When I rant about how diet can cure autoimmune conditions I am sure that I sound kind of out there. It is an outrageous theory. To say that a whole series of ailments from autoimmune arthritis to obesity to autism can be stopped or reversed by a combination of antibiotics, antifungals, changes in diet, and microbiota sounds strange. You must be wondering WHERE on Earth I am getting this bizarre theory and what sort of evidence I can possibly have that all of these conditions are related.

I am glad you asked.

This area of scientific knowledge is growing rapidly. So rapidly that this current (June 2014) article is actually a summary of what scientists already know.

If you want to read more about it, or understand all the mathematical modeling necessary to allow us to develop solutions to the scary side effects of dysbiosis, the following article has a pretty readable abstract indicating how few genes mammals have and how much we rely on our microbes to define our immunity, our metabolism and our reaction to pathogens.

This article is from the journal Lupus published May 2014.

This is from the Brief of Functional Genomics about the microbes most likely to be impacting type 2 diabetes and obesity

A more complete analysis of gut flora and obesity

There is an interesting sentence here about the odd microbial population in preterm infants.

This article deserves its own post but I will include it anyway. Want to know why so many kids have food allergies…

So by now you may be thinking “OK I got it, bad gut bacteria and not enough good gut bacteria are causing my issues, but really what evidence is there that the second part of your hypothesis is true? Is there really convincing evidence that I need to change my diet and stick to a new one forever and the rest of my life?”

I am glad you asked.

The first article is about a mouse study where they changed the microflora in the mice by changing what baby food they were fed (and no, no one is suggesting that you need to live on pureed squash). Please note that casien is DAIRY. Read cheese and pizza. More dairy means more microbes, and not necessarily the good ones.

This one shows the damage from casien (cheese and milk) and soy.

This study does not have useable information in terms of making a dietary modification because while tapioca starch and potato starch are both widely available this is a specific kind that was treated to be resistant. That said it implies that foods like agar and fiber are probably helpful.

But before you all freak out and refuse to eat dairy again, it appears that the equation is far more complicated. A high fiber diet seems to mitigate the dairy protein problems so as long as you are getting your fiber, you may be able to enjoy moderate amounts of cheese

So do we know what the right diet for everyone is…no. We do know that it probably has a lot of fiber, a minimal amount of animal protein and very little soy. None of that is shocking. It is an area where we need to do a LOT more research to come up with action steps.

Still, it IS a working hypothesis, and no, I didn’t invent it.

I am just the reporter.