A research paper originally published in the journal Nature, titled “Hunter gatherer lifestyle fosters thriving gut microbiome” studied the gut microbiome of the Hadza, a hunter-gatherer tribe in Tanzania, and drew correlations to their rate of disease and overall health.
NOTE: You do need to subscribe to Nature to view the full article, but I’m here to unpack it for you, and even expand upon its findings.
The study compared the gut microbiomes of Hadza hunter-gatherers in Tanzania with those of people living in industrialized societies such as the United States.
The Hadza have a much more diverse gut microbiome than people in industrialized societies, and their gut microbes contain fewer genes associated with responding to oxidative damage. The researchers believe that the Hadza's healthy gut microbiome is due to their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle, which includes a diet high in fiber, animal protein, and low in processed foods.
The study also found that the Hadza's gut microbiome is more similar to the gut microbiomes of our ancient ancestors than the gut microbiomes of people living in industrialized societies. This suggests that our modern diet and lifestyle may be contributing to the decline in gut microbial diversity.
The researchers hope that their findings will help to improve our understanding of the role of the gut microbiome in human health. They believe that studying the gut microbiomes of non-Western populations, such as the Hadza, could help us to identify microbes that are beneficial for human health and to develop interventions that can restore gut microbial diversity in people living in industrialized societies.
Rate of Disease in the Hadza
The rate of disease is lower in the Hadza than in Western, industrialized societies. This is likely due to a number of factors, including their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
The study published in Nature found that the Hadza have a much lower prevalence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer than people living in industrialized societies. The study also found that the Hadza have a much lower incidence of infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.
Noteworthy about all of the above is the complete lack of any traditional medical care in Hadza society, including pharmaceutical drug interventions.
It’s All in the Microbiome Biodiversity
The average gut microbiome biodiversity is significantly lower in Western industrialized nations than in non-Western hunter-gatherer societies, meaning tribal societies like the Hadza have a wider range of total species of healthy bacteria in their gut.
The above study found that the Hadza have a gut microbiome that is 44% more diverse than the gut microbiomes of people living in industrialized societies.
The researchers believe that this difference in gut microbiome diversity is due to a number of factors, including diet, lifestyle, and exposure to environmental factors.
One could easily draw a correlation between the greater biodiversity in gut microbiome of the Hadza, and their diet rich in whole, “living” foods, and the absence of an overtly sterilized environment, leading to more exposure to beneficial bacteria, as cleaning and sterilizing not only kills bad bacteria, but also kills good bacteria, and there’s far more beneficial bacteria worth being exposed to, than there are pathogenic bacteria.
The lower gut microbiome diversity in Western industrialized nations is associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. In fact, the #1 correlation researchers can draw between the higher incidence of chronic disease in Western societies is the lower gut microbiome diversity.
Gut Microbiome & Gene Expression
Did you know 90% of serotonin, your body’s “feel good” neurotransmitter, is produced in the gut!?
Your gut microbiome functions like a second brain, and different bacteria strains control different processes in the body, release anti-inflammatory and anti-aging enzymes, and control your gene expression. This all could be why greater gut microbiome diversity correlates to less disease and better overall health. Plain and simple, if you have a greater diversity in specific strains of bacteria, you have more bacteria that do more of these beneficial things.
Gene expression is the process by which the information encoded in genes is converted into a functional product, such as a protein. This process is essential for all life, as it allows cells to synthesize the proteins they need to function.
The percentage of gene expression that comes from the gut microbiome is not yet fully understood. However, studies have shown that the gut microbiome can influence the expression of genes involved in a variety of functions, including metabolism, immunity, and neurological development.
One study found that the gut microbiome could account for up to 15% of the variation in gene expression in the liver. Another study found that the gut microbiome could influence the expression of genes involved in obesity and insulin resistance.
It is thought that the gut microbiome can influence gene expression through a variety of mechanisms, including the production of metabolites, the modulation of the immune system, and the production of signaling molecules.
Okay, okay, you get it, your gut bacteria does all kinds of amazing things to keep you healthy and maintain homeostasis (and remember, if the body maintains homeostasis, it doesn’t develop disease), and improving biodiversity in your gut is critical to this, but the fact of the matter is, we live in a Westernized society, so what do we do?
Tips to Improve Gut Microbiome Diversity
- Get outside and be willing to get dirty. The soil in the ground contains 10x more bacteria than the air does. Furthermore, getting outside in different environments will also expose you to new strains of bacteria. In short, go to new places outside and at minimum, get those bare feet in the grass.
- Eat whole, organic, unprocessed foods. Food that is sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides (which are all getting stronger and stronger as well) kill the beneficial bacteria found naturally on our food from the air and soil. Then, when you process food, you sterilize it, thus removing any remaining “living” nature to it.
