A 'Grueling and Grotesque' Biohacking Experiment; Would you eat your friend's poop to get better?
I came across this article/video and thought I would share it with you for so many reasons. Whatever you do, if you do watch this short 12-minute documentary I would not be eating any food, especially if you are squeamish.
The video and story are about former NASA scientist Josiah Zayner who checks himself into a hotel, sterilizes his body, and embarks on a 4 days journey to completely replace all of the bacteria contained in his body. This doesn’t sound too bad right?
Ugh! I had a hard time watching Josiah Zayner swallow another man’s poop (friend or not). I actually paused the video to collect my wits.
Zayner has made headlines for pushing the boundaries of do-it-yourself genetic experimentation from this documentary on changing his microbiome, to injecting himself with CRSPR gene-editing technology to modify his muscle genes to give him bigger muscles. Worse, he is selling his “DIY Human CRISPR Guide” online and selling $20 DNA that promotes muscle growth. Is he ethical and of sound mind?
The activity of exploiting genetic material experimentally without regard to accepted ethical standards, or for criminal purposes
Biohacking body modification
Why does he do these so-called biohacks? In his opinion, cutting-edge biology tools like CRISPR should be available for people to do as they wish, and not be controlled by academics and pharmaceutical companies.
Back to the video; Why did Josiah Zayner decide to embark on this experiment?
It was because he had suffered a lifetime of intestinal problems (AHA! ) including ulcers—another big AHA! We know that ulcers usually indicate an overgrowth of H Pylori and possibly their virulence factors. I wonder if he knew this?
Unfortunately, like many institutions in our understanding of health care only look at one aspect of health. They do not look at the entire picture;
• how a child is born and fed during its first year of life
• antibiotic use
• outlook on life
• and others
There were some clues in the video. Zayner grew up on a farm; could there have been viruses, pathogen bacteria and parasites at play that are not easily detectable? What if he had worked with someone who understood the environmental connection to the microbiome. Perhaps this video of extreme recklessness would not have been made.
For the experiment
Zayner checks himself into a hotel, scrubs himself clean and the hotel room and takes antibiotics to eliminate his gut bacteria. He then swallows poop and injects bacteria into his skin from his friend over a 72 hour period and waits 8 weeks.
After 8 weeks, through bacterial sequencing, Zayner’s gut bacteria changed to that of his friends. His digestive problems diminished and according to Zayner he developed a sweet tooth. His skin microbiome did not change.
Do not attempt this on your own
Although Josiah Zayner did receive positive results I cannot stress enough that this experiment did not have enough controls. And, I would not recommend doing this yourself (even if you can get past the ick-factor of eating your friend’s poop).
Doctors now have access to faecal transplants and are often used in the case of trying to control Clostridium difficile when antibiotics fail or with severe Crohn’s disease. However, faeces used for faecal transplants have been thoroughly cleaned and monitored for parasites and viruses. In this experiment Josiah Zayner did not do this, it was unfiltered friend’s poop.
What it did show is that we can change our microbiome. There have been studies taking a sterile skinny mouse and transplanting the bacteria from a fat mouse and the skinny mouse got fat. The same thing happened with a fat mouse injected with a skinny mouse bacteria; it got skinny. Zayner’s experiment helped showed this is possible; that we can transplant another’s bacteria and take on the characteristics of the donor’s symptoms (the sweet tooth he developed).
We do not have to go to these extremes, we can alter our gut bacteria by eating the right foods and this has been documented in numerous studies.
Prebiotic foods; vegetables and low glycemic fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and some starches. We can also eat fermented foods and some fermented drinks like kefir and komchuca. We can also take multi-strain probiotic supplements and prebiotic fibre to help boost our intestinal flora.
I know I keep saying this, and I will say it again; we can get a DNA picture of our colon with the GI MAP stool test. A great tool to let us know what is going on, what is overgrown or present that should not be such as
• Pathogenic bacteria overgrowth
And then we have a baseline to work with to help rebalance our intestinal microbiome without having to eat a friend’s poop.
Why did Josiah Zayner develop a sweet tooth?
Oh, and one more observation, I think I know why Zayner developed a sweet tooth; his friend's poop was more on the yellowish side instead of a nice brown chestnut colour. Brown or chestnut brown coloured poop (think milk chocolate) usually indicates the person is eating good protein sources and there is a rich mixture of bile, iron and protein.
A caramel colour or very light brown (kind of brown-yellowish) indicates more grains and dairy were eaten (which is going to feed the bacteria that ferments sugars) And, this may be why Zayner developed the sweet tooth. In a study done with fruit flies, researchers found that Acetobacter and Lactobacillus could suppress the flies’ protein cravings and increase their appetite for sugar.
Just a little more food for thought
we seriously are what we eat
Would you eat your friend’s poop for better health?