Gut Bacteria & IQ: Could It Really Be?

Back to our regularly scheduled program. We left off at a bit of a cliffhanger last time. And as with any cliffhanger, we need to follow with a recap. Here’s what we’ve done so far…

…We noticed that smoking, which is the number one predictor of heart disease, causes a microbial shift. Not only that, but a specific one.

…We noticed that plant fiber consumption, or the lack of it, causes a shift as well. The same one we see in smoking.

…And we realized that both plant fiber consumption and smoking are both considered to be not only related to overall health, but they are also both correlated to heart disease. Which is just a little too convenient.

…Along the way, we noticed that transplanting the microbiota from healthy people to people with metabolic syndrome restored insulin sensitivity. And it was due to the same microbial shift that we see in plants & smoking. And we also noticed that smoking seems to be related to some other conditions that have a strong microbial connection. And that smoking introduces pathogenic, gram-negative bacteria directly into smokers. And that nicotine probably doesn’t explain any of this. That was all very interesting.

Finally, we presented a pretty solid base of research on the microbiome/brain connection. And we surmised that, since we established a pretty good microbiome/heart disease link, then if there were some kind of brain factor closely correlated to heart disease, it too would be under suspicion of having a microbial link. Turns out: low IQ is the second strongest predictor of heart disease. And then, lo and behold, we were handed a hot-off-the-presses rodent study showing that the feeding of prebiotic, fermentable fiber leads to changes in the brain.


OK. That should catch us up. Now where were we? Oh right: IQ. Could microbiota, and its primary modulator (fiber), really have an impact on IQ?

I think I know what most people were thinking last time: “Yeah, ok. Cute. But let’s be honest: dumb people do dumb things. If you have a low IQ, you’re probably less cognizant of the fact that cigarettes, ho ho’s, big macs, and spending all day on the recliner are slowly going to kill you.”

That’s certainly one explanation. And it’s an intuitive one. It’s the explanation that is widely cited in most of the reports by the epidemiologists themselves. But it’s not the only one. In fact, it didn’t even seem to be the most emphasized one by the epidemiologists in these reports. Here’s the explanation that got the most attention. I’ll quote from the NYT report:

“I.Q. is a marker of lifetime insults, physiological insults. We know kids with poor diets, kids who have repeated infections, have a lower I.Q., so it could be an I.Q. is capturing something about lifelong misery.”


“It may also be that a high I.Q. is associated with better overall neurological and physiological “wiring,’’ meaning all the body systems, from brain to heart to liver to kidneys, function at a more efficient level.”

So, we now have the two possible explanations of the IQ/Heart disease correlation, from the researchers themselves.

The Bad Behavior theory: Heart disease and low IQ track closely together because low IQ can cause heart disease. People with low IQs are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors because they don’t know that they’re hurting themselves when they smoke, consume an unhealthy diet, don’t exercise, etc.

The Bad Wiring theory: Heart disease and IQ track closely together because a low IQ is caused by all of the same things that cause heart disease — a series of physiological insults from the environment, poor diet, toxins, infections, etc.

There isn’t much to say of the Bad Behavior theory, other than that it is plausible, but by no means a sure thing. If you ask me, there is a whiff of condescension and misunderstanding about health-based decision making. To quote again from the NYT article:

It may be that people with low I.Q. have a more difficult time understanding complex health messages and don’t fully understand the long-term health effects of an unhealthy lifestyle.

But are these messages so complex? The idea that you should not eat unhealthy food? Sit on the couch all day? Smoke cigarettes? Or are these decisions more about basic willpower? Don’t we all know smart people who engage in these types of behaviors? Is understanding how or why they are “bad” even relevant? After all, even most children understand the basic “badness” of these types of things by a certain age, and they know you should avoid them without knowing the why or the how. And yet we’re to believe that adults could have a difficult time making the same basic connection? I’m willing to bet the average person, of average intelligence, doesn’t truly understand the why’s and how’s of unhealthy behaviors. We just know you aren’t supposed engage in them or our health will suffer. And yet many of us continue to do so — not because we lack basic intelligence, but because these activities challenge a fundamental part of human nature.

So color me skeptical. But alas, it isn’t something we can outright disprove. We’ll have to let this stand as one plausible explanation. For now.

