The community benefits of gut-brain food

Colin Austin © 8thMay 2024 This document is published under the Creative Commons system which means that it can be copied and republished without further permissions but the author Colin Austin @ must be recognised.

The black foot and avoiding amputation

My wife Xiulan, a medical doctor and surgeon became diabetic, the professional medical given to us was that diabetes is an irreversible chronic disease, that will steadily get worse, we will put you on progressively stronger medicines but eventually, you are likely to end up with insulin injections and you will probably die young from some complications from diabetes.

We accepted that advice as an honest attempt to make us aware of the harsh reality.

But when her foot started to turn black we were advised that she would probably need to have her foot amputated.

We were not happy to accept that advice, searched all the relevant scientific literature we could find as it was quite clear to us that there was a big difference between what the leading researchers were saying and the advice being offered at the retail level.

So what did we see? Now let me be upfront, my wife may be a medical doctor but I am an engineer and engineering is really about the generation, transmission and application of power. So I naturally tend to look at the human body as a thermodynamic machine – like a steam engine.

The body as a thermodynamic machine

Thermodynamic machines have three components, they have a source of energy, in the case of a steam engine a boiler which burns fuel.

As long as the fuel burns in the boiler it does not matter much what the fuel is, coal, oil, gas, that old piano, table or chair that is never used, as long as it gives off heat that is all that matters.

It is the same with the human body. The energy food we eat, whether chicken wings and chips or the most select organic produce, is simply burned off as fuel.

There is widespread concern about the reliability of food supply yet our modern food system produces enough fuel, energy food to power the entire human population (if it were equatable distributed) now and for years to come.

As long as the sun continues to shine and some dictator with no social conscience and access to rocket technology, and who happens to have a palace on the shores of the Baltic Sea which is in danger of flooding, does not decide to blanket out the sun, there is, and will not be, a shortage of fuel.

Yet nutritionists seem obsessed with calories – lack of calories is not the issue. They should just forget about calories.

There are much bigger issues at stake.

That great clanking machine

Our hypothetical steam engine has a structure which must be built and maintained, oils and lubricants applied to keep the machine running smoothly and parts replaced as they wear. In our steam engine, this is done by humans but our bodies are much more sophisticated.

From very conception the fetus, weighing just a few grams, is supplied with food which enables it to grow to a few kilograms and after birth continues to consume food to grow to full size.

But even then our body parts may look pretty much the same but most of our body parts are being replaced, some like our skin very rapidly others like our teeth much slower.

We could say, in rather round terms that every three months we need to build a new body and for that we need food, not as much volume as for fuel, but still significant.

For some two thousand years this happened from our basic diet, largely from the complex chemicals, and phytonutrients in plants grown in living soil and eaten straight after picking.

These phytonutrients are incredibly complex – a single tomato will have some thousand different phytonutrients and no one really knows what they do.

Our modern food system lacks these phytonutrients and this is where nutritionists shine. They use their skills, and sophistication of modern technology, to produce a range of pills and supplements to overcome these deficiencies.

By and large, it works – at least sort of.

The intelligent controller

But then we come to the last bit of our steam engine. All machines has some sort of controller, it could be a simple on/off switch or it could be a highly sophisticated intelligent control system.

Now it just so happens that my first job as an engineer was working for a company that made controllers for power stations which happen to be highly relevant to the human body.

So let me tell you a funny story about power station controllers – and believe me it is relevant.

Most of the time this is pretty easy, you just monitor the load on the system and adjust the input energy with some fairly basic technology.

The controller measures for any error and if the energy input is too low or high it simply cuts back in proportion to the error. This is called proportional control

But as the error reduces the correction reduces so it never completely corrects the error. So the controller integrates the error and adjusts accordingly. This is called integral control.

But sometimes things change very rapidly so the system also measures the rate of change so the controller applies damping so the system is stable. This is called derivative control.

This may not seem to be connected to how our bodies work but we have a much better control system which I want to tell you about.

On many Saturday afternoons, there is a football match and the power consumption is low until the interval when a sizeable proportion of the population will get up and switch their kettles on for a quick cuppa creating a huge surge in power consumption.

This completely overwhelms the control system which by the time it gets the power plant up to the power setting the play has restarted.

How do struggling engineers like me manage this crisis – and no cuppa at halftime is a real crisis.

We all have an intelligent control system

This is really important because this is what our bodies do exceptionally well.

We call it adaptive or self-learning software (which was among the software I wrote).

The way it works is that you think you know that there will be a power demand at 3.30 and it will take 30 minutes to get up that extra pressure so you write software so at 3 it schedules the power station up to number 6 on the dial and sit back and see how big a goof you have made.

At 3.30 you (or the system) find out that you had made a big goof and it was nowhere near big enough so in the software you have written code which says big goof increase by 50% so next Saturday it dials it up to number 9 and wait and see what happens.

And what happens is pressure relief valves blowing off all over the place because number 9 is far too big so the software says 6 is far too small and number 9 is a bit too big so next week it tries number 8 and this goes on and until it works out that 7.352 works really well.

