Deepak Chopra Thinks Stomach Bacteria Listens to Your Thoughts

By George Dvorsky on at

Questionable-tweet publisher 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 (i.e. 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 schools.

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. [Forbes]

Image: AP

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