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Attention PR Folks: How Not to Do Your Job


A couple weeks ago, I published an article at Forbes titled “Keep Calm And Avoid Microbiome Mayhem.” The story covered the recent Microbiome Medicine Summit, an online event featuring speakers like Deepak Chopra, Mark Hyman, Joseph Mercola, and Sayer Ji. In other words, the event showcased the who’s who of microbiome and other health woo.

The TL;DR version of the article:  Microbiome research is happening. We know that the human microbiome (the entirety of bacteria and microbes in a human body, or all of the genes they contain) has an impact on health. Further, we know that our behaviors and diets influence our microbiomes. With quotes from some of the top experts in the field, the article explains that what science knows about the microbiome is still just the tip of the iceberg, and it’s far too premature to make the type of recommendations made at this recent summit.

Cue absurd PR email:

PR email fail
Don’t do this, AKA PR email fail

Here’s the thing. If you’re a PR person, and you say you “caught” a piece, make sure you actually read it before you email the author.

As I wrote in the Forbes piece:

“By and large, the scientific and medical communities seem to stress the importance of avoiding unnecessary antibiotics to protect our microbiomes and, importantly, to mitigate the real and alarming problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria, now thought to be one of the most pressing health problems in the world. It also doesn’t hurt to pop a probiotic or have yogurt during and after a course of antibiotics, though research still hasn’t determined whether beneficial bacteria from these products will take up long-term residence in our guts. And in general, eat less sugar and more fiber. The rest, for now, is hype.”


Featured image credit:  ijmaki via Pixabay

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  1. “Leading probiotic provides 15x optimal gut health”

    So there is some level of gut health which is optimal – by definition, the best possible level of gut health, superior to any other level of gut health, whether higher or lower. Having established this optimum, instead of delivering the optimum this probiotic misses it by more than an order of magnitude.

    “Leading diet provides 15x optimal calories.” (Probably this one:

  2. The microbiome thing is interesting, but the last thing I want to do is leave it to the largely-unregulated supplement industry. (And by “largely” I mean “well, if they kill a few people, including a few celebrities, it would still take an act of Congress to regulate them”.)

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