Associate Professor at Colorado State University in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. As a member of the CSU faculty, she teaches classes on fermentation microbiology, probiotics, and personalized nutrition.   

She also runs an active research program that explores the impact of diet on the gut microbiota for prevention of chronic disease -- that’s where the crickets come in. One of her latest projects examined what happened to the microbiome when participants ate crickets. Don’t worry -- they were hidden in muffins, not hopping around on the green beans.   

On this show, Andrea and Tiffany discuss her work, including how the same microbes interact in different environments and how our microbiomes impact cardiovascular health. Plus, Dr. Weir tells us the answer to the question, “is eating insects good for gut health?”   

To connect with Dr. Weir and read more research, head to her Colorado State staff page or check out her Research Gate profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tiffany_Weir  

 

 

On this show, you’ll learn: 

  • How Dr. Tiffany Weir got interested in gut microbes (1:54)
  • Human vs. plant complexity (2:54)
  • What the research says about microbes interacting in different environments (4:09)
  • How the gut microbiota is related to cardiovascular disease (8:52)
  • How fermentation of plant foods affect the bioavailability of phytochemicals (11:30)  
  • What are functional foods? (17:19)
  • Wild foods vs. farmed foods (19:34)
  • Crickets and the microbiome (21:40)
  • How crickets alter the microbiota (25:48)
  • What is next for Dr. Weir’s research? (29:54)

 

Transcript:

Andrea Wien: Welcome to The Microbiome Report powered by drmicrobiome.com and Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum's new book, Total Gut Balance, which is now available wherever books are sold. I'm your host, Andrea Wien and before we jump in today, just a quick housekeeping note. The show will be moving to monthly episodes, starting with this one. So you can look forward to new episodes of The Microbiome Report the first Thursday of every month. Now let's talk about what we're getting into today. It's something that might make you a tad bit squeamish, bugs. And not the kind that we've been talking about, the ones already swimming around in your gut. Instead, we're talking about the ones that have exoskeletons and are more often seen hopping around in your lawn. Specifically, we're talking about crickets. My guest today is Dr. Tiffany Weir. Dr. Weir is an associate professor at Colorado State University in the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

                        She studied biology and plant pathology at Penn State before obtaining a PhD in molecular biology from Colorado State University. As a member of the faculty at CSU, she teaches classes on fermentation microbiology, probiotics, and personalized nutrition. What we're talking about today is her active research program that explores the impact of diet on the gut microbiota for the prevention of chronic disease. Her current projects, which we'll discuss today, include exploring the relationship between the gut microbiota and cardiovascular disease and studying the impact of various dietary supplements and functional foods on gut health and micro biotic communities. That functional food piece, that's where the crickets come in.

                       On this episode, you'll get the answers to the question is eating insects good for gut health? The answer may surprise you. Tiffany, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Dr. Tiffany Weir: You're welcome.

Andrea Wien: So to get started, I want to know how you got interested in this wide world of gut microbes?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: So my background is actually in plant pathology, which means that I studied diseases in plants. And so I was initially introduced to bacteria through that avenue, but I really got interested in the research that I'm doing now when I heard a story on NPR that came out back in probably 2005, 2006, where they had identified the fact that obesity was determined by the ratio of the bacteria [duties] to the Firmicutes that were present in the gut. So that early research that came out, I just found that fascinating and having already worked with bacteria at that point, I was working a lot with soil bacteria and I thought I could make this jump from soil into working more with human gut microbiome. And so that's when I started to make that transition.

Andrea Wien: Now have you found the humans to be more complex than the plants or what have been some of the biggest surprises there?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: Actually, I think that the system in general for the microorganisms, the microbial communities are a little bit less complex because the gut is a closed system and the number of different taxa that are present in the gut although it seems overwhelming for people who do know about the gut microbiota, that there's a whole lot there and there's a lot going on. There's a lot more in the soil because there's so much more environmental variability. And then also on top of that, it's an open system. And so new microbes are coming into that system all the time.

Andrea Wien: Hmm interesting. Yeah, we hear so much and we talk about it on this show, the complexity of the gut microbiome and it is complex. And I think partially because we can't always see what's going on in real time in there. Whereas I think the outside world, although more uncontrolled I guess, would be a little bit easier to study because you're not having to open people up.

Dr. Tiffany Weir: It's definitely easier to sample the soil for sure.