Which brings us to the Bad Wiring theory. The idea that IQ is a reflection of overall “wiring” — that all the different physiological assaults that lead to heart disease can also, separately, lead to worse cognitive performance — is an intriguing but not so controversial idea. I think most people wouldn’t be too surprised to hear that an accumulation of negative health factors throughout life will lead to a deterioration in overall functioning, and that brain functioning would be a reflection of that deterioration.

But when viewed within the context of our investigation here — that heart disease may have microbial origins — then things become much more interesting.

You see, if heart disease has a microbial origin, then all of the “physiological assaults” that contribute to it — smoking, diet, infections, toxins, etc. — must share some sort of microbial mechanism themselves. In fact, we’ve shown here how smoking and diet (fiber, specifically) do so.

But if those same set of physiological assaults also contribute to worsened cognitive performance, then isn’t it reasonable to conclude that the same microbial mechanism is at play in that effect? What are the chances that they would all share a completely different mechanism?

In other words, with the Bad Wiring theory, the epidemiologists have essentially made the case for us.

So that’s where we find ourselves now — still two possibilities. If IQ is simply a predictor of unhealthy behavior, then that’s that. Our investigation has hit a dead end. Fun while it lasted.

Or….it could be the other thing.

So, what now? Do we just all place some bets and wait a couple of decades to see how it all shakes out? Not quite.

First, it turns out that IQ can do a lot more than predict just cardiovascular-related death. It can predict all death. That would suggest that something other than the inability to make good, “healthy” decisions is at work in the IQ connection. But it gets better.

In 2005, researchers set out to see if reaction time had the same predictive association with mortality. Reaction time can be understood as a cognitive subset of IQ. Reaction time is inversely correlated with cognitive ability. People with higher cognitive ability have shorter and less variable reaction times.

And here’s what the researchers found: reaction time did have the same correlation, and not only that, but when reaction time was factored out, the IQ correlation no longer held up.

Then, in a study by the same researchers who discovered that IQ was the second strongest predictor of heart disease, it was found that reaction time was, in fact, the critical element — reaction time was found to be the second strongest predictor in heart disease.

And finally, in a study published just a few weeks ago, those same researchers, wanting to eliminate confounding variables that can be involved in tests of intelligence (knowledge, education, culture), sought to replicate the effect using an even simpler reaction time test designed to be a raw measure of neuropsychological functioning — of one’s “wiring,” if you will. The effect, again, was replicated.

In other words, the IQ correlation is really a reaction time correlation.

With all this in hand, let’s now ask ourselves the million dollar question: what does reaction time have to do with understanding “complex” messages about health and avoiding behaviors that would lead to heart disease? NOTHING. That’s what.

And what would something like the speed with which your brain can react to something indicate about, say, your overall…”wiring”? Oh, maybe everything?

Bad Wiring: We have a winner.

Which means….

OK. This is all a little too heavy for me. Someone get me a stiff drink. FOS, Psyllium, and Raw Potato Starch. On the rocks.

— Heisenbug


125 thoughts on “Gut Bacteria & IQ: Could It Really Be?

    • LOL, I think the idea is that if you improve gut health, you’ll improve your frog-tapping (and also lower risk of CVD).

  1. Mr. Heisenbug, I have always been baffled by some ‘paradoxical’ effects of coffee consumption, like (observational, but still) protection against diabetes, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases and death, despite it’s cortisol raising properties. Does coffee raise IQ? It certainly does mine, albeit from 66 to 70 or so 🙂 . It does however, improve reaction time.

    Enter coffee and gut microbiota…


    • Very interesting! I’ve seen the coffee/prebiotic stuff before, but never thought to make that connection. Since coffee is a stimulant, any type of immediate cognitive effect would probably owe to that. But if there is a longer-term effect, then this could definitely be one explanation…

      The protection it offers for other chronic diseases, as you say, is even more compelling. As far as I know, no one has ever offered up a good explanation as to why that is the case. Something I’ll have to look into more.

      • Yes, please do.

        Over the years I have considered the iron chelating effects of chlorogenic acid, the SHBP-increasing effect and even a hypothetical hormetic effect on HPA axis function, but this seems to a be a much more plausible explanation.

