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Episode 47: Baby Poo and Microbiome's Mission to Mars [Straight From The Gut]

Baby Poo and Microbiome's Mission to Mars

While you know that the microbiome is a hot topic, the world is finally starting to catch on. On this episode of The Microbiome Report, Afif joins Andrea to talk about the French government’s 5 billion Euro investment in "The Microbiota Revolution."

Plus, the two dive into a recent study that sheds new light on the implications of babies born by c-section versus vaginally, including higher BMIs and allergic sensitivity later in life. They also discuss research about how to narrow the microbial differences more quickly after birth (hint: there’s poo involved). And they round out this Straight From The Gut episode with a chat about what it might take, gut-wise, to get humans to Mars. 

Have your own questions or resources that you’d like the team to discuss on-air? Email them to, or reach out on Instagram @BIOHMHealth

Approximate Timestamps: 

Andrea Wien is joined by Afif Ghannoum. In today’s episode we hear about a huge government fund in France dedicated to microbiome companies (3:07) The EU’s rules on regulation and research (5:37) A credit check for your gut (9:11) C-section babies are more likely to have a higher BMI (19:50) Newborns fed a tiny bit of their mother’s fecal matter to normalize microbiome at birth (24:30) An explanation of metabolites (29:37) and breaking down how healthy gut microbes are key for space travel to Mars (32:09) 

Mentioned On This Show:

BIOHM gut quiz 


Andrea Wien: Welcome to The Microbiome Report. I am your host, Andrea Wien and I just have a few housekeeping items before we dive into today's episode. We have redesigned the BIOHM site, so our show notes have found a new home, which can be a little bit confusing if you've listened to past episodes and are trying to find the show notes. If you're looking for this episode or any past episode notes, you can go to and you'll find them all there. I also want to just share some goodness with everyone that BIOHM is offering 10% off of any product on their site with the code BIOHM10 it's B-I-O-H-M 10 one zero. If you've been eyeing something on their site, go check it out. I also just want to make an ask that if you've been listening to the show and haven't left us a review yet I would be so thrilled if you could do that today. The reviews and ratings really make such a huge difference in the visibility of each episode and in our ability to continue to do what we do. Thank you so much in advance for helping us out.

Now let's get into this episode. I won't say too much about it other than this, as a straight from the gut episode where I rift with Afif Ghannoum, the CEO of BIOHM about the latest research and the state of the industry. This is really a far reaching episode. We get into everything from major funding for the space to babies and Mars. Enjoy the show.

Afif, how's it going?

Afif Ghannoum: Good. How are you?

Andrea Wien: I'm good. It's like every time we do these, another month has passed and I just can't even really believe it.

Afif Ghannoum: I know and I was just saying earlier, I can't believe it's eight months into COVID, which is just blowing my mind.

Andrea Wien: I know everyone was like, "Oh, by the fall, things will be back to normal." Now it's like, well, who even knows?

Afif Ghannoum: Well, I was saying to my wife, I remember saying in like May, "Do you think people would be like up for coming over for a party in August?" and like, my God, it's just, it's really insane.

Andrea Wien: I know. I know. Anyway, moving on, we're not going to talk about COVID today so if anyone is feeling fatigued on that, don't worry. We're staying far away from that topic and really exciting news actually, the first thing that we have teed up to talk about is this huge government fund in France. The French government basically approved a fund that's going to devote over five billion Euro to microbiome companies before the end of 2022. In the article, they mentioned that they're going to focus on microbiota revolution is what they're calling it. This is going to include drugs, nutritional solutions, diagnostics, biomarkers, and then this fund's also making investments in like digital therapeutics, personalized nutrition and personalized medicine, food tech. Then very interestingly, they are also offering co-investment with corporate players like Novartis and Nestle and Kellogg's and Tyson. I mean five billion Euro by 2022 is a pretty bold statement.

