April 15, 2024

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What Role Does our Microbiome Play in a Healthy Diet? – with Tim Spector

2 min read



There’s a lot of conflicting info out there about how to eat healthily. Tim Spector studies the microbiome to gain insight into how its diversity can impact health outcomes.
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The microbiome is the community of 100 trillion microbes that live in our colon that are like a virtual organ. This organ is key to our digestion, appetite, mood, metabolism, and control of our immune system. It is also key to how we respond to immunotherapy and chemotherapy. The TwinsUK cohort of 12,000+ twins has been running for nearly 25 years and is now the most intensively studied group of humans on the planet (www.twinsuk.ac.uk). Having deep sequence, metabolites, epigenetics, immune traits and dietary and health data, in 2012 a stool collection for 16S microbiome, metagenomes and metabolomics was added. They are currently using the microbiome data and cohort to provide novel measures of health, such as the level of microbial diversity and a new measure – the microbial health index and how this impacts overall health outcomes. Tim Spector’s team’s twin work has also enabled them to gain insights into the microbiome and immune interactions of the upper colon and small intestine via colonoscopy and interventions. Every medical professional needs to know about maintaining a healthy microbiome from birth to death.

Tim Spector is a Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Director of the TwinsUK Registry at Kings College, London and has recently been elected to the prestigious Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

This talk was filmed in the Ri on 15 October 2018.


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29 thoughts on “What Role Does our Microbiome Play in a Healthy Diet? – with Tim Spector

  1. Dairy & animal testing causes animal suffering ,we must not cause harm in our Life to promote ourselves ,as everything is connected .If one hurts we all hurt . Plant based foods give us all that we require to stay healthy ….fact .

  2. I have lived all my life on a diet considered by all as highly dangerous not by choice but by genetic makeup. I do not produce any of the enzyme required to metabolize Fructose fruit sugar.
    So I have not been able to eat any fruit or vegetables my whole life.
    I am now 63. Able to walk up mountains, and nearly keep up with a group of 30 year olds over an assault course! I am still fit enough to join the British army. I do not work out or exercise at all.
    My blood pressure is fine and my cholesterol level is medium (3)
    I eat only meat, cheese, sugar free bread, rice and pasta. Occasionally I will eat potato chips and green leaves of cabbage spinach floppy lettice and watercress. However I also eat a lot of herbs and whole seeds of spices. Such as fennel, coriander, celery seeds etc etc.
    Not having been diagnosed until I was in my mid 20's and not receiving any worthwhile dietary advice ever from so called professional dietitians. I finally worked out what I could and could not safely eat only about 15 years ago. I recently had an MRI and ultrasound scan of my liver. We were expecting considerable damage from the decades of poor diet. My liver is enlarged about 100mm wider than it should be however there was no sign of damage or residual fatty deposits. The world expert on this condition Professor T Cox of Addenbrooks hospital Cambridge was amazed. He was expecting substantial damage as he had seen in other patents. I do have to eat probiotic yogurt every day and supplement my dietary fibre intake with none digestible fibre. I am now setting up a support group to help parents of HFI children and anyone diagnosed with the same genetic abnormality. I have linked all the English speaking social media support pages to this lecture. It is a really important source of information.

  3. What an excellent talk. Excited to apply this to my life and diet, and potentially look towards getting a microbiome analysis post dietary corrections!!

  4. This video was stuck in my "watch later" playlist for too long! Great talk and certainly seems like a promising field.
    Anyone read the book and recommend it??

  5. If he addressed this I apologize in advance as I must have missed it, but how does the manner in which the foods are prepared affect the microbe profile? Are we defeating the purpose of diversifying if we boil or bake the sources?