        Caffeine itself generates more mitochondria, don’t know via what route…

  2. Is it really so strange to suggest the possibility? Remember the -fairly recently discovered- plasticity of the brain? Add to that the importance of the gut-brain axis. There must be a reason why this axis developed such importance over de millennia. Which leads me to assume that both partners have long since realized that they will both benefit is they work closely together. So it makes all the sense in the world that there is a continuous feed back loop. A smarter brain, better retention and recognition, deduction etc. from past experiences with .plant material and other stuff, makes life a lot less complicated for the gut. I think.

    • As if the devil is playing with it (to inappropiately translate a Dutch saying), a guy on my blog just reported that he has noticed a significant improvement in his ability to play some sort of intelligence/reaction capacity testing smartphone game, about two months into his potato starch experiment. He mentioned this before reading this post by Heisenbug.

      • My dyslexic friend is reading out loud better. It used to be that she’d read something and every third word she’d spell it out. That’s arduous. This is while she’s talking to me on the phone. A couple of months into the potato starch and she’s reading without spelling stuff out to me. Today she spelled out one word while reading several paragraphs out loud.

        I told her a while ago that she’s reading better. She didn’t want to accept it. Today I reminded her again and she can’t deny it anymore.

  3. I know people who love to chew on coffee beans (my wife is one), so according to Melchior those people might get even more benefit. There is an other issue though . What about the cafestol (a diterpene) that appears to raise LDL. Kind a weird because diterpene (and its relatives like retinol a.o.) are anti infammatories. We make our coffee with the melitta paper filters, keeping the good/bad stuff out?
    Anyway, whatever, main thing appears to be to keep loading up on all these FOS, GOS etc. Did you know that the good Lord knew what he was doing when he fed his people manna? Right loaded with mannose, another oligosaccharide. 🙂

  4. is there a difference between hi maize resistant starch and potato starch? Also, if i want to use potato starch, will any old potato starch do or is there a special kind/brand, e.g., Bob’s Re Mill

    • I think most people prefer potato starch over high maize (which is corn-based) because it seems to be a more natural and unprocessed product and also seems to be more widely available (ie, the grocery store). But technically, they should have mostly the same effect. Any potato starch should do, as long as it is raw/unheated. It’s just raw potatoes, after all. Bob’s Red Mill is the most popular choice.

      • “It’s just raw potatoes, after all. Bob’s Red Mill is the most popular choice”.

        Just read this user comment on the bob’s red mill web site,
        “I just spoke to customer service regarding Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch and was told the potatoes were boiled/cooked as part of the process of making the potato starch they sell”

      • I read on the site promoting PS that really the potatoes are cleaned with hot water, not enough to cook. FWIW.

      • Interesting…? my response from BRM seems to concur with the user comment i posted…
        I sent a question re. the production/manufacture process for the BRM p.starch using their online ‘contact us’ form here

        sent query on Mon 18 Feb 14, got email the next day,

        This was the email response to my query verbatim,
        “Yes, the potatoes are boiled during the process of potato starch production.

        The potatoes arrive at the facility from farmers, where they are then mechanically peeled. After grinding the potatoes and separation the fruit water from the potato pulp the starch is extracted out of the potato pulp with tap water. The extracted starch then passes through a fine sieve and is dried.” Josh Wenzel. Customer Service Representative. Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods

        Not too sure about some of the wording/English, “…and separation (separating?) the fruit water from the potato pulp…”

      • Might it be part of the pasteurization process? Being boiled for a short while does not imply being cooked.

      • i will do a follow up reply email to BRM in the near future…

        let me know what more i should ask, if anyone’s interested, to gleam more info/details from them,

        not that it matters that much, we know its starch & we know it ‘works’.
        i think the ‘raw’ starch wording around the web just came from people describing how you should consume the starch, ie. just eat it straight (raw & cold).
        & this could then be misinterpreted as starch from raw potatoes.

      • …& also the word unmodified was sometime replaced with the word raw, giving rise to another interpretation…?

      • I’m assuming the “boiling” is not enough to cook it, as Wilbur says. (Even if it were cooked, that would make the cooled starch RS3 instead of RS2.) Also, raw potatoes are in fact one recommended way to get RS2. Tim Steele, who is the commenter in that thread, worked this all out a while ago. I’ll ask him if he can weigh in.

      • From Tim:

        The potatoes are blasted with steam when they first go into the processing plant to clean and peel them. If they were cooked, there would be no starch to collect from the fine mesh sieves. There are several websites that describe the processes used. Bob’s is notorious for giving bad info, they are just a re-seller of starches, not a manufacturer. They probably think it sounds better to say their starch is made from cooked potatoes. They have potato flour — that’s def made from cooked potatoes.

