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During the summer of 2014, LifeSpa.com is sponsoring a small trial to measure the changes in the gut microbiology of an average American after 3+ weeks eating a European diet. Ten people who were already planning on traveling to Europe have volunteered to participate in the trial. Each participant will have their fecal microbiology tested before departing to Europe, and again 2 weeks after they return home. Five of the participants will be eating a normal European diet, and five will be doing the same with a daily supplemental probiotic. The probiotics chosen for the trial – the LifeSpa Flora Restore MAX formula – are based on research on bifidobacterium lactis HN019, which suggests it is a colonizing probiotic, meaning it successfully adheres to the gut wall and increases the proliferation of more diverse strains of good microbes. (1)
In general, Europeans have been shown to have numerous strains of beneficial bacteria that are missing in the average American microbiome. (2)
Researchers theorize this to be related to the overuse of antibiotics during childhood, an overly sterile environment, processed foods, additives, stress and a host of other factors. (2)
Why Are Europeans’ Refrigerators So Small?
The size of an American refrigerator is huge compared to the average European fridge. The American trend is to pack our refrigerators full with food and, way in the back, you’ll normally find foods that have been there for months. By contrast, Europeans typically shop daily and eat that food daily. They shop for their meats at the butcher, cheese at the fromagerie or cheese shop, and veggies from the fruit and veggie stands. Most of what they eat in the smaller towns is fresh, local and unprocessed.
This small trial will attempt to determine if eating a more processed-free, fresh, microbially diverse, seasonal and locally grown diet will change the microbial wealth and diversity of an average American.
The Boons of Good Bugs
Growing evidence suggests that the greater the microbial diversity in a person, the greater their overall health, mental clarity, immunity and longevity. Based on the results of this trial, I hope to be able to develop more effective strategies to improve the diversity and health of the American microbiome.
Documenting the Trial
While 8 of the trial participants are being told to eat a standard European diet, the lead investigator (myself) and my research assistant (my wife Ginger) will be traveling through specific regions of Norway, Austria and Italy that are famous for their raw cheese to document, interview, video and blog about the traditional methods of raw mountain cheese-making, while tracking the influence of the raw cheese on our gut bugs in the context of a European diet. The major claim to health fame of raw cheese is its support for the healthier and more diverse European microbiome. So stay tuned to the LifeSpa newsletter during July and August for regular European updates!
Note: This is a very small, preliminary trial. If all goes well, we intend to do further studies to research the microbiome of people all around the world.