  6. Great presentation. Look forward to further research into this topic. Note: I think Dr. Spector misspoke at 19:00, when he says, "…those who had high fiber diets lost less weight…" Someone earlier commented, "When was this from?", stating that "this advice is from 15-20 years ago". Actually, there was "talk" about one's biome being affected by diet, medications, etc., but there was no way to meaningfully research it,…until the development and refinement of high through-put DNA sequencing. Up until about ten years ago, it would have been nearly impossible and prohibitively expensive to accurately identify (i.e., determine the exact DNA sequences) of the literally thousands of separate species of bacteria and archaea in the gut biome. Only after this technology was developed was it possible to accurately assess and derive causal links between the gut biome, (specific spectra of thousands of species of microbes), and various medical disorders – and doing this comparing the biomes of thousands of different people. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA_sequencing

  7. Fat gutted people were on high fibre but slimmer people were on low fibre? And then the more they increased their fibre intake the more weight they lost?? Would help if this talk actually made sense!!

  8. I am a retired physician studying Whole Food Plant Based nutrition where the amount of prebiotic fiber is pivotal for the bugs. Wonderful presentation, indeed a timely insight to many recent publications but with personnel (n=1), clinical and research data. The 'soil food web' is yielding similar recognition as to soil health. New vistas! Thanks.

  9. Excellent presentation on a very timely and relevant topic.
    Is there a study in the U.S. which is the equivalent of the 'British Gut Project' in determining an individual's microbiome diversity?

  10. I find myself wanting to get my doctor to watch this video. Fascinating and actually full of helpful and non extreme advice. Excellent presentation. Thank you.

  11. Glyphosate is an antibiotic sprayed on everything and it is necessary for nothing. It tricks organisms into thinking it is glycine, horrible results, liver offloads toxins into fat, causing obesity?

  12. Very interesting and helpful. Professor Tim Spector has been researching for many years and I am proud to have been a part of his research over the many years previous with my twin sister. They are still asking for more volunteers all the time. Especially with this gut research, as this will help us understand how our body works towards what we eat and drink and were we live and our life style. I hope in the coming future there will be more help and understanding for our wellbeing. Well done to you Tim Spector.

  13. Very interesting subject. The speaker, unfortunately, falls into the same trap he is warning everyone against. He makes the study of microbiome into a sensational discovery that trumps all dietary research up to this point and presents it as religion. But if you can bear through the stories of how no one had heard of "Kefir" before he wrote a book mentioning it and the condescending tone, it was an informative video.

  14. I believe if one overpopulates ones microbiome through probiotics that contain a random selection of "good" bacteria species based on nothing but statistics, the best way to get a re-do at a balancing action is to include fasting, simply to reduce the number of bacteria present in the gut.

    These bacteria are constantly multiplying, dieing, fighting over resources, just like animals in nature or fish in the ocean. What you feed them determine which ones get the upper hand. It IS an ecosystem. If you take plenty of probiotics and eat lots of fiber, it's possible a species of bacteria that doesn't suit you overpopulates your intestine and it won't die off or be countered by other species until it's source of nutrition is lessened or lost.

  15. When was this from? This is advice you would have heard 15-20 years ago. I have watched so many lectures from top experts and follow all of the clinical trials and the watch he saying that we think is from decades ago. There are too many people who think high-fat diets are the problem now. We all know processed high sugar foods is a big problem and yet he’s we all still think the former. There were many things he say like this. He wasn’t completely wrong. It’s like he researched online and took half the information from now and half the information from the 1980’s or 1990’a. Some of the stuff contradicted what all the researcher working solely on gut bacteria. I know he’s a doctor but that certainly doesn’t mean he knew anything about gut bacteria other then what he has read online. Matter of fact he said this much at the beginning of the lecture. Just not in those exact words. But he did say that he tried old fashion diets to start with until he researched more. I am not at all impressed with this lecture and the information that he is passing out. It is true so it seems that gut bacteria is most likely responsible for obesity, diabetes 2, and many more chronic diseases. Take his advice with a grain of salt but do do as he says and vary your diet and the vegetables that you eat.

  16. "Fat this, fat that, stay away from fat"! All that nonsense people used to get told was nothing but fearmongering. It is not the fat itself that is harmful, it is how your body metabolises fats that is key to overall health. We need fat to maintain health, in fact, cholesterol production is so important, that your liver and intestines make about 80% of the cholesterol you need to stay healthy. Only about 20% comes from the foods you eat. Thus, it can be said that heart-decease is a byproduct of a malfunctioning of the liver and intestines' ability to regulate fat levels throughout your system.

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