      • “they (bob’s red mill) are just a re-seller of starches, not a manufacturer”…

        & to back that up, i just got this email reply from BRM re their p.starch,
        “This product is produced by a company in Europe (Germany, to be exact). We purchase it in bulk and package it for sale in the USA.”

      • Living in germany I wonder which german manufacturer they buy from – maybe Bauck?
        And I wonder what the difference between potato flour and potatoe starch is, since here in germany sometimes they state both on the package.

      • Sam, potato flour is made from cooked whole potatoes So the peel is included too which in fact makes it probably unhealthier too. The saponins (defense) are concentrated in the skin and areas immediately underneath. Saponins are nasty little buggers than can break down the tight junctions of you blood brain barrier
        There is a simple trick to determine whether you are dealing with starch or flour; Mixed with water starch will drop out again, while flour will stay mixed. See also:

      • @Sam Jost,

        As James says, potato flour is made from the whole potato…
        so if you check the nutrition information, you should see some number for protein.
        i saw a potato flour product the other day that listed around 9 grams of protein per 100 grams.

        Potato Starch on the other hand should have zero, or negligible protein ie. ~0.1g per 100g.

      • to confuse matters, potato starch is sometimes called (labelled) potato starch flour.

        & i saw a product from Germany the other day labelled as Potato Flour, which listed protein as 0 (zero) grams per 100g, which made me think it was actually starch. i would have bought & tested (as James mentioned), but the expiry was less than a month. I will try if they get some new stock in.

      • just seen (using google) two possible translations for the German word kartoffelmehl,
        > potato starch, &
        > potato flour

        so the listed protein content may be the real clue (without testing), assuming the protein content is listed correctly…

  5. I gotta say I have a pretty high I.Q. (which, along with about $3.00 will get you a latte at Starbucks, so I’m not bragging), but my reaction time sucks. At least when it comes to sports-type reaction time. So that’s interesting that the two are supposed to be correlated, because that sure as hell ain’t the case for me. It’s not that I’m bad at sports, but I’m bad at the aspects requiring reaction time. So I’d be interested to see how they tested that.

  6. Absolutely fascinating stuff! And also corresponding with my strictly unscientific N=1 diet transitions in the sense that I noticed when I moved to a more ancestral dietary pattern I became a lot more inventive, which in turn was further ameliorated by the inclusion of all kinds of fermentable fiber to my diet (resistant starch from green bananas and potatoes, honey and raw jerusalem artichokes for inulin).

    • She is 64 years old. You can imagine that for years I’ve had to close my eyes while on the phone and visualize the word she was spelling to me. So it’s a really big change.

      • I’m on the phone with her right now. I read out what I’ve written. She says her ‘eyes were scared of looking at words’.

        Concerta didn’t get her this far. It’s the damn potato starch. She’s doing internet research and loving it. I mean, how far can a person go? I reminded her that she used to think that her life was just going to wind down. But you never know what’s around the next corner. She’d had major bowel movement problems since her teens. No more. I recommended the potato starch so she wouldn’t be picking hard poops out of herself everyday. Horrifying. Who knew that along with good bowel movements, the ability to read would also happen. Who knew? I sure as heck didn’t. I’m being selfish but it’s such a relief to not have to visualize all those words anymore.

  7. So, it would seem then that Cafe Du Monde coffee would be ideal since it has chicory root mixed in. You’d get your cofee and prebiotic in one shot.

    • Maybe. Lots of variables and factors, obviously. In the case of smoking, we’d have to account for the fact that nicotine is known to have neuro-enhancing effects. But I think it’s a worthwhile hypothesis.

      • Could use a patch or e-cigarette to take out the nicotine effect. I suspect those going through withdrawal might have some dampened reaction times, though, so perhaps needs to be a longer-term study.

  8. I would recommend bulletproof coffee. It is the only reliable source of coffee I know of without all the mold and toxins, which are not good for you at all.

  9. Don’t believe the hype about mycotoxins, not a problem for most people and most of which is not found in coffee after roasting. The scare is perpetuated by one person trying to sell his overpriced coffee (the exact variety that can be gotten from Portland Roaster’s for half the price):

    J Assoc Off Anal Chem. 1980 Nov;63(6):1282-5.
    Mycotoxins in coffee.
    Levi C.