- Avoid antibacterial soaps and cleaning products. “Antibacterial” means all bacteria good and bad. “Kills 99.9% of germs” is not a good thing, as most of said “germs” are beneficial. Remember, the Hadza have a much lower rate of infectious disease as well because they have more gut microbiome diversity, which naturally staves off pathogenic infection. Opt for cleaning and personal care products using natural oils and ingredients
- Eat/drink fermented foods. Fermented foods produce much higher rates of probiotics as they form naturally in the fermentation process. Work foods and drinks into your diet like kombucha, kefir, kimchi, yogurt, and sauerkraut. Choose the ones you like best, and make sure they’re still “living” foods as we tend to process fermented foods as well like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
- Supplement with probiotics. This is a very easy way to get the benefits of beneficial bacteria in your gut. I recommend this probiotic from Just Thrive, as it’s a combination of probiotic spores, which will actually “re-seed” your gut and increase biodiversity.
- Avoid over-the-counter synthetic medicines that destroy your gut microbiome like NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve), antacids, among others.
Last week I did a breakdown between animal and plant protein, citing actual clinical research, and from the perspective of what is objectively more bioavailable to the body for its intended purpose, muscle protein synthesis.
I received a lot of positive feedback on this segment, which is great to hear that you found it helpful, so to expand upon it a bit, I’ll share with you some of my favorite high-protein snacks that make it easy to get more high-quality protein in your diet.
These are hands down my main go-to along with a whey protein supplement. If I have a busy day, I can basically live on these.
First, all “snax” are made from regenerative raised animals. Regenerative farming is a farming practice that is designed to mimic nature, which means the animals all graze (grass-fed) naturally as they would in nature, and they also live in a biodiverse environment with other animals and crops. This kind of farming has been shown to actually be a “carbon sink”, meaning third-party testing shows it pulls more carbon out of the atmosphere than it creates.
In short, the animals sourced for Carnivore Snax are the healthiest, most ethically and humanely raised animals there are, but also the most nutrient-dense due to the diversity in the environment they live in.
These snacks are incredibly rich in the highest quality animal protein and healthy fats, and are no joke, the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted.
The price points on the surface might seem a little high, but you’ll get around 80-100g of the highest quality, most ethically raised protein in a bag, so that’s worth taking into consideration what that would cost at the grocery store.
My favorites are the ribeye, pork loin, and brisket.
CLICK HERE to check them out.
Organic Sprouted Green Pumpkin Seeds
I don’t rely too heavily on non-animal sourced foods for protein as they are simply not as bioavailable. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds definitely have their place in my diet, but mostly for micronutrient density, not with protein in consideration.
That said, if you are vegetarian or vegan, or just looking for a great, healthy, high nutritional impact snack, my recommendation, and another go-to of mine, are organic sprouted green pumpkin seeds.
I get the Go Raw Organic Sprouted Green Pumpkin Seeds in big bags at Costco.
They are not as complete of a protein as an animal sourced protein, but they are a much more complete source of protein than most other plant sources. Furthermore, they contain a little over 8% leucine, (if you recall from last week, is the key amino acid that is required to spur all muscle protein synthesis) which is much higher than other plant protein sources, and pretty close to some of the best animal sources of protein.
They are also rich in heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats.
And on top of all that, they are an absolute mineral powerhouse containing over 20% RDI in these key minerals: phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese.
All put together, this is a food rich in high-quality protein, fats, fiber, and loaded with key minerals.
NOTE: You do want to make sure your pumpkin seeds are sprouted, and this goes for most any seeds you eat. Certain plants and especially seeds and some nuts, contain what are known as “anti-nutrients”, which are phytochemical compounds found in the plant or seed that are meant to make them indigestible, and can cause inflammation in the body, and even lead to leaky gut.
This goes back to the intelligence of nature. Seeds of plants can be incredibly nutrient-dense, but they are also critical for the survival of the plant species, so they are designed to not be digested properly. The “sprouting” process naturally breaks down these anti-nutrients without processing, to ensure you are able to properly digest and synthesize the nutrients found in certain plants and seeds. To yield the above mentioned nutritional benefits of green pumpkin seeds, it’s quite imperative that your green pumpkin seeds are sprouted.
Stryve Biltong Sticks
Biltong is a method of air drying beef in South Africa with spices, and it’s absolutely delicious.
It differentiates from jerky, as jerky typically uses a dehydrator and sugar in the process.
Biltong is better than any jerky or meat stick you’ll ever have, and doesn’t contain the sugar that jerky typically does.
Each stick contains 14g of high quality beef protein.
We actually carry these in store, making them a great, convenient snack for me.
CLICK HERE to check them out.
“It is difficulties that show us who we are.”
The tough times in life provide us with an opportunity.
An opportunity to rise to the occasion and test our steely mettle.
To show ourselves that our spirit is indefatigable.
The tough times and hard things in life can hurt…
…but they also instruct.
When times get tough, when life throws a big wrench at you (maybe it is right now), embrace the pain, embrace the difficulties, and use them as an opportunity for growth, to become wiser, to be more resilient moving forward.