Deepak Chopra Thinks Stomach Bacteria Listens To Your Thoughts

Deepak Chopra Thinks Stomach Bacteria Listens to Your Thoughts

Holistic health advocate Deepak Chopra is at it again, this time spouting his patented food nonsense at the "Fat Summit" online conference. While speaking to celebrity doctor and alternative medicine enthusiast Mark Hyman, Chopra explained that the vast collection of microbes in our gut are actually capable of listening to our thoughts. As science and technology correspondent Kavin Senapathy reports at Forbes, Chopra spoke to Hyman in a one-on-one, but instead of talking about fats in our food, he used the opportunity to address a different subject, namely "leaky gut syndrome". Chopra linked the gross-sounding and possibly fake condition to the human genome, the epigenome (that is, the body of characteristics that are triggered after conception) and the microbiome (the collection of hundreds of trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi living in and on each of our bodies, particularly in our gut). Leaky gut syndrome is a hypothetical condition, one that's not taught in medical school.

Scientists have started to study the microbiome in detail, and they're learning some fascinating things about it and how it relates to our health. Leaky gut syndrome, on the other hand, is supposedly an ailment of the intestinal tract that Senapathy rightfully describes as a condition "promoted by pseudoscientists" and "not recognised by the mainstream medical community". Scientists are starting to get a grip on the issue of intestinal permeability, but statements made by Chopra are certainly not helping. Senapathy writes:

In Deepak Chopra's dream world, "we are a few human cells hanging on to a bacterial colony, we are the awakening of bacterial consciousness." According to the celebrity butcher of science, the microbiome has likes and dislikes.

"It doesn't like anything that's refined, manufactured, processed, GMO'd, because again GMO interferes with its ecology. It is the life of the earth. And when it gets inflamed, it sends out metabolites that cause disruption of the activity, both of the epigenome and of the gene directly."

Whoa, full stop: Chopra's suggestion that the microbiome doesn't like things that are "GMO'd" is clearly problematic. Terms like "GMO" and "Genetically Modified Organisms" are scientifically arbitrary. Moreover, Chopra failed to describe how it is exactly the trillions of bacteria in our guts can actually discern something that's "GMO'd" from something that's supposedly natural. Well, aside from some kind of specious "conscious" link.

And when the conversation turned to yoga, Chopra said:

I love yoga, and I do it, and I always feel transformed, and it's amazing that not only your genes are listening to your thoughts, but your microbiome, the bacteria are listening to your thoughts.

Sigh. As Senapathy so eloquently put it:

The functions, interactions and inner workings of these "omes" are complex, with our understanding of them still at an infant stage. In other words, what we know about the microbiome, epigenome and genome is dwarfed by what we have yet to learn, and Deepak Chopra exploits this, taking brazen liberties to fill in the gaps.

Obviously, this is hardly the first time that Chopra's taken some brazen liberties with the truth. And it surely won't be the last.


Image: AP

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    Stomach bacteria listens to Chopra because they speak the same language: farts.

      Why cant I do more than one likes.. I want like a 100 likes for this one :)

    Leaky gut syndrome is real, and i dont oike how you just exclaimed its fake right off the bat. Its a broad condition with greater reasearch and testing a medical cause can be found to a particular culprit in some cases akin to a food allergy where the food doesnt cause a reaction the digestion results in toxic by products entering the body, a lot of reasearch is available in relation to gut problems in autism spectrum and mental health... food can effect the brain, but the rest if it... nope, willpower doesnt effect the hitchikers in your belly, no amount of hippie thinking besides the placebo effect would make me think talking to my stomach will help.

      Leaky gut, as it's currently defined by the Chinese whispers of the internet mass which spawned it, is absolute humbug.

      It may contain some twisted kernels of actual science, but they are only present in an attempt to give clout to an entirely fabricated condition.

      Leaky git syndrome is the medical world's intelligent design, it's even just as stupidly named.

        Unfortunately chances are that without the hype and infamy "Leaky Gut" has found online actual scientist would never have even started looking in that direction. Same with probiotics in general. In my experience many scientists and doctors seem to think that if they can't already diagnose it it's not a real problem. The interest and hype these things generate at least show that there is a real issue here worthy of investigation.

        As someone with constant stomach issues I have tried all the options standard medicine has been able to throw at me. I refuse to buy into any of these types of hype with no scientific backing including LGS and candida overgrowth ect but I'm still really happy that it has prompted someone to find those "Twisted Kernels of actual science" and hopefully build on them properly.

        TLDR Its nuts but at least its prompting new research, even if it is just to disprove the hype.

          Science was on the road to discovering the importance of our microbiome well before LGS was even a twinkle in the internet's eye.

          Discovering the primary source of stomach ulcers won the Nobel prize, and the benefits of fecal transplantation has been studied by modern medicine for over half a century. This isn't news.

          While raising awareness of an area of study is good, the wealth of misinformation associated with things like LGS often do more harm than good.

          Last edited 29/01/16 2:31 pm

      do you mean "affect"?

      for more bedside reading:

      We need information to make informed choice, science has unleashed untold benefits to humanity as well as untold suffering... Balance is needed.

      NB. Depak appears to be a nutter, though microbes are quite a lot more complicated than the proponents of smart goo would have us believe, they probably know a whole lot more about our biophysiology than any scientist has yet figured out..

      Last edited 28/01/16 7:30 pm

    I'm 100% behind the idea that everything is in some way connected. Perhaps not exactly as Deepak describes but the idea that being stressed (thoughts ) can lead to chronic illness is pretty well agreed. More scientific research on how our bodies, our thoughts, our environment are connected would not be wasted. It may prove a lot more useful than searching fora magic pill that will cure obesity.

      That impact can easily be described by the notion that stress affects the proper function of our immune system which in turn let things breach some of the bio defences and hence lead to illnesses.. Do you think every little molecule/bacteria has a brain of its own and some leader in there strategises how to behave just becuase they dont like what the career (person) is thinking?

    Just looking at that picture.. I will be quite convinced not to believe what the guy says.. it emits some dodginess :)

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