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Leigh Perreault Part 2, Human Microbiome and Caloric Intake

In part 2 of this Exclusive Interview, Dr. Leigh Perreault talks with Diabetes in Control Medical Editor Joy Pape during the ADA meeting in San Diego, California, about the surprising sources of calories in most people’s diets.

Dr. Leigh Perreault is an associate professor of medicine, physician and clinical researcher at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, CO. Her research interests include understanding the different pathways by which people develop type 2 diabetes, developing tailored strategies for diabetes prevention and the human microbiome.

Transcript of this video segment:

Joy: I’ve also heard you talk about plastics, hormones, medications, things in the water, can you talk more about that?

Dr. Perreault: Absolutely. We talk to people about their dietary intake and we have learned so much. It’s not just about the total number of calories that we put in our bodies, but where those calories come from. Every time we drink a Starbucks, take look at what is floating on top of that! That cup is paper and it would leak if the inside wasn’t covered inside with plastic and so when you drink that you are drinking plastic. Whether it’s plastic or pesticides from foods that we are ingesting, ultimately, we are creating the bugs that live in our gut known as the human microbiome. We are also learning that depending on the type of bugs that live in your gut, some of them can also pull calories out of foods that we thought didn’t have any calories! So, things like lettuce. So by definition fiber is indigestible starches. Imagine if you had a bug in your body that could take calories out of that piece of lettuce and now suddenly you are eating more calories. So ultimately it’s a combination of all these strange things in our diets that aren’t just things that we think of as having calories, but that dictate our microbiome that then decides how many calories are really in our food.

Joy: Sometimes people say, “I didn’t eat anything that was high in carbs or even has carbs and my glucose still went up!”

Dr. Perreault: I hear that all the time, I think most of us think “is that really happening?” But as we are starting do more and more studies that show that certain types of bugs can get more calories out of food, you start wondering if it’s true. There are research centers around the country that are doing proven concept studies where they actually are doing fecal transplants…can you even imagine? Who would sign up for such a study. But it’s amazing! You can have someone put an NGT down their nose and into their stomach and give them the feces of a lean person and it can actually reverse diabetes, treat obesity. It’s very clear that the bugs that live in our guts can give us disease, and if we get rid of these bugs or replace them we can fix the diseases.

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