Microbes make the meal, new diet book proposes

For 10 days, Tom Spector lived off McDonald’s.

He had chicken nuggets or Big Macs for meals, Coke to wash them down and McFlurries for dessert. Tom, a 22-year-old student, was re-creating a version of the diet made famous in the film Supersize Me. But Tom’s plan had a twist: Before and after the diet, he’d give his dad some poop.

Tom’s father, Tim, wanted to see how the bacteria in Tom’s intestines dealt with junk food. The elder Spector, a genetic epidemiologist at Kings College London, thinks that gut microbes may help explain people‘s health problems. Obesity, diabetes and allergies, he argues, could have a root in the billions of bacteria in our guts.

In The Diet Myth, Spector makes a convincing case. The McDonald’s diet blasted his son’s normal bacterial crew, swapping out good bacteria for bad. The book tells a personal story backed up by a mountain of evidence. Spector pounds through study after study linking people’s gut microbes to health and diseases, all the while cutting through diet myths like butter.