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah, it's huge. There's two ways to look at this, right? In one hand, I believe that's the biggest dedicated fund to the microbiome to date. It's definitely a giant piece of validation. It's interesting that it's a government because usually governments go one of two ways. They either go over the top and they are willing to invest in stuff that's still a little too early because they know a lot of companies are having a tough time getting funding. An easy example of that is like, remember 10 years ago, Obama administration did a lot of big clean energy investments that ended up being a little bit of a boondoggle, but they were doing it because they were like if we don't support it, it's going to be hard for the private industry to support it. I think that's important. What's interesting is contextually as a fund five billion, and now it is Euro so let's just easy math say that's seven and a half to 10 billion US. I'm not sure what the conversion is.

Andrea Wien: I would say probably around seven is more likely.

Afif Ghannoum: Okay. Yeah. $7 billion, right? Obviously that's a lot of money, but there's two things that are probably important context. One, a single drug to develop is probably a billion dollar proposition. You know what I mean? It's a lot of money, but it's still, they will likely need others to help co-invest, especially if it is microbiome therapeutics, but two there's a lot of investment funds that are like several multiples of that. You know what I mean? To me, it's super encouraging that you have a major government putting up that kind of funding, but that's like the tip of the iceberg that we'll need, if microbiome therapeutics are really going to come to fruition. When we say therapeutics, I always like to explain that, that's different than probiotics or microbiome tests and stuff. Therapeutic's really another word for like a true FDA approved drug. When you think of a therapeutic think of like cancer drugs and all these things, it is a huge undertaking.

Andrea Wien: From your experience working in the US obviously does the French government, does the EU have different rules around what can be called a therapeutic? What does that space look like? Is it more advanced than where we are now? I know with STEM cells, for example we're kind of held back a bit from some of the stuff that's happening in Europe. Where does this play?

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah, that's a great question and as we were talking, I can't remember the name of the European FDA. It looks like it's the EMA. Yeah, that makes sense because there's like a CE Mark for medical devices in Europe so it, EMA is like the FDA equivalent in Europe.

It's interesting. Some things are easier to market both nutritionally and as drugs in Europe versus the US and then some things are much more difficult. A lot of companies that I have dealt with, they all actually go to Europe to get approvals first, then come back to the US because it's actually considered easier a lot of times. It's still very rigorous. If you get something approved in Europe, it's sterling standard, but you know, it's not like there's one sort of, oh it's easier to gets things across the finish line in Europe versus the US. They're both pretty rigorous. It just depends on the category. For example, probiotics in Europe, I'm 99% sure are much more heavily regulated than they are in the US so it'll be interesting to see what that actually means. Did you see in the article, did that mean they would also fund things that are in the US or is it just European focus?

Andrea Wien: It said that they were looking for co-investment internationally, which would lead me to believe that it would be US-based as well.

Afif Ghannoum: Well and the other thing, context-wise, there's a lot of big players that are actually, if not in France, right around France. Dannon, which everybody thinks of as yogurt, but that's a company that does all sorts of big microbiotic work based in, I believe Paris and you have Unilever who does a lot of stuff based in London. It's not really surprising that it's coming out of France. France in the microbiome world, they're one of the sort of innovators in the microbiome science space so pretty interesting.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. Very interesting. I'm just looking here, the last sentence does say they'll invest in a similar number of companies, the ones that they list and we'll of course, link to this in the show notes so people can check it out with a global geography, but with a focus on Europe.

Afif Ghannoum: Interesting.

Andrea Wien: All right, moving on. There was a study that came out and it's essentially a credit score for your gut health. They're calling it the gut microbiome health index. I'll just give you a quick rundown on what it is, and then we can dig into what we think about it. It can essentially predict a person's general health by measuring the levels of 50 gut microbial species. The scientist used over 4,000 stool samples. 2,600 of those came from healthy subjects with no diagnosed illness and the rest came from non-healthy people.

