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Guts Guts (Charles Michelet)

This hour, we dive into the messy mystery in the middle of us. What's going on down there? And what can the rumblings deep in our bellies tell us about ourselves?

We stick our hand in a cow stomach, get a window into our core (thanks to a hunter who became a walking science experiment in the 1800s), and listen in on the surprising back-and-forth between our gut and our brain. And we talk to a man who kind of went out of his mind when a medical procedure left him (for a little while) gutless.


Correction: An earlier version of this piece implied that subjects in the human probiotics study were given a larger dose of probiotics than they actually were. We also compared the results of the study to the effect of giving people anti-anxiety medication. The subjects did experience a significant positive mood change, but the researchers did not compare that result to the effect of anti-anxiety medication. The audio has been adjusted to reflect these facts.


John Cryan, Frederick Kaufman, Jonah Lehrer, Jon Reiner, Mary Roach, Arlene Shaner and Carl Zimmer

Holey Cow

Not long ago, writer Mary Roach got a real hands-on lesson on the gut: she got to stick her hand inside a real live cow stomach, and experience digestion from the inside. When we heard about her adventure, we had to try it ourselves—so producer Tim Howard headed to Rutgers ...

Comments [14]

Gut Feelings

While Jad was on paternity leave, Carl Zimmer told Robert and producer Soren Wheeler about the ecosystem inside each and every one of us. According to Carl, when we're in the womb, we have no bacteria in us at all, but as soon as we're born we start gathering up ...

Comments [44]


Back in 2009, Jon Reiner was feeling as healthy as he ever had. Jon has Crohn's disease--an autoimmune condition that affects his gastrointestinal system--but it had been in remission for a year. He was eating like a horse and felt terrific. But then one afternoon, a strange and ferocious pain ...

Comments [25]

Comments [73]

Elizabeth Orem from New Mexico

On relationship between gut and mind; i.e. calm, pleasure. W.B. Yeats "Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop:" . ."'Fair and foul are near of kin,/And fair needs foul' . . . Love has pitched his mansion in/The place of excrement. . . ."

Apr. 30 2017 02:01 PM
J Colt from Walnut Creek California

Such an important and relatively new area of study - the mind/ gut connection. It's so important. There is so much to learn here and the potential for relieving suffering at both the mind and body levels is so great. Some of us know instinctively that there is a profound connection, but it takes science to reveal the all-important facts and to bring about solutions to difficult health problems. Here's hoping that inspired scientists can unlock the mysteries of the gut and help those who suffer from physical and mental disorders. Thanks for highlighting this subject. And for great music. (And yes, it was gross and cruel. I want the answers. Wish there was a way to do it without cruelty.)

Apr. 29 2017 07:54 PM
Elizabeth from Santa Moncia, CA

I have recently had a very striking experience with the probiotic saccharomyces boulardii. I took it to counteract the bacteria c difficile. It did help with the c diff symptoms, but I noticed something even more incredible: after being an intense sugar addict for many years, my cravings for sugar, junk food, and overeating completely disappeared and were replaced by cravings for healthy food, especially salads. This effect happened within a couple of days of starting the boulardii and has stayed steady for the past month. I easily became completely sugar free overnight. I feel much better and have lost some weight with no real effort.

My reading of this, in my layman's terms, is that the probiotic somehow reset my brain and blood chemistry, which has had a strong impact on my ability to make positive, NONIMPULSIVE food decisions without the usual mental battle.

I did not have this effect with a previous product that contained a mixture of other probiotics. This occurred specifically with saccharomyces boulardii. I think this anecdotal report of dramatic changes warrants study to find out if boulardii could help with problems like food addiction or maybe even other addictions and impulsivity disorders???

I am now a firm believer that what's in your gut has a profound impact on who you are and how you're living.

Jan. 29 2015 11:07 AM
Gary Makus from United States

I tend to ingest probiotics as from kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, but can't tell if they do any good. I think if there were two of me, one that takes probiotic and one that doesn't I should be able to tell. as it is I do it as an act of faith that they do good. Also not, the way I understand lacto bacteria you have to eat dairy daily to keep them alive.

Jan. 27 2015 06:00 PM
Jeff from Atlanta, Georgia

I began using probiotics about 3 years ago for digestive comfort. I stumbled onto a supplier formulation for seniors which contains a large proportion of Lacto Bacillus. Your story aligns with anecdotal evidence from my family that I have been more positive and serene in the face of life's trials and tribulations since I began using probiotics. I'm still, however, waiting for an improvement in my ability to swim.

Jan. 26 2015 07:02 AM

It's ironic that nonhuman animals are used to study human ills because they are considered to be so similar to us but not enough to care about their well-being. That is plainly willful denial of the reality that other animals suffer fear, pain and distress, too.

Ethics should be a part of science -and of the media- but it is tragically lacking in regard to concern for animals other than human ones. Radiolab has repeatedly exhibited this moral deficiency.

Being that other species are sentient, we have a moral responsibility to give their interests equal consideration. It is also very unscientific to ignore their sentience. To speak of harm inflicted on our fellow sentient beings with such indifference as that expressed on this episode is repugnant.

Jan. 26 2015 02:05 AM
Toni J Wilde from Savannah, Georgia

I think that this is horrible. I don't understand why someone would want to stick their full arm into its full side into the cows stomach. Oddly enough I don't see how this isn't animal cruelty. Who in their right mind would want to do that, and how does that not hurt the cow. That poor thing, I would pummel those humans to death if I were the cow. What is the use of this and why are they putting their freaking hands in the cow!?!? Like wtf I don't understand. That is horrible and I hope that they go to jail for this. Ughh I almost threw up while listening to this, one of the girls said "her arm was stuck after she went up to her shoulder into the cows stomach."

Jan. 