    This report reviews studies concerning the susceptibility of green coffee beans to mycotoxin contamination. Included are investigations on normal mold flora, toxin production in inoculated beans, effect of experimental roasting on aflatoxin, ochratoxin, and sterigmatocystin, and survey on the presence of these toxins in commercial green coffee. Because of the extremely low frequency of findings, the low levels of toxins, and the experimental data showing 70–80% destruction by the roasting process of toxin added to green coffee, further study on this topic has been discontinued.

    • I had been thinking the same thing. Roasting would kill anything and vaporize any mould spores etc. People will believe anything.

  10. So this is a tad off topic for this post, but I thought I might just continue on this thread. Reading the comments on a previous post, someone posted a link to a woman that cured chronic sinus infections by swabbing kimchi in her and her families noses. It got me thinking a lot about why this might be the case. We tend to think of the nose, ears, and mouth as separate but they are all linked together. So by taking a probiotic pill, you wouldn’t get the effect of eating a ton of the kimchi. To that same extent, the residual in your mouth could be extremely good for you. Since I have a reckless disregard for my own safety and a sincere desire to clear up my sinus infections, I think I’m going to give this a try but I’m not sure exactly how. Kimchi has a lot of things other than bacteria. Any thoughts. Crush up a good probiotic in a nasal spray?

      • I might have described that wrong. I have constantly congested sinuses. They aren’t always infected (clear vs yellow or green fluid). It was always a joke when everyone told me to breath out of my nose when running, it was totally impossible for me. I’ve done the baby shampoo thing and it didn’t do anything for me. So here is my update. I decided to try L. Plantarum supplement wiped on the inside of my nostrils with a q-tip. I’m 3 days in right now and I’m shocked how my sinsuses have dried and cleared. Still far from perfect, by way outside of the norm for me. I typically wake up in the morning unable to breath through my nose at all and I’ve had 3 mornings where I could breath moderately well through my nose. As always, I want to see a longer trend line but early indications are pretty huge.

        My lungs are nearing perfection at this point and it seems extremely unlikely to be just chance. My gums have also stopped bleeding entirely when I brush and I have only one small sensitive area that seems to be getting better.

      • hi Libfree,
        was the supplement you used just L. Plantarum, or were their any other probiotics mixed in there.

        & also what were the ‘other ingredients’ in the supplement, there are usually other stuff in the mix…

        i’m thinking of trying this myself, tho my problem is a runny nose (thin & clear) not blocked & not seasonal/allergy.

      • Diaz,

        I used the Jarrow 299v which is only L. Plantarum but is packed in potato starch and other vegetable matter. I’m on day 4 of being able to breathe when I wake up. I hope it works for you as well.

  11. This may be unrelated (I’m way out of my depth here) but my curiosity is piqued. I’ve been supplementing with PS and RS foods for about 3+ weeks now and have been taking probiotics and consuming fermented foods for a long time. I’m still building up my dose of PS, at this point I’m doing pretty well with about 4 – 5 teaspoons a day. I’ve gone slowly due to a lot of health issues. I’ve also been on Adderall for several years to address add and narcolepsy. In the last few weeks I have noticed my Aadderall seems to be affecting me much more intensely than in the recent past and I have had to back off the dosage. Kind of interesting.

      • Thanks GB, so interesting and the first I’ve heard of this. At this point all I can say is: a narcolepsy and microbiome link? Of course, why not? Improvements are slow, but things are happening and I guess you can say I can feel a change in the force. Recently, I’ve been able to fall asleep at night (day time narcolepsy, nighttime insomnia) and stay asleep without medication (not every night but often). I can honestly say it has been at least a decade since that has happened. Thanks for the encouragement and the link!

  12. could you post a link to the study you were talking about here please?

    “In 2005, researchers set out to see if reaction time had the same predictive association with mortality. Reaction time can be understood as a cognitive subset of IQ. Reaction time is inversely correlated with cognitive ability. People with higher cognitive ability have shorter and less variable reaction times.

    And here’s what the researchers found: reaction time did have the same correlation, and not only that, but when reaction time was factored out, the IQ correlation no longer held up.”