They had things like colon cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity, and they essentially honed in on 50 specific microbes that could be used to kind of come up with this score. They said that 43 of the species were scarce and seven species were prevalent. Then once they did that, they validated those findings with another set of stool samples and found that they could distinguish between healthy and non-healthy with a little bit over 73% accuracy. My question was like, is 50 gut microbial species. Is that too narrow? We know we have, I don't know, hundreds, thousands of microbes in there, and a lot of questions came up for me around this. I'd love to hear your thoughts and then I can riff on it again.

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah, so there's a couple of thoughts. First to answer your question. That doesn't surprise me because even when my dad, who, for the listeners at home, he's Dr. Ghannoum. He's the scientist who named the mycobiome, the fungal community in our body. When we developed our microbiome test, we really honed in on 60 core microbiome organisms that are really critical and have been identified to have a key role in health and wellness. The fact that they're focusing on 50, actually it doesn't surprise me. Why is that? Why when you're right, there are thousands, if not more different organisms, it's really two answers. One, a lot of those are transient, which means they'll be introduced into your body, usually through like a food. If you eat jalapenos or something, you'll get some organisms that will be in your gut for a couple of days, and then they'll keep moving. Those are really not relevant to your health.

The other though, is that it's only like I said, around probably 60, that we have a ton of data around with implications to health and wellness. I'm surmising that they're focusing in on those organisms that they feel have the highest level of data around them. That's what they're using as indicators. It's not that the other ones aren't relevant it's that these are the ones with the most data. With that being said, there's two things that I would point out. One, it still means one in four times it's not accurate. Now that doesn't mean it's bad. It's actually very positive that one, three out of four people, they can sort of guess your health, but it means it's still early days, right? Because when you're talking about accuracy, especially the implications of this type of finding is that they could take it a step further and say, "Okay, well, if we can tell you're healthy, we can probably tell you're ill. If we can tell you ill, we can probably tell you have this condition."

That's the hope with all of these sort of microbiome diagnostics. We're still a ways away from there because you're talking about 25% of the time that they couldn't. That doesn't surprise me because there's a lot of factors that influence your microbiome health like we've talked about many times, but a big one in particular is your genetics and your, obviously your diet too. Those two things can have a big interplay with your microbiome levels. It would surprise me that they're able to get at least at this stage, that level of accuracy. It's very interesting and listen, that's a major medical institution like that side of like Cleveland clinic, probably the leader. It's pretty interesting that they're able to do that because that's been the big missing part.

When we're doing our microbiome tests, we're able to help you optimize your nutrition, help you really do things to bring your gut into balance, but we don't diagnose whether you're healthy or not because the science has not been there to do that. It is a big deal that they're able to do this and the fact that they've validated it. What I'm actually going to do after we're off, I'm going to call my dad and say, hey, listen, they've done this with, I think you said 4,000 samples overall, is that right?

Andrea Wien: 4,347 to be exact.

Afif Ghannoum: Gotcha. We have several factors bigger than that in our data set. I'm going to ask my dad can we validate it and look at these organisms, see if we're able to do that, because that could be pretty interesting.

Andrea Wien: You brought up the points that I was thinking about too, just in terms of ethnic and geographical populations they probably didn't look at a large enough sample to be able to say like definitively across the board, this is what healthy 50 microbial species looks like. Maybe it is different in Africa or Europe or some of these other, New Zealand where they're a little bit off the grid.

Afif Ghannoum: Let me pause you there maybe, right?

Andrea Wien: Yeah, maybe. Right.

Afif Ghannoum: Because the thing and we've talked about before is people have to remember that the vast majority of drugs we use that are prescription were approved with clinical trials, likely under a thousand people and the data shows that most of the time, those people are Caucasian, right? The reality is sort of the state of science is usually not even using numbers as big as their sample set, which to me, I always like to mention, because I think we're in an age when you hear about data and a lot of times we think of data in terms of not just scientific data, but like technological data, like our personal data, all these things, like we think, oh my God, for it to be effective, we need millions of units right that's not necessarily true. You know, it's kind of interesting what that delta would be to be able to go to a level that FDA, for example, feels like, yep. We feel good that you can use this.