Andrea Wien: So you really study how the microbes interact and I read your bio it says ranging from soils to processed products, to the human gut. Do we know, what does the research say about how these individual microbes interact differently in different environments? Or are they behaving more or less the same wherever they are?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: So I don't study them as much at the individual level, but more at a community level. And there are definitely some parallels between the different ecosystems. So for instance, I can't remember who said it, but there was this adage that, "Everything is everywhere and the environment decides". And that really does seem to hold true to some degree. For instance, pH is a big driver of what microbes can survive in a particular community. And so looking at the soils with different pH's are going to have pretty different microbial communities. And it's the same thing in the gastrointestinal tract.

                        As you move through the gastrointestinal tract and you have that lower pH around the stomach, and then that gradually increases as you get down to the colon, you see that the communities of microorganisms that live in that environment are pretty dramatically altered. And so there's this gradient of organisms based on the changes in the pH. Another big factor that influences these communities is going to be substrate availability. So just like our diet is going to have an impact on our gut microbial community, plants secrete carbon from their root systems and this is called root exodus. And so it's this carbon that's coming into the system in the soil that's going to help select for the certain microbes that are going to best be able to utilize those. And so different plant communities are going to have different microbial communities associated with them.

                        So those are some of the parallels, but as I mentioned some of the differences are that the gastrointestinal system is a little bit more closed. The environment's a little bit more controlled, particularly in healthy humans. You're not going to expect big swings in pH or big external factors that are going to come in and disrupt it. We do see that with things like antibiotics and certain other environmental disrupters that can occur in the gut, but it's much more common in these open environmental systems like in the soil.

Andrea Wien: So when we're talking about the gut microbiota in general and our audience has a pretty good handle on what it is and why it's important for our health, but I would love your perspective from more of a research-based perspective on why these gut microbiota are really important for overall systemic health?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: We're still really finding out what some of the mechanistic impacts are of the gut microbiota, but we know that they're important in development of the cells in the intestinal tract, development of the immune system. And so from the very earliest days of your life, when your microbes are first starting to colonize, if that colonization doesn't occur in a particular order and a particular amount of exposure to microbes, it can disrupt the immune system and lead to problems later on in life. I know things like cesarean section versus natural vaginal births have a pretty big impact on the gut microbial composition in early life. But that, that later on tends to normalize as other factors start to contribute like diet. But it still is a greater chance if you were born by cesarean section of developing certain auto-immune conditions, gastrointestinal conditions, things like that.

                        And it's likely that a lot of that was due to that early conditioning between those microorganisms that were present and the development of the immune system. So that's one example. And then another example is, we're constantly putting new substrates in our body that feed these microorganisms. And depending on the substrates that we're consuming and the microorganisms that are present, they're going to produce different metabolites. And some of these metabolites are going to be beneficial to our health. There are things like the short chain fatty acids, which include acetate, propionate and butyrate and they're really important in regulating our metabolism. They're really important in regulating gut barrier function, but then there can also be detrimental metabolites.

                         A good example is there's trimethylamine N-oxide has been associated with consumption of the things like red meat and the gut microbes are responsible for converting the initial compounds that are found in those foods, which are carnitine and phosphatidylcholine I guess it's just choline and carnitine into trimethylamine. And then the liver converts that to trimethylamine N-oxide and trimethylamine N-oxide has been associated with increases in atherosclerotic plaques.

Andrea Wien: Hmm so this is where we're starting to get into how the gut microbiota is related to cardiovascular disease. We've talked on the show a lot about the gut brain access, but not very much at all about the gut heart access.

Dr. Tiffany Weir: Yeah. So this is an exciting area for me because this is where a lot of our particular research is. I'm in a department that has some pretty strong researchers in cardiovascular physiology. And so I have collaborators that have good assays for looking at vascular function in both animal and in human models. So we've had the opportunity to do these basic studies, but also to do these translational studies that are applicable to human health. And what we're finding is that we know there are certain risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and obesity is one of the bigger ones. Aging is another one. And a lot of those risk factors might actually be associated to cardiovascular disease through their impacts on the gut microbiota.

                        So one of the studies that we did, we use diet to induce early stage cardiovascular disease, which is characterized by vascular dysfunction, which is that the vessels do not constrict and dilate properly. And in addition to that, the arteries are stiffer and so that makes the blood flow through faster and the heart has to work a little bit harder. So we did a study where we gave these mice, high-fat diet and then we gave the mice antibiotics and it actually reversed these early stage markers of vascular dysfunction and cardiovascular disease completely when we wiped out their microbiota with antibiotics.