  13. Chiming in again vis à vis the dyslexia. After reading this blog post aloud, my partner, who was always verging on the mildly dyslectic (a lot of spelling mistakes always – her academic achievements notwithstanding) had a sudden realization that her spelling troubles have vanished into nothingness. Since when? Since dietary changes – not necessarily going paleo – but moving to a more ‘natural’ eating pattern, among which greatly reducing the amount of sugar and grains ingested, as well as starting to supplement with Algae-omega 3 oil and resistant starch. Please note that the dietary changes were not entirely voluntary since I am the cook in our household 🙂

    • Shocking. Listening to my friend reading out loud was like listening to someone who was just learning how to read. It was painful because the numbers of words she could not read and had to spell out to me disrupted the flow to the extent that sometimes I had trouble understanding the point of a given sentence. Now? She just goes along reading like a normal person. Very weird, very strange but what a relief.

      She is also calmer in general. When the water main broke and her building didn’t have water for a week, she handled the situation with aplomb. Usually if something so disruptive happened, she’d be frazzled. During this period, the management would put update letters through her door and she’d read them out to me on the phone. It was then that I noticed a huge change. That was about 1 month into using potato starch.

      Coincidentally, I met up with a very long time friend of hers (30 years plus) who, without knowing anything about the potato starch because he’d been away for a month in Europe, said to me “she’s very calm these days.”

      So I don’t rightly know. She is only using potato starch for improvement of bowel issues.

  14. I’ve been following the discussing on RS/health for a while now and from all the reports coming from this great N=1 party here (and at freetheanimal, melchiormeijer) and from my personal experimenting with RS, I suspect a big chunk of its reported health benifits have to do with butyrate optimizing cholinergic nerve transmission.

    muscle strength and endurance
    more available acetylcholine (ach) makes you stronger and will keep your muscles going for a longer period of time

    parasympathetic nervous system
    gastrointestinal function is heavily dependend on ach
    Ach is needed to avoid sympathetic dominance (chronic stress)

    dreaming and memory
    during REM-sleep ach nerve transmission is high, linking sleep and dreaming to learning and memory processes. Also, hippocampus functioning (forming new memories) is heavily depended on ach.

    visual processing
    Ach has a neuromodulatory role in visual processing. It helps the brain to process information more quickly and more accurately as if it switches the spotlights on the to-be-processed information. Maybe this explains why dyslexics fail to create a difference in activation of left hemisphere posterior regions during reading, like normal readers would do.

    eyelid innervation
    … is also ach-dependent.
    Maybe you have seen these pictures on freetheanimal of some people before and after a period of RS intake. I think what seems to make the strongest difference between the pictures is in the eyelids that seem to be lifted in the photographs taken after RS. This is something I also noted in my own experience, my right eyelid used to slightly hang down especially when i was tired now there’s no difference anymore between left and right except when i’m tired (ach depletion)

    Ach is also much involved in processing speed and reaction times and yes, intelligence.
    In need some RS now 🙂

    • Vandenbug, could you please provide a bit more along the lines of information as to how exactly butyrate, in what form or forms, enters into the equation in re: acetylcholine?

      I’ve looked at the rat pup butyric acid enema study, but that had a strictly localized applicability for the purpose of the study.

      • Gabriella I don’t know by which pathway butyrate can influence ach synthesis. My guess is some indirect mechanism might be involved. For instance, inflammation is related to increased acetylcholinesterase and butyrate decreases inflammation, less inflammation would lead to higher ach levels. Or: high blood glucose is detrimental for cognitive function and causes muscle fatigue (both ACh related), butyrate decreases blood glucose muscles regain strength and hippocampus regain size and function. I’m not sure. I just found it remarkable that many of the effects of resistant starch seem to be strongly related to cholinergic function.

      • Vandenbug, a neurobiologist from Cornell thinks the increase in shortchain fatty acids are responsible for the dreaming or dream recall. Direct effect on the brain.

        Just getting better quality sleep has a huge effect on hormones and neurotransmitters.

        I can see how butyric acid would have an effect on the gut neurotransmitters etc. but most of that is used locally. I have not looked for information as to how much butyric acid enters the general circulation, if such information exists. It’s the propionic and acetic acid that seemingly ends up in the portal circulation. Now I don’t know what the hepatocytes do with it all because these shortchain fatty acids need to pass through these cells in order to enter the general circulation. Seeing as how ethanol does, there’s no reason to not think that shortchain fatty acids don’t as well.

