Sugar Disrupts Your Colonic Biome and Leads to Metabolic Problems

September 19, 2022

Sugar Disrupts Your Colonic Biome and Leads to Diabetes

Human biology is pretty complex with multiply interacting components. To make it a bit harder, we don't allow researchers to sacrifice their human subjects to be certain of their results. So, we do research in mice, that may not be exactly the same, but frequently are pretty close. That's what this study showed. The nuance and results fit neatly into other research, so ring true. It's worth trying to understand.

Some 70% of the human immune system is around the gut. The lining of our intestines is just one cell layer thick, so it takes that army of watchful immune cells to make sure bad actors don't get in. And in turn, the host of bacteria living in our gut has a constant conversation with our immune cells surrounding the gut. That's what this landmark study, published in Cell this week, is about. Your gut works best when it has lots of "segmented filamentous bacteria" (SFB) all along its lining. Those bacteria facilitate your having more T-helper cells called TH-17 cells. TH-17 cells reduce your absorption of fat.

When you eat a lot of sugar you induce damage to the gut lining. That sets off inflammation which in turn inhibits the growth of those helpful filamentous bacteria. Like dominoes, when you have fewer FSBs, you get an unhelpful overgrowth of different bacteria, Faecalibaculum rodentium, that appear to be unaffected by the sugar and blossom in the absence of the FSBs.

In this study in Cell, they colonized the mice with FSB bacteria and then fed them a high sugar, high fat diet. The high sugar depleted their FSB bacteria. Their TH17 cells dropped. They gained weight. Without the sugar, they kept their FSB bacteria and TH17 cells and didn't gain weight.

This study was done in mice, so it may not be applicable to humans. However, there is abundant human evidence about TH17 populations in the gut being depleted by sugar. The overgrowth of FSBs is a new finding, however.

The real problem is that we humans in America are eating 310 calories of sugar a day. That is 15% of our daily calories.  Table sugar is a combination of fructose and glucose. Most of that is hidden in foods like peanut butter, ketchup, sports drinks all of which contain sugars to trick you into eating more.

And we don't feed our biome in our colon. Fiber is the foundation of biome nutrition. Some amino acids like glutamine are also helpful. But mostly fiber. Americans average about 10-14 grams of fiber a day. We have many bowel diseases like diverticulitis, appendicitis, gallbladder disease that are all made worse by low fiber diets. Parts of the world where fiber consumption averages 30-40 grams of fiber a day don't have those diseases at all.

To top our health dilemmas off, we take antibiotics way too frequently, damage our colonic biome and lose wide swaths of good bacteria that take months and months to repair.

www.What will Work for me. This study adds to our understanding of the complexity of our interaction between the precious biome in our gut, that acts much like an independent organ, and our immune system. We are all sugar addicts and very vulnerable to the seduction of sweet flavors. I know I am. If I start on sweet, the rest of the day results in eating more food of all kinds. You can observe that in yourself too. See if you can go for a year without any antibiotics, lots of fiber, and less than 1 oz of sugar a day. Just try.

References: Medical News Today,Cell, J Acad Nutr Diet,

Pop Quiz

1. What happens in our gut when we eat sugar?                               Answer: We get a decrease in filamentous bacteria that typically lie adjacent to our gut lining. (If you are a mouse.)

2. With fewer filamentous bacteria, what happens to our immune system?                    Answer: We have a reduction in TH17 cells. (If you are a mouse.)

3. With fewer TH17 cells, what happens to our weight when we eat an all-American high fat, low fiber, high sugar diet.                       Answer: Our weight shoots up.

4. Americans eat how much sugar a day?                            Answer: About 310 calories. That is between 10-15% of our calories.

5. Bottom line.....if you want to lose what?                       Answer: Don't eat any sugar. Read the ingredients of everything you eat...and don't eat sugar.