Andrea Wien: Interesting.

Dr. Tiffany Weir: So a follow-up to that was that we took microbiota from obese, genetically obese animals, and we transplanted it into normal animals on a normal diet. And we were able to induce vascular dysfunction in those animals just by giving them the microbiota.

Andrea Wien: That's really fascinating. And I'm thinking actually of my dad. So my dad does not have a great diet. He is by all accounts obese and he has a AFib and he keeps telling me that his AFib has nothing to do with his diet. And now I can go to him with this research and say, "Actually, it might be that your diet is feeding the wrong microbes".

Dr. Tiffany Weir: Possibly. Yeah.

Andrea Wien: I'm just going to go with it. We won't let him listen to the show. I'm going to tell him, "This is what we've discovered today".

Dr. Tiffany Weir: Sounds good.

Andrea Wien: Switching gears a little bit. You also do a lot of work on functional foods and the fermentation of plant foods. And I want to talk about both of those, but can you speak first to the studies about how fermentation of plant foods really affects the bioavailability of what's beneficial for human health in the term of phytochemicals? And maybe you can give all of those things a little bit of definition for people who might not know what phytochemicals are.

Dr. Tiffany Weir: Yeah, sure. So phytochemicals or just plant chemicals or secondary metabolites. So there are things that plants produce that aren't necessarily used for their normal growth and metabolism. They're more compounds that they use for defense typically. They will protect plants. Plants can't run away and seek shelter when the sun is too hot. So they produce compounds that as antioxidants that prevent sun damage. They can't do anything when insects land on them and start chewing on them. So they produce compounds that are going to be deterrence to insects or other herbivores. Same thing with organisms that could potentially cause infections, they'll produce things that are antifungal, antibacterial. And so all these compounds fall under this broad category of phytochemicals and they have vastly different chemical structures. And I don't even know how many different types of phytochemicals you could find in the plant world, but it's one of the reasons why plants are such a great source of mining for pharmaceuticals and different types of drugs that could be used in humans because of all of these broad functions that are potentially in the plant world.

                        So when we eat plants, in these plants, they're usually stored so that they're ready when they need to be ready in case of a pathogen attack or an herbivore attack. And they're kept in a storage form that's inactive. Either stored in vacuoles or a lot of times they'll be conjugated to sugar molecules. So what happens is when we eat these and they have the sugar molecule attached, it makes it less absorbable by our digestive system. So a lot of these phytochemicals actually make it into the colon intact because they're poorly absorbed. What happens there is, bacteria eats sugar. So they're going to cleave off those sugar molecules and they're going to be able to use those for their own energy, but now it leaves this more non-polar typically compound that could potentially be absorbed in the large intestines. Also, they can continue to metabolize those compounds further into other metabolites. And some of those other metabolites have bioactivities in humans as well. But even if they're not absorbed, there's the potential that they could act as anti-inflammatory molecules within the gut itself.

Andrea Wien: Similar to how prebiotic is feeding that gut bacteria and causing those byproducts, humans can't digest those prebiotic fibers so they're feeding the gut microbes, and this would be having those in the colon would produce those anti-inflammatory effects, even though they're not being absorbed systemically into the body.

Dr. Tiffany Weir: Exactly. It could have systemic benefits by enhancing the gut environment and the gut barrier function.

Andrea Wien: So does that also exists, the fermentation of those foods outside of the body? So in foods like sauerkraut or kimchi? Are we seeing those same benefits?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: So what happens with things like that is so a lot of these phytochemicals they're incorporated into the lignocellulose skeleton of plants and they're tied up even to the point when we consume them that the gut bacteria wouldn't really get a chance to excise those without... They wouldn't have enough time to get those compounds out. And so by fermenting, prior to consumption some of these phenolic compounds that act as cross-links in the lignocellulose skeleton can be released. And so you can have this overall increase in total phenolic compounds from fermentation. But another benefit of the fermented foods isn't necessarily an increase in the polyphenols and their bioavailability, but it could also be just production of microbial metabolites. Like I mentioned, the short chain fatty acids earlier. And so lactic acid and acidic acid are things that are produced by microbes in fermented foods. And both of those have been shown to have benefits in human health.

Andrea Wien: Multiple avenues in which fermented foods are good for you. So everyone should be eating all those lacto-fermented foods immediately.