Andrea Wien: Yeah, for sure. I think, and even in the article, they say that they hope that this analysis could somehow be incorporated into our routine health checkups every year, which is something that we've talked about this is going to become standard. I think this is a huge step forward. Three out of four, I mean, in the first preliminary stages of development is pretty good.

Afif Ghannoum: Actually you bring up a really good point because I don't know why this is occurring to me, but there's a lot of tests that if you are positive for or negative, then they do much further testing right? That initial test is really not that accurate. The one that off the top of my head, I can think of that is what, when we were expecting with our children, we did a test to detect Down Syndrome. I remember it was not definitive, but it was enough that if you were positive for it, they would do further testing. I could see in the microbiome being used in a similar way that it's almost used as an initial flag, but maybe it never actually rises to that level of we're using this as like an end all be all test.

Andrea Wien: Yeah, for sure. Then I guess the question is at this stage, do we have that deeper testing? Right? Is this as far as we can go right now and then we need-

Afif Ghannoum: It could point you to other things, right? It could point you to like, okay, well maybe I'm, I just turned 40 this year. I went and did sort of like the physical you do when you're a 40 year old man. It was pretty underwhelming of how the doctor determined what to test me for. Do you know what I mean? It was like, well, we'll do these blood panels and yeah, that's probably about right. You know what I mean? Whereas opposed to if I did a test like this, maybe they're like, oh interesting. This seems to indicate there may be some other issues. You know what we typically don't test like your liver at this age, we're going to test that. We're going to test these other issues and do like additional blood panels. It could be that it just unlocks them wanting to do additional testing that you typically wouldn't do. You know?

Andrea Wien: Definitely. I think too, what'll be interesting. This is something I've talked to your dad about. Does the microbiome become dysbiotic before disease or does the disease drive the dysbiotic microbiome? If we could start to say, it's actually like you have dysbiosis first before any of these other symptoms occur and we can pinpoint that and say, "Oh, look, this is maybe even years before you start to show symptoms of something else." We can say that the microbiome was dysbiotic, like that's huge to be able to have prevention and get in front of something.

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah. The last thing because I know we're trying to cover a bunch of things. The last thing that I'd be interested in knowing is the age range of those samples, because one of the things you made me think about is another big impact on your microbiome is the medication you're taking, right? That would typically start to skew older too, as you start to take more medications as you age. It'd be interesting to see to your point, is it like self-fulfilling or are they, the other thing is, are they hitting people that are unhealthy and that's causing their microbiome, just what you're saying to actually go out of whack. That's where it's super interesting they've figured this out, but now they're going to have to really delve in.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. It definitely sounded like in the article again, which we'll link to that those are all questions that they're asking too.

Afif Ghannoum: Awesome.

Andrea Wien: All right. This next kind of track, we had a lot of things come through that were about babies and microbiome of kids and birth specifically. The kind of, they're all loosely tied to each other. I'll try to loop them in, but we'll start with the first one. There was a study that came out, it was published in Gastroenterology Journal and it showed that infants born by C-section were likely, more likely to have a high body mass index score at the ages of one and three. Then when those researchers examined the microbiomes at three months, they found an altered ratio of two types of bacteria that were dominant in overweight kids.

Then at 12 months the same thing. They also found at 12 months, some bacteria that are the main pathways for allergies. The takeaway was essentially that what happens to us at birth, having a complicated birth, having a C-section, having like a vacuum assisted birth, these types of things can trigger multiple and common gut microbial pathways that are leading kids to become overweight and allergic sensitive. To me, this was a big deal because I think that when you look at the numbers of how we're trending in terms of C-sections in the country, it's going the wrong way. The average is something around like 30% of women get a C-section when in actuality it's probably closer to under 10% that actually need one and we don't have to get into all the factors.

Afif Ghannoum: Well did you know, in Brazil it's something like 95% of women have C-sections?

Andrea Wien: Yeah. Yeah. It's because of, they just wanted to have it scheduled and have it be-

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah.

Andrea Wien: Yeah.