        Probably to maximize benefit, other confounders need to be eliminated: nutrient deficiencies, parasite load, helminthes, pathogenic bacteria etc. Otherwise, people who traditionally consume a high resistant starch diet should be geniuses, and they most certainly are not.

  15. Melchior, I saw the post from Vandenbug and thought to look here. Two pictures. One of early October and by early January. 1 month on RS.
    I have/had also of those droopy eyelids. By lose weight, it was getting worse. 70 years, what do you expect;-)
    And now again better. Saturday new photo.
    Thanks Vandenbug for noticing it.

  16. Anybody have any thoughts as to whether or not ChocoPerfection sugar free chocolate bars would be a good way to get FOS? They claim to have 14g of oligofructose and about 8g or erythritol per bar. I’m not concerned about the taste (having had them before and thinking they tested good enough.) I’m more interested in whether or not people think they have the FOS that seem to be important for us.

  17. Okay, so Vandenbug, studies have not been done recently, but the only short chain fatty acid that is present in the peripheral and portal circulations at even concentration is acetate.

    Maybe you are on the right track just the wrong short chain fatty acid. It’s acetate.

    But I don’t know how the body manufactures acetylcholine. If it can utilize acetate directly.

  18. Gabriella afaik REM-sleep is acetylcholine dependend, drug-induced ach-receptor blocking diminishes REM-sleep: no dreaming.

    I couldn’t find anything on the net that directly relates scfa to dreaming, did the neurobiologist offer some studies on the matter?

    Acetylcholine is made of acetate and choline but i doubt if higher acetate levels would lead to increases in ach. I will look into it, I don’t have much time atm.

    • Not. An energy enhancer. But at least we know that it is not peripheral butyrate or propionate. Maybe some people do well with an acetate boost to the brain. Maybe their brains function better with a bit more acetate as opposed to glucose.

  19. I don’t know what has been said already about the possible mechanisms behind the often reported phenomenon that people are less vulnerable to cold after resistant starch intake. Again, I suspect acetylcholine and its vasodilatiory effects on skin blood flow (by its mediating effect on Nitric Oxide and Prostaglandins) might have to do with it.

    Acetylcholine increases the bioavailabilty Nitric Oxide. Makes me wonder if there are any reports of males involved in the N=1 RS experiment that have noticed an uplifting effect on Erectile Dysfunction? Jeez that would be priceless.

    • Yes, there have been reports of night time erections. Not sure if there had been erectile dysfunction to begin with.

      • Gabriella where did you get that advice?? I always take it with some yogurt, tart cherries and a teaspoon of wild honey, just before turning in.. Never slept better. Before I used to wake up a couple of times . And no -even though I am 73- I don’t have prostate problems. Now I sleep till my subconscious tells me I have to have a look at the wood stoves. This Canada and we’re having one hell of a winter. I do get erections though. Not the romantic dreams that are supposed to come with it 😦

      • James, ordinarily, potato starch can be taken just as you do. But if someone routinely wakes up during the night with a painful erection that won’t go down, then it’s better to take it around 6 p.m.

        Believe it or not, there have been reports of the above.

        I hear you about the winter. We’ve got potholes the size of baby bathtubs everywhere. I’m not getting my balljoint changed until spring arrives. What’s the point if I need a new one again by the time May rolls around? That gets expensive.

      • Hey, could be worse, you got Rob to look after things 🙂 Okay, okay, I won’t mention it again.
        And I guess I am too old for painful ones.

      • Daz,it’s cherries and you have to forgive me not going into this. I would be abusing Shant’s (Mr Heisenbug) hospitality. We are growing the new Romance series of tart cherry shrubs (Brix 16 to 24). And yes the juice is something else. Loaded with anti inflammatory stuff plus melatonin.

      • hi Gabriella,

        “But if someone routinely wakes up during the night with a painful erection that won’t go down, then it’s better to take it around 6 p.m.
        Believe it or not, there have been reports of the above”

        would you happen to have a link handy, to where this was being discussed…?


      • Daz: private communication. There’s more going on behind the scenes than people are willing to admit on a blog comment. Sorry can’t be more helpful. If the individuals are not willing to make it public, I’m certainly not going to betray their confidence.