Dr. Tiffany Weir: And there's a debate as to whether there's any probiotic effect or whether the microorganisms survive, if they're the right types of micro organisms to have probiotic effects in humans. But even without that, I think that there are some benefits from these different fermentation compounds, but there can also be some problems as well because there are also decarboxylases that are produced by microorganisms that can take certain amino acids like histidine and convert it into histamine, which if you're familiar with, that's what released during an allergic reaction. So some people are sensitive to histamines. That's what leads to wine headaches and things like that. So fermented foods that are high in protein typically have more likelihood of having high histamine levels after fermentation. So you do want to be careful of that.

Andrea Wien: This episode is brought to you by our resident researcher Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum's new book, Total Gut Balance: Fix Your Microbiome Fast for Complete Digestive Wellness. This book is a combination of Dr. G's last 40 years of research now condensed into an easy to follow diet and lifestyle plan that will give you a proven formula for how to fix your microbiome and heal your gut for good. In the book, he talks about putting this diet through a clinical research trial and dives deep into the science on why your body's fungal communities can impact how you lose weight, your energy and your ability to achieve optimal health. The book is now available for purchase. So head to totalgutbook.com or wherever you buy your books to get started, fixing your gut health today. Now back to the show.

                        You study functional foods and I think that's a term that we haven't discussed much on the show. So what are functional foods and what are some that you've studied?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: So I don't know if there's a specific definition that's widely accepted, but the way that I would define functional foods are foods that go beyond just meeting the basic nutrition requirements that actually have secondary beneficial effects on health. And so that could be through providing antioxidant compounds, providing things that are going to have an influence on the gut microbiota that would be beneficial. Foods that can regulate gene expression. If you've heard of nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics, there's this idea that foods can either downregulate or upregulate certain genes to have a benefit on the human body.

                        And so those types of foods I would consider to be functional foods. And a lot of times those foods are things rich in the phytochemicals that we talked about. A lot of fruits and vegetables, blueberries, acai. Those are all some of the popular ones right now. Some of the functional foods that we have studied, I collaborate with Dr. Sarah Johnson, who I mentioned is one of the cardiovascular physiologists in our department, and she runs human studies on functional foods. So we've looked at red beet root juice on cardiovascular health. We've looked at blueberries, we're currently conducting a study with aronia berries. She's just wrapping up a study with micro greens, and then I've done a study with cricket powder.

Andrea Wien: Now I want to get to that, but I want to talk really briefly about wild foods versus farmed foods. Because I tell my clients sometimes, and I would love to get your input on this, foods that are wild like wild blueberries for example, that you find growing out in the bush, in your backyard, have more of those phytochemicals than ones that are farmed. And I make the analogy of if someone has had a cushy life and they're getting fed with a silver spoon and everything's been handed to them, they don't have as much of that resiliency and life experience as someone who really had to work hard for where they're at, maybe has some significant life experiences behind them. Those people are going to be more resilient and have more grit. The same thing is going on with foods, right?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: Absolutely. Yeah. So you bring up some really good points there. So the phytochemicals for one. If things are farmed and they're provided pesticides and things to keep the pests away from them, then they have no need to produce those compounds. And those compounds come at a cost. This is carbon that they could be using in growth and reproduction. And so they're not going to use energy to produce these defensive compounds if there's no need for it. And so that's one of the discussions about organic versus conventional farming too, is that even though actual nutrient levels don't tend to differ between organic and conventionally farmed foods. These levels of phytochemicals may be different. And so you would get more benefits from the organic foods that way. And I assume that with wild foods, it would be really similar as well.

                        But then the other aspect is of that is that these phytochemicals are produced to deter consumption by insects and deer and squirrels and things like that. And so usually they affect the taste a little bit. And so breeders have bred for reduced levels of these because they want things that are sweeter, that tastes better. And that don't have that little bitterness that's associated with a lot of these compounds.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. I think you can see this in dandelion greens, right? The dandelion greens I get from my farmer's market or from even out in my yard tastes completely different than the stuff that you might get at Whole Foods.

Dr. Tiffany Weir: Yeah, definitely. And I think that's because they've selected for the ones that people are going to find more palatable or that are going to taste better.

