A New Benefit for Poop
By Cody Sung
Volume 2 Issue 7
June 13, 2022
Image provided by Clevland Health Clinic
Scientists have found a new benefit for poop. According to the New York Post, a company named Fitbiomics is making poop pills under the name Nella. According to their website, the pills focus on improving your gut’s microbiome, the bacteria that lives in your digestive tract. The pills contain bacteria from the guts of professional athletes that can improve performance. The bacteria is extracted from their poop. According to the New York Post, one person who tried it, a man named Steve Gallagher, was able to work out 40% longer and with more intensity. On Nella’s website, there are comments from other professional athletes praising the pills for improving their performance. Here is how the pill was created, and how science may not back it up at all.
The CEO of Fitbiomics, Dr. Jonathan Scheiman, said he started off as a basketball player who had a dream of being in the NBA. He did not make it, and so turned to studying biomedicine and got a PHD in the subject area. He wanted to know how superstar athletes stood out, and Scheiman went down the path of gut microbes. In 2015 he started going around Boston, where he resided, and began collecting poop samples from 15 elite runners training for the Boston Marathon, as well as ordinary people. Scheiman found out that in the runners, there was more of the bacterium Veillonella atypica than in the ordinary people. To see if the bacteria made any difference, Scheiman put two groups of lab mice on treadmills. One group was given the bacteria while the other was not. The Veillonella-assisted group ran 13% longer than the group not given the bacteria. Scheiman though he had found it. So, does science say if it actually works?
It’s not entirely clear. Despite the performance increase shown by Scheiman, according to the New York Times and NPR, there are other factors to consider involving this topic. Veillonella may work differently in people who are not physically active, including the possibility of dying instantly. The research also did not analyze whether the baseline levels of the bacteria made racers finish the marathon quicker or whether it was the effect of a higher concentration of lactate, which Veillonella eats. Finally, the 13% longer endurance benefit may not even end up scaling to humans. However, scientists are still not sure whether the factors mentioned before actually play a key role in whether these poop pills work or not. So, we will not know if these poop pills actually work until more evidence is found.