Would you take “poo pills” to improve your gut health?
If you’re a hot girlfriend like me, then you probably have gut issues. In fact, one of my resolutions for the flourishing year of 2022, alongside practicing decolonized yoga, was to prioritize my gut health. More and more, we are discovering just how important gut health really is to our overall well-being – from immune disorders to mental health, gut health seems to rule everything. Now there is an interesting new solution to the problem…
The Guardian unveiled an exclusive report on the search for BiomeBank, which is located in the heart of Adelaide, a suburb of Australia, and describes itself as a “clinical-stage biotechnology company developing a ‘pipeline’ of live biotherapeutics to treat disease”. It aims to accomplish this mission through the restoration of the gut microbiome. While there are endless health issues that can arise from an unhealthy gut, BiomeBanks’ main target is “Clostridioides difficile”.—a bacterium that infects the digestive tract causing symptoms diarrhea to life-threatening conditions such as sepsis.
But guess what? If you’re already blessed with a good gut, then you’re what’s been described as a “unicorn” and there are scientists out there who want your poo. Yes, you read that right.
The “super poo” transplant
“The transfer of healthy stool into the gastrointestinal tract of an unhealthy recipient has [previously] It has been shown to treat people with intestinal diseases,” wrote The Guardian. Today, as research continues and more is known, the possibilities for drug treatment continue to expand. BiomeBank scientists are developing a “super stool” (derived from the faecal donations of those “unicorns” we mentioned) that will be turned into a “poo pellet” that you can eat. Consuming such a treat would seek to replicate the intestinal abilities of unicorns.
It’s the star ingredient for researchers, and they’re currently on the hunt for healthier gut unicorns. Their facility houses a “special donor room” – let’s not mince words here, it’s a restroom – where elite fecal donations are given. These are then deposited into the company’s stool bank, ready to be used to develop poop transplants. Donations are placed in a ‘secret sauce’ – it all sounds delicious, doesn’t it? – which allows their growth as well as the isolation of bacterial strains. BiomeBank then collects all strains found and categorizes them for future projects.
However, not everyone can be a donor. You have to do the trick, unicorn. According to Dr. Emily Tucker, head of donor screening at BiomeBank, there is a long list of applications needed to become a donor. “They have to be healthy, obviously. They should be screened for infections. A detailed history of their medical, travel and antibiotic history is taken,” The Guardian revealed.
Expert in molecular biology at the University of Auckland, Dr Justin O’Sullivan, say it BBC in 2019 about his surveys of super poo donors, “We are seeing super donor transplants achieve clinical remission rates of perhaps double the remaining average…Our hope is that if we can find out how this happens, then we can improve the success of fecal transplantation and even try it for new conditions associated with the microbiome like Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and asthma.
And it looks like BiomeBank is on the right track. Thomas Mitchell, the company’s chief executive, explained that his first successful solution involved microbial therapy that extracted the necessary bacteria and then grew them into a capsule to be taken by mouth. The biotech company’s treatment has already been tested and rolled out in select hospitals across the country.
“Then there is the second generation, a replication. Think of unicorns as Adam and Eve types, but their genomic sequences can be replicated. You can grow them. Isolate them. Identify them, name them, put them in a library, and gradually accumulate knowledge of what each strand can do,” explained The Guardian. Basically, if a bacterial strain is a solution to a person’s specific problem, it can be isolated and made into a tailor-made pill for that patient.
Chief Physician and Director Sam Costello warned that research is vital to combat the “microbial extinction event” unfolding around the world, particularly in the West. Although historically humans have had a diverse range of microbiomes, things have changed as the consumption of highly processed foods and lack of exposure to certain bacteria has increased.
Don’t worry just yet, you don’t need to rush to poop pills anytime soon. There are much easier ways to heal a bowel if you only have minor issues. Of course, if you have very concerning symptoms, it is best to consult a medical professional.
How can you improve your gut health?
“To have what we understand to be a healthy microbiota, where microbes present are associated with healthy conditions and those not present are associated with unhealthy conditions, we already know what you need to do,” Professor Felice Jacka, Director of Deakin Universityit is Food and Mood Center, told the Guardian.
Although she is a strong supporter of the “super stools” campaign, she advised to diversify your diet: “Eat lots of plants, different types of plants, plants of different colors and add fermented foods.” In countries around the world, the health of the gut microbiome surpasses the West. To name just one few fermented food options, try adding kimchi, sauerkraut or miso to your diet and of course, the star of the show—fiber.
Jacka did however mention that often when those on a predominantly Western diet begin this journey, their existing gut bacteria are so weak and deficient that reintroducing fiber will cause issues such as stomach pain, bloating and gas. . This is because the existing Western diet is rooted in a lack of diversity and saturated with endless processed fats and sugars – in fact, it’s estimated 75 percent of the world’s food production consists of only 12 plant groups and five animal species.
When individuals experience such symptoms as those mentioned above, they often fear fibrous foods under the assumption, perhaps incorrectly, that they have irritable bowel syndrome or gluten intolerance, Jacka said. In fact, what these problems might show you is that you don’t have a healthy gut microbiome. Reintroduction should be slow (especially if you rarely eat fiber), make it easy for yourself, and gradually increase the fiber content of your diet, she advised.