How does this relate to the human body? This is the way the human body works, we have an intelligent control system which is regulating every aspect of our bodies. This is the way our bodies work. But even though I used to be what was called a gun coder (like a gun shearer pretty good at the job) I have absolutely no idea of the code and nor does anyone else.

But that does not mean it is not happening.

At the shopping centre

Next time you go to a shopping centre you will see many obese or overweight people and assume they are just fat little piggies stuffing themselves. And you would be wrong.

There is a chance it could be genetic, some people are just naturally fat, but not that many.

It could be that the body is sensing that there are deficiencies in the diet, such as a lack of essential phytonutrients and goes into panic sending out signals to eat more so it can stuff fat anywhere and everywhere it can ready for a rainy day.

Or it could be a fault in the supercomputer in your gut-brain or more technically the wrong species of microbes in your gut.

Either of these is easily fixed by adding gut-brain food to your diet. I may not know the code in your gut-brain but at least I know how to feed it gut-brain food which automatically includes the phytonutrients.

You can read the technical details in this post – it is straightforward growing plants in Wickimix, the special soil, and maintaining the Goldilocks moisture level. But the plants must be eaten shortly after picking which means it must done at home or at least locally. This is not an operation for mega industries

But how do I let people know that this technology exists?

The disinformation age

When the internet and its search engines came out I thought this was one of the greatest innovations of all time giving all people access to that vast pool of knowledge which previously was only available to a limited few.

What a great equaliser.

And I was wrong, we are just saturated with dis-information with companies collecting our private details so they can sell that information to anyone who wants to sell us something.

I know this from personal experience. My interest is in gut biology and we get our first gut biology from mum at birth and later while breastfeeding. So naturally I use the internet to search for information about birthing and breastfeeding.

AI of GS?

As a result, I get bombarded with companies trying to sell something that a pregnant lady may want to buy. Now I ask you what is the probability of an 84 year-old male being pregnant – answer sweet FA. That’s why they call it Artificial Intelligence AI or as I prefer GS Genuinely Stupid.

What this means is that instead of the Internet being this wonderful innovation where people can get information out it is a blocker of information transfer.

But it is worse than that. Disinformation is such an important issue that it has received a staggering amount of research with some rather unsavoury conclusions.

What this research says is that we naturally form groups and are far more likely to believe what our group says than the facts.

Whether we are aware of it or like it the software on the internet naturally forms us into groups with common views. They call it the echo chamber.

Right or wrong is irrelevant it is what the group thinks that matters.

This even happens in science where the greedy piggy theory dominates the intelligent control system theory for being overweight.

Social conscience and the food industry

The modern food industry does an amazing job of providing us with energy food. It also does an equally amazing job of supplying us with an enormous variety of food choices – a variety of foods from all over the world in and out of season.

This is just so different to when I was a kid when food was just plain boring, toast for breakfast, meat and two veg for lunch and bread and butter and cake for tea.

But almost everyone would grow some fruit and vegetable in naturally living soil which supplied the phytonutrients and gut-brain food essential for health.

True there were some fat people but there was no epidemic of chronic diseases, that is manmade as a result of our food system.

We can buy vegetables from the supermarket but they will have been grown in soil with synthetic fertilisers so even at picking will be low in phytonutrients and beneficial microbes.

By the time they have been transported and at arrived our table these will have died – hence the food deficiency and chronic disease epidemic.

There is no point in trying to change the existing food industry which is dominated by megacorporations whose focus is on profits rather than saving people from having their limbs amputated from diabetes.

And in any case, the issue is the deficiencies of phytonutrients and beneficial microbes in their food.

If their product contained any ingredients that were harmful they would be legally liable but how can a company be legally liable for something that is not in their product?

We have to think of a new way in which we overcome group-think which has led to a lack of confidence in what people see on the web and is a major obstacle to the adoption of any new technology.

Creating a new local gut-brain industry

At this moment members of the Gbiota movement understand the importance of the technology and are prepared to make the boxes, collect the waste and basically do everything themselves – it is a ‘do it yourself ‘movement run by and for the community.

I have spent a lot of time working our ways that people, living in a flat can collect their waste and turn this into Wickimix, the soil in Gbiota boxes, and a key ingredient in the Gbiota technology.

It works but does require a bit of dedication and is not for everyone.

But think how much easier it would be with Government support.

We should try and persuade local councils to collect food waste and process this into Wickimix. Most councils have land available even in the centre of cities that could be used but they all have some form of recreation land or parks. Every flower bed in every park could be used to prepare Wickimix and they have horticultural expertise.

It is just requires burying the rubbish, covering with soil, growing plants that exude the sugars which attract the beneficial microbes then and managing the moisture levels.

After a few months, the WickiMix could be dug up and sold to local growers who could use the Wickimix to prepare Gbiota boxes with plants ready to harvest, which they could sell, on a swap-over basis, to local people who have little to do other than water and harvest their plants and supply clean kitchen waste to the council collection service.

This is a social issue project but just look at the economics.

In Australia, 4,400 people a year have a diabetic amputation which costs about $40,000 in total cost to our health system. That works out at $176,000,000 per year.

This money could be better spent in other areas of our health system but some of this money should be used to help the local councils who would provide the waste collection and processing.

It just needs coordinating all these activities to make it happen.