Afif Ghannoum: There are parties, like the whole family comes. That just blew my mind.

Andrea Wien: I completely agree, but you know, we're really starting, I mean, we've known now for a while that the microbiomes of kids that are born vaginally versus C-section are wildly different and you know, the next study actually talks about that too, and why that might be, but I think it's just important to pause and say like, okay, wait a minute, we're doing this very common procedure, but maybe actually it's going to have some long lasting impacts that we don't even know about yet. We're starting to identify obesity and allergies and all these types of things, but what else is important that, that microbiome is in place from the very beginning.

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah. Listen, it's very much a butterfly effect, right? We don't understand something that we're doing at this point could it have vast ramifications. Again, I always I'm a big fan of sometimes taking a step back and realizing that as sophisticated as we are like scientifically, all these things a hundred years ago, we would if someone was hurting war that they would basically get them drunk and cut their leg off and hope for the best. Do you know what I mean? We're not, we're like a person and a half removed from that being the state of medicine, they didn't even realize germs were an issue till whatever it was probably 120 years ago.

It's very much still an art as much of it as it is a science so to your point, like some of these things that now we're taking as, and I think what you were kind of getting at is these are increasingly being done for cosmetic or convenience reasons and there are real ramifications to that so I think, again, it's just going to get more acute as we start to further appreciate the role of that process in setting it up for health throughout your life. Right? It's very fascinating. Then the other thing that's kind of interesting is, and I don't know if you, I'm, this is more just me being curious. Do you know if there's any social economic sort of bent to who is typically getting a C-section? Do you have any clue about that?

Andrea Wien: I'm not sure. I'm not sure. Actually it could go either way, right? It could be that wealthier women are scheduling them because they want the control and it could also be the other side where you have-

Afif Ghannoum: [crosstalk] Doctor almost wants to control it.

Andrea Wien: Exactly, exactly. Yeah. I'm not sure, we'd have to dig into that.

Afif Ghannoum: That's where it would be interesting to me to understand my mind where it instantly went to is this is, this could be very much an issue of correlation versus causation and are there other issues like the diet of the child? You know what I mean? Is that playing a role versus it just being about the microbiota. That's where this gets really interesting, right? Is it sort of no false positive as a causation, but I don't know. There's definitely obviously data. I don't know if we've talked about this, but there was, there's been cases of fecal transplant where I think it was a mother and a daughter, one of them had C. diff and the healthy one who was obese donated fecal matter for the transplant and the other one became better, got rid of C. diff, but then they became obese. It seemed to indicate there was some sort of correlation there. We definitely know that microbiota has a role with obesity, but it's interesting at that age to see what that role would be.

Andrea Wien: Yeah, absolutely. There's so many factors involved. I'm looking at, I just pulled up socioeconomic stuff for C-sections and there's very conflicting things. On one study it said that let's see low socioeconomic women are more likely to have C-sections, but then another one it said participants with middle wealth were 44% more likely to have C-section compared to those in the poorest group. I guess it depends how you're slicing the pie. It's not definitive.

Afif Ghannoum: That's interesting.

Andrea Wien: Well, okay. Going back to that piece on fecal transplant. That was the other piece of this and when people have C-sections, now there's a lot of talk of vaginal seeding, which essentially is just taking a swab from the mother, from her vagina and then wiping it all over the baby. I mean, it's a little bit more than that, but essentially that's what you're doing and it's not always very successful.

There was a study that came out where they were basically feeding a tiny bit of fecal matter from the mother to the babies that were born by C-section and they found that instead of taking, typically it takes a full year for the transition to happen, where you start to see similarities between babies who were born by C-section babies, who were born vaginally. With this, their microbiomes resembled vaginally born babies within three weeks. Obviously a big ick factor, right? Feeding your newborn baby your poop and obviously this should never be done at home. It's certainly done in the context of a study.

Afif Ghannoum: Did they talk about whether they, because when you do typically when you're doing fecal transplant, like that fecal matter is so rigorously, like processed and like encapsulated, like there's all sorts of things to make sure it's safe.