      • Understood Gabriella, thank you for responding.

        my sleep seems to worsen when i take p.starch later in the day. so your 6pm comment ‘gelled’ with me.
        someone/somewhere mentioned that this has been discussed over at free-the-animal, but i have never been able to find any relevant comments over there (tho i have not trawled thru all the comments, there are too many).

      • Daz, whether it is a good thing or not, PS gives me dreams that I remember. Fortunately, my brain seems to have settled down now and the dreams are just bizarre these days. Yesterday I didn’t take PS due to a high intake of mucilaginous vegetable (okra). No dreams. This is consistent. No PS = no dreams.

      • Gabriella I have exactly the same experience. It used to be that in order to remember I’d have to keep still after waking up and try to recollect, which quite often worked. Sort of. Now it doesn’t matter too much, although in essence it is still the same. Stay still and it all comes back. One or two hours later the details are all gone. It is very interesting. I have never done much with dream work even though my back ground is in psychology. I do think that elements of what you were busy with show up in those dreams. Have not discovered suppressed emotions of any kind. What it does indicate probably that we seem to be more aware of the flushing that may be going on. I am almost of a mind to start a diary of sorts.

      • It has been keeping me thinking. If we start somewhat back. There seems to be a better cleaner(?), faster brain activity.(acetate?) Maybe we should not focus too much on the dreams. maybe the vivid dreams are a byproduct of the -what I call- flushing activity during REM. Maybe what we are experiencing is a better working brain while sleeping. Result: better connections, less disturbance, less noise on the lines. Possibly even connections that were disturbed earlier (dyslexia?)
        Acetate instead of glucose? Whatever the case, it seems to me that somehow our brain is enabled to do a better job of whatever it is that the brain is doing while we are sleeping.
        I am presently studying a paper published in 1963 about Metabolism of Brain pyruvate and acetate
        Don’t know if it has bearing on this, but I do think that it must have something to do with energy supply, creation, folding or whatever. and it appears again that the brain utilizes acetate quite readily. Actually it looks like more efficiently.
        to be continued

      • James, that study just confirms that acetate is readily used in the brain. Funny how most of the short chain fatty acid/brain studies were done 20 to 50 years ago and no one thought to wonder what effect it has on sleep. Mind you, sleep medicine didn’t really start until Dr. William Dement began it in the US.

        I would be verrrrry interesting in seeing sleep studies on subjects consuming potato starch. I’m suspecting, that people with fractured sleep due to hypopnea may be getting deeper sleep which in their case may give them a few apneas. It would be fabulous to do sleep studies, really. It’s easy enough to control. Just make the subject consume the potato starch prior to the start of the study. Studies are not subjective. They can be blinded to the researcher. It would be a landmark study if indeed potato starch changes sleep quality for the better in subjects who have fractured sleep. Easier than drugs.

      • If acetate does not enhance lcholinergic transmission  than I cant see how acetate would have a role in increasing dream activity/rem sleep (or for that matter in any of the other RS effects that  seems to involve ach) as acetylcholine is directly responsible for this. If no RS = no dreams than no RS=no extra ACh. Simple as that.
        Just because we dont yet understand how RS enhances cholinergic transmission doesnt mean that it doesnt. I think somehow it does, in both central and peripheral nervous system.

    • Yes, I have, I took the potato starch because I heard it was good for blood sugar and colon health and THEN noticed it had an effect on my morning erections. Which i figure rules out the placebo effect. I am border line for ED.

    • Are we getting to fun part yet? But seriously, back tracking a bit what got me wondering ”Acetylcholine increases the bioavailabilty of Nitric Oxide” Can I stop taking my daily niacin?

      • You’re right of course. My eye caught the vasodilation but true the niacin has more benefits not in the least the increase in HDL. And the flushing is long behind me. Just a tingle.

    • James, who is Rob?

      A lot of guys report erections or the return of erections.

      Vandenbug, it would be a very interesting study, wouldn’t it. It is one of the reasons I’ve been loathe to recommend it when I know the married couple are not getting it on and the wife would prefer to not. This stuff might be as intrusive as Viagra. But even Viagra can’t raise the dead. Longterm diabetics don’t benefit from any of the erectile function meds, not much even with the injectibles. There’s only so far nitric oxide can go.

  20. another off topic fibre/fiber question…
    anyone know much about hemp seeds or hemp seed flour,
    it has both soluble and insoluble fibre, that’s all i know

    i would guess some it is Mucilage, like some of the other seed products?

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