The butterfly effect

I should be careful about what thoughts I put out there to the world. As fragile as they are, like a butterfly, they are able to materialize into avalanches of changes. I have tested the chaos theory sufficient number of times to convince myself that there is indeed a connection between the verbalized thoughts and observed reality. Sounds magical? I am pretty sure some mathematical modeling would explain what happens pretty neatly. What we do not understand, may seem mythical. A little bit of insight can make things look straightforward however. Clearly, people read and exchange their opinions. One cannot make another person think a particular way. Nevertheless, communication is a powerful medium. So here I go, testing the theory once more.

In 1992, a peculiar study was published in Journal of Nutrition. The authors studied the effect of raw vegan diet and observed significant, measurable changes within one week of the subjects adopting the diet:

Results suggest that this uncooked extreme vegan diet causes a decrease in bacterial enzymes and certain toxic products that have been implicated in colon cancer risk.” [1]

I read about this study some years ago, and revisited it recently again. The study has been cited by 38 papers on Scopus (the major database of scientific papers), and so I glanced at them. One of them, a paper with a rather long title, concludes:

There is growing awareness of the importance of the gut microbiome in health and disease“. [2]

That paper in turn is cited in a study which mentions a connection between gut and longevity:

Age-related gut microbiota modifications are associated with immunosenescence and inflamm-ageing in a sort of self-sustaining loop, which allows the placement of gut microbiota unbalances among both the causes and the effects of the inflamm-ageing process. Even if, up to now, the link between gut microbiota and the ageing process is only partially understood, the gut ecosystem shows the potential to become a promising target for strategies able to contribute to the health status of older people.” [3]

So, if you thought that the pendulum was swinging a certain predetermined way, here I am to tell you that this could be a temporary phenomenon.

[1] Shifting from a conventional diet to an uncooked vegan diet reversibly alters fecal hydrolytic activities in humans. Ling WH, Hanninen O. Department of Physiology, University of Kuopio, Finland. J Nutr 1992 Apr; 122(4):924-30.

[2] Holmes E., Li J.V., Athanasiou T., Ashrafian H., Nicholson J.K. Understanding the role of gut microbiome-host metabolic signal disruption in health and disease. (2011) Trends in Microbiology, 19 (7), pp. 349-359.

[3] Biagi E., Candela M., Turroni S., Garagnani P., Franceschi C., Brigidi P. Ageing and gut microbes: Perspectives for health maintenance and longevity. (2013) Pharmacological Research, 69 (1) , pp. 11-20.