Andrea Wien: Yeah no. For this one it wasn't. They did test to make sure that the women had pathogen free samples. They were giving their own fecal matter to the babies and it was a fairly small study. I mean, it was 17 mothers who were preparing to give birth via C-section. They had their fecal samples scanned. Then after birth, the researchers mixed, it looks like 3.5 or seven milligrams of diluted fecal matter into five milliliters of breast milk and then that was fed to the babies.

Afif Ghannoum: Wow.

Andrea Wien: It's pretty, it was pretty just like, let's make sure there's nothing in here, but we're not going to clean it up. The researchers in this study also said, there's a reason that…Here. I'll read the exact quote actually. "There's a reason-"

Afif Ghannoum: [crosstalk] Where was this done?

Andrea Wien: A journalist in Paris reported on it. This was in Science Mag. I don't see exactly what country.

Afif Ghannoum: Interesting. Was it done in Europe? You don't know.

Andrea Wien: I don't know. I don't know. I have to dig into it a little bit more.

Afif Ghannoum: My initial thing is like every well, take a step back. Every clinical trial that's done in the US, you have to get what's called IRB approval, like institutional review board approval, which is basically like a committee making sure that the safety of people in the study is not going to be compromised, right, so I am shocked when a baby, especially a baby was just born that they'd be able to get IRB approval for something like that so that makes me think it wasn't done in the US that's really…

Andrea Wien: It does seem, all of the people that are quoted in this are in Europe, so it does seem like it was not here.

Afif Ghannoum: My view on this is, and obviously I believe in the power of the microbiome. I also believe babies at that point are so immunocompromised that if something's off, you're going to have a big issue, right? If there's candida in that fecal matter, if there's, I don't know, pathogens at super low levels, it could still cause issues with the baby. My initial thought is that's pretty wild. Obviously it sounds super promising, but that's one of those things like, wow.

Andrea Wien: I mean, I think too you bring up a good point. If these babies truly were being born via C-section because there was a problem, although it does say that these women were scheduled for C-section. I don't know that there was anything wrong with the baby. They did say the infants didn't experience any adverse effects during the study period, but again they mentioned that they don't know how much babies ingest naturally coming through the birth canal. Getting the right dose requires careful testing and they don't have that answer yet.

Afif Ghannoum: That's wild.

Andrea Wien: Very, yeah. Yeah. The one quote, I just want to do, I want to read it real quick just because I mentioned it earlier, I don't want to leave people hanging. It says, "There's a reason the orifice for having babies is next to the anal orifice in all vertebrates, this is natural selection, not random. It's a clear message from nature telling us we want the newborn to be exposed to feces."

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah, my response to that is kind of. That's one of those things, like on the backend, no pun intended, like you can say like maybe, but it's not a given that a child's going to ingest fecal matter. I, obviously I understand the relation to the two, but it's really, really fascinating actually.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. It's correlation versus causation for sure which is something we talk about. Then the last piece on this was after the baby's born we talk about breast milk and how important that is for seeding the microbiome. There was a new study that shed some light on why breastfed babies have different microbiomes than formula fed but really the story here is less about that and more about this technique that was developed. The technique allows researchers to go in and track specific nutrients as they're taken up by the gut microbes, they used a mouse's digestive tract to do this, and they could actually see which bacteria were eating different things and producing different metabolites. It's really the first study that reveals how specific metabolites promote specific growth of bacteria in the GI tract, which opens the door to be able to start telling patients if we could see how certain foods are interacting with their microbes and creating different metabolites, which is really just the by-product of everything that's in your gut, like what it's producing.

Afif Ghannoum: Well, that's what I was going to say. Maybe, it's worth taking a step back to explain what metabolites are because I know that's something that is just now getting into sort of the conversation.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. Do you want to take that?

Afif Ghannoum: Well, you're usually better at like making it not sound ornery, but...

