Michael Lustgarten PhD

Microbial Burden: A Major Cause Of Aging And Age-Related Disease


Professor, Scientist Tufts University 


Research focus: The role of the gut microbiome and serum metabolome on muscle mass and function in older adults.

Show highlights:

-Michael’s thesis about the role of microbes in aging has been peer reviewed.

-Needed to investigate the serum metabolome to get a bigger view on aging.

-Taking poop from poorly functioning and well functioning older people and implanting in mice to see how it impacts the mice.

– We have a gut microbiome but also distinct microbiomes throughout the body – blood, muscle, brain, mouth etc.  Each microbiome has its own constitutents which vary because of different pHs in each body part.  Requires different strategies to optimize each body part.

-100 years ago, high infant mortality rate was high because of deaths from microbes.  Now, if people live over 100, the major cause of death is pneumonia.  We’ve only delayed the microbial threat, not eliminated it.

-Life is a balance between us versus microbes.  Whatever weakness we have, a microbe has evolved to exploit that.

-Human DNA hasn’t changed over last 300-400 years.  We haven’t evolved mechanisms to be able to completely eliminate negative effects of microbes on our health.

-We can appear healthy, but microbes can grow in stealth and are waiting for the immune system to weaken so they can propagate and grow.

-Ideally the body will bring itself to balance if given the right diet.  If not, a targeted antibiotic or bacteriophage can correct the microbiome.  Current antibiotics are primitive and attack a broad-range of microbes.

-Michael weighs all his food to quantify his nutrient intake and tracks his CBC and Chem30 blood panel tests.

-His videos about Quantified-Self are on YouTube and Vimeo.

-The oral microbiome is vastly understudied.  Want a basic oral pH.  He gargles with a solution of sodium bicarbonate, xylitol, and occasionally peppermint oil.

-Gut microbiome.  Proposes a high fiber diet of 100 grams of fiber/day – 4 times average consumption.  Gut microbiome uses fiber to make short chain fatty acid.  Get fiber from high volume of vegetables.  Michael eats 1-2 lbs of broccoli, 2 sweet red peppers, 1.5 lb butternut squash, all by themselves.

-High diversity of microbiome – how many species – is associated with positive health outcomes.  His gut diversity was higher than 94% of the population.

-Effectiveness of probiotics depend on what your gut microbiome already is.  Can be challenging to colonize gut with probiotics.

-There will always be some bad actors in the gut and they can subvert protective barriers to get into the blood.   Keeping gut barrier intact is essential to maintaining good health.

-Carpet bombing is the wrong path.  Find out who is there first.  Can test with uBiome.  Compare to who should be there.  Use different strategies to fix the microbiome.

-Cancer mouse model.  Increased muscle mass by introducing missing microbes.

Leeks, garlic, onions contain inulin and FOS which feed the good actors.  Central to optimizing gut microbiome.

-Western diet, too much meat, low fiber, too much fat and salt, not exercising – all negatively impact gut microbiome.  Study you to optimize you.

-Oral DNA is impacted by gut microbiome.  Really need to know both.  ubBiome – can test mouth, skin, gut bacterial microbiome and compare to everyone else’s results.

-Patrick wonders about the effect of GMO feed on mice used in research.


Michale Lustgarten PhD The microbiome of the body and longevity, August 17. 20172018

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