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Our Germs – What Do We Know About Them?

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Our Germs – What Do We Know About Them?


A friend sent me a great article called “Some of My Best Friends Are Germs” by Michael Pollan about the efforts by a team led by Rob Knight at the BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado, Boulder working on something called the American Gut project. The team analyzes the hundreds of microbial species harbored by individuals who agree to participate. As more people are choosing to have their microbiomes (sum of all microbes that live in or on your body) analyzed and genomes sequenced, we are beginning to learn a great deal about the many supportive and protective roles these “germs” (mostly bacteria) play in our health and well being. From this work a better understanding of obesity, infections, fecal transplants for C diff, training our immune system, and the value of mother’s milk is emerging.

Unfortunately, some aspects of our advanced civilization are limiting the diversity of this amazing population. The biggest single factor is the routine use of antibiotics. Another question raised is how these populations are shaped by our diet, behaviors and (lack of) exposure to the outside environment.  The trade off of less exposure to pathogens (bad germs) with improved sanitation vs. having a less diverse population of microbes is also discussed.

By |2016-11-05T04:27:32+00:00May 16th, 2013|antibiotics, Bacteria, C diff, Diet and Digestive Health|6 Comments

About the Author:

Norm Robillard received his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst studying Bacillus anthracis and other Bacillus species. His post-doctoral training at Tufts University focused on antibiotic resistance and gene transfer between the gut microbes Bacteroides fragilis and E. coli. During his career in pharma / biotech, Dr. Robillard studied the genetics of antibiotic resistance, septic shock, viral illnesses and antimicrobial and antibody-based therapies prior to founding the Digestive Health Institute. Dr. Robillard is the creator of the Fast Tract Diet, author of the Fast Tract Digestion book series and publisher of the Fast Tract Diet mobile app. He was the first to propose excess intestinal fermentation as the underlying cause of acid reflux and explained the connection between intragastric pressure from gas-producing bacteria in our intestines, nutritional malabsorption and the symptoms of acid reflux. His latest book series, Fast Tract Digestion provides a safe and effective dietary tool and behavioral strategy as an alternative to proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), H2 blockers, IBS drugs or antibiotics for heartburn, acid reflux, GERD, laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPR), IBS and other SIBO related conditions.


  1. tatertot May 17, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Norm – have you had your gut microbes analyzed by the American Gut Project? I think I am going to get 2 sample kits ($180), one for my wife and one for me. It should be very interesting to see the difference between a long-term GERD person and a person with a very robust intestinal system who has been supplementing with resistant starch.

    • Norm Robillard May 18, 2013 at 1:47 am

      I haven’t but what a great idea. It sure is cheaper than doing your own clinical study. We should try to sign up 25 more people with GERD and about 15 without to get some statistical power behind it. Volunteers???? Controls (diet, etc.) and exclusion criteria need as well.

  2. Tatertot May 19, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    I will share our results with you when we get them back. At $99 each, probably not many will take this challenge, but I think it is just amazing that they have opened this to the public.

  3. Pam S. June 21, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    I have had recurring issues with SIBO and IBS and have been on the antibiotic treatments for them (Rifaximin). I’ve also been following something like the Perfect Health Diet or modified paleo for the past two years. I submitted a sample to American Gut but have not yet gotten my results back, I’m very interested to find out what is in there.
    As an aside I just found out about your blog today and I ordered your book.

    • Norm Robillard June 22, 2013 at 6:01 am

      Hi Pam,
      Nice to meet you and thanks for sharing. Let us know what you find out when your AG results are in.

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