Andrea Wien: Yeah. I mean, we have a whole episode on this too, with Aubrey Levitt. It was pretty early on I think maybe episode 14 or 15. She does a great job of explaining it, but essentially a metabolite is something that is produced as a by-product of metabolism. When you ingest something, your bacteria and fungi and everything that's in the gut are consuming it. Then what they, for lack of a better term excrete and come out the other end, those are called metabolites. Those can have wide reaching impacts we're starting to learn almost more so than the actual bacteria themselves for health. These are things like short chain, fatty acids is something that you may have heard of. This study specifically was looking at how those metabolites were produced and the interaction of how that created more bacterial growth in the GI tract.

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah. I think you said the critical thing is we could be sitting here 10 years from now realizing that it's the metabolites, that metabolites that are responsible for the health and wellness implications, more so than the organisms itself. You know what I mean? It's almost like the corn versus the husk. Right? In fact, my father's current NIH grant is specifically studying the mechanism of action of metabolites in the mycobiome, fungal community in the body. I think that is where we're going to end up having the conversation way more about metabolites over the coming years.

Andrea Wien: Yeah. I actually just met someone else who was a researcher at Case, and he's studying, he's in the immunology department and he is studying blood cancers. He said the metabolites are a huge factor in his research as well. It's definitely an area to watch.

I think to bring it back down just to like an everyday person, if we could have this type of technique available, maybe this is the next stage of the testing that we were talking about before. Right. You see something's off. Maybe we go to something like this technique and then we can actually tell patients, okay, eat these foods because they will promote certain metabolites. That will be what changes the composition of your microbiome, rather than just add these blanket probiotics or blanket approach for what foods we think might be helpful.

Afif Ghannoum: Very cool.

Andrea Wien: This last topic here is something that really made me laugh. I actually texted it to you when I saw it. I'll read the headline and I want your reaction and then we can kind of break down what it actually is about. It's Healthy Gut Microbes, Key for Space Travelers to Reach Mars.

Afif Ghannoum: My initial thought is I don't even know what that means other than I might try to take it like, is it going to allow them to hibernate? Is there something like, so fill me in.

Andrea Wien: Yeah, I think, I mean, it's really less interesting than it sounds. It just made me laugh because I feel like we're so far away and, and it just goes to show you like the microbiome is so hot now that it is literally being tied to anything and everything that we can talk about. It does just say that space in general can cause nausea, it can change the gut microbiome of the astronauts that are in space and this really leads to the breakdown of the complex relationship between our microbes and ourselves.

They were saying that when astronauts go to space, they see an increase in bacteria, that's associated with intestinal inflammation and a decrease in the anti-inflammatory ones. Really, as people start to do more space travel, giving them meals with lots of fiber, kick-starting their microbial metabolism before they go can be really helpful. I just love the last line of this. It says, "While future missions to Mars will undoubtedly look for evidence of microbial life on the red planet. This review suggests that it might be our homegrown microbes that will get us there."

Afif Ghannoum: Oh my God.

Andrea Wien: We'll end on that note, nothing really to talk about there, but we'll certainly link to it in the show notes. We did change the show notes. We redid the BIOHM site. They're at If you click on the blog and podcast tab, you'll find them and we will link to those in the description of this episode as well.

All right. Afif, thank you so much. It's always a great time.

Afif Ghannoum: Yeah. It's always fun. What I do love about this area is we will never run out of things to discuss from feeding babies poo to missions to Mars. It's really amazing.

Andrea Wien: If anyone out there has a topic that you have seen or want us to riff on-

Afif Ghannoum: [crosstalk] Or a question.

Andrea Wien: Email it to us, or a question. Yes. Anything. We are all ears at Afif thank you as always. We'll talk soon.

Afif Ghannoum: All right. Take care.

Andrea Wien: Bye. Thanks as always for listening, don't forget you have access to 10% off at BIOHM's site on any product with the code BIOHM10 and while you're there, check out all the show notes for this episode, including all the links to the studies we mentioned at Until next time, I'm Andrea Wien.


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