Andrea Wien: All right. So we blew past the crickets, but this is how I came to know you, is this research on crickets and how that as a functional food really can impact the microbiome. And I know people are maybe cringing, maybe cringing a little bit. But crickets are a hot topic right now. I think you starting to see cricket protein powders pop up. People are talking about how much less resources it takes on the earth to raise crickets for food versus something like beef. So let's talk about crickets in the microbiome. Why did you choose that to study? And what's really been surprising about that research.

Dr. Tiffany Weir: So that research was brought to me back when I was a graduate student. There was another student that was my assistant, my undergraduate assistant. We worked together for a few years and then she went on to graduate school and I went on to become a professor. And she came back to me during her PhD and she's really interested. In fact, she has her own NGO that's called Mighty that is interested in promoting for environmental sustainability and food security reasons, the consumption of insects. And she's studied this ethnographically and she has looked at what different food stocks you can feed insects to make them more nutritious. She's done all sorts of studies in this area and she came back and she's like, "I would really love to work with you again. We've maintained contact over all these years and we're really good friends". So for me, it was a passion project to get to go back and do something with a really good friend of mine that I've known for many years.

                        And she said, "Let's see if there are any benefits beyond nutrition of consuming cricket powders, because we already know that they provide a decent amount of protein, but they have this unique fiber that we don't normally find in the diet that's called chitin. And the only places that you really find chitin are in mushrooms and then in the shells of different types of crustaceans and then in these crickets". So we wanted to see if the chitin might have a beneficial impact on the gut microbiota. And then, if it did impact the microbiota, whether or not it might reduce different inflammatory parameters.

Andrea Wien: So that answers my questions are crickets unique as insects? They're really one of the only insects that has this chitin?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: No most insects have the chitin. We picked cricket because we thought that that was going to be most palatable. It's emerging on the market. And we thought people wouldn't cringe as much with cricket as they would if we said, "We're going to have to give you this kind of fly or mealworms" or something like that. And there were some companies that were willing to donate the cricket powder to us as well so that was helpful.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. I think that's something for people to remember too. That you're not getting a bag of fully formed crickets. They've been ground down, right?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: It was, yeah. It just looked like a brown gritty flour. And the way that we got people to eat them is we baked the cricket powder into muffins. And then we also made these shakes. We use a malt base and added the cricket powder into the shakes. And then we asked people to mix them with their favorite milk or liquid and consume them. And so every morning for two weeks they would drink a cricket shake and eat a cricket muffin for breakfast.

Andrea Wien: Okay. And what did you find out at the end of this two weeks?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: So this study was what's called a crossover design, which means that everybody served as their own control. So they spent two weeks eating just a muffin and a shake that we formulated to be similar in nutritional value to the cricket, it had obviously a little bit less protein and it didn't have the chitin. And then they had a wash out period, and then they have the cricket, or some people would start on the cricket and then move to the control. So everybody's served as their own control. And these were all young, healthy individuals, mostly normal weight. So we really didn't expect that we were going to see very much.

                        And we were very surprised to see that there was an increase on the cricket diet with Bifidobacterium animalis, which is a common commercial probiotic. And everybody had to refrain from taking commercial probiotics while they were on the study. So we know that it wasn't from that. And then we were looking at inflammatory markers in the blood, and we saw that there was a decrease in one that's called TNF alpha. And TNF alpha is something that's increased in people who have inflammatory gut conditions. And so to see this decrease in a healthy population was really shocking and exciting for us.

Andrea Wien: Is the chitin, the type of prebiotic that is feeding the probiotics that you're talking about you saw an increase for and that not many other things do that?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: That's what we think. Now we fed them a whole cricket powder so we really can't limit it to just the chitin. And so that's some of the follow-up studies for that, that we're looking into or trying to explore more. What are the specific impacts of chitin? Can Bifidobacterium use chitin? Can all Bifidobacterium use chitin and the animalis was just what was more common in our human population? And so that's some of the follow-up work that we're doing with that study.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. It automatically leads me to thinking about more indigenous populations or hunter gatherers who did eat insects and we see such a more diverse microbiome in those populations than we do in someone who's living more "civilized" or westernized lifestyle. So I wonder if this key of diversity is not only from the plants that we're eating, but also from these other insects that maybe we are getting on plants as we're hunting and gathering or we're specifically seeking them out.

Dr. Tiffany Weir: Absolutely. I think there's a pretty big argument that microbial diversity corresponds with diet diversity and it hasn't been scientifically proven yet. In fact, there are some studies that came out pretty recently that suggests that maybe that's not the case, but they were studies in an American population only. So I think that they're not necessarily conclusive, but yeah, I think that that's an intriguing idea that the broader variety of foods you have, the more substrates you're introducing, the more diverse community of microorganisms that you can actually cultivate in your gut.

Andrea Wien: So learning all of this, what is your diet look like now? Are you incorporating crickets into your daily meal plan?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: I have not incorporated crickets into my daily meal plan, but my teenager eats them pretty regularly. I had a bag, we did a kid's nutrition camp in my department over the summer. And they did some cricket baking for a foods around the world theme for the camp. And my son took the crickets that were left over and these weren't ground in powder. They were just these dried crickets. And he would just munch on them like potato chips. And then we went to a restaurant recently and they had crickets on the menu and he ordered a plate full of crickets and just ate them again like potato chips.

Andrea Wien: Yeah, I was down in Mexico, in Oaxaca a couple of years ago. And the same thing, just outside the markets they're selling different types of insects that have been fried and covered in chili powder. Or we went to a really high end restaurant and they were serving ants and they're delicious exactly like you're saying, they're crispy, they're crunchy when they're salted or seasoned, you really can't tell the difference between many junk foods. And obviously we're starting to see the benefits in the research now that they're much healthier.

Dr. Tiffany Weir: Yeah, absolutely. And I think people like me, it's still hard for me. I've tasted them. I ate them muffins when they're hidden. I don't have a problem with them, but I just can't get my brain around it. I've been too conditioned. But if you get to the people young enough and get them started so that there isn't this taboo against it, I think that it's a lot easier because like I said, the kids loved it.

Andrea Wien: Well you make an interesting distinction too, is you weren't necessarily serving "healthy foods" when you were giving them this cricket powder and you still saw these benefits. So taking this type of protein out of something that might have a lot of sugar or be really high in refined carbs and putting it into something healthier, we could maybe surmise that it would even have more benefits.

Dr. Tiffany Weir: Absolutely. We joke around a lot about that actually. They weren't the unhealthiest muffins. One of my students formulated the recipe and she's a type one diabetic. So they were fairly low sugar. Although, she did put enough to make them taste good to other people. But yeah, they weren't the healthiest foods. And we've talked about when we do a follow-up study, we will work with a food company that can help us formulate something like a protein bar that is a little bit healthier than the muffins and the shakes that we gave people.

Andrea Wien: So looking forward, you mentioned a little bit about what's coming next in some of this research. But what are you really most excited about in this space?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: I think that personalization of diets based on microbiome is a really, really exciting concept. There are some companies out there that are doing it right now. I don't know that it's quite ready for prime time yet. I think that a lot of those companies are maybe just still giving recommendations for healthy diets and that's fine too. If it's getting people to change what they eat, because they think that it's tailored specifically to them, then that's great. But I do think that there is the possibility out there to start looking at people's microorganisms, see what they have, see what they're lacking and use that to tailor these diets, to optimize their microbiomes, to optimize health down the road.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. We're excited about that too. And definitely as you continue to do more research, we'd love to continue to have you on the show and hear about what's going on in the cutting edge. So thank you so much for coming on and chatting with us about this. If people want to learn more about your work or follow what your current research projects are, where can they find you?

Dr. Tiffany Weir: I would say that my ResearchGate site is probably the most up-to-date. So all of our publications are on there and I have links to full texts for most of them. And if the full text isn't there and people want to read something, if they send a request, I do eventually get to those.

Andrea Wien: Perfect we'll link to all of that in the show notes as well at biohmblog.com. So Tiffany, thank you so much. We hope to talk to you soon.

Dr. Tiffany Weir: Great. Thank you.

Andrea Wien: As always, thanks so much for listening to the show. To learn more about Dr. Weir's research, head to her show notes page at biohmeblog.com under the podcast heading. As a reminder, that's biohmblog.com. Until next time, I'm Andrea Wien.

 

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  • Episode 46: Your Oral Health = Your Body's Health
    Episode 46: Your Oral Health = Your Body's Health

    The oral microbiome, when it's not balanced properly, can have a major effect on overall systemic health and the microbiome of the entire body.  

  • Episode 45: What If A Probiotic Could Change Your Personality? [Straight From The Gut]
    Episode 45: What If A Probiotic Could Change Your Personality? [Straight From The Gut]

    Maybe you’re on board with the fact that microbes help you digest your food and even regulate your hormones. Maybe you’re totally cool with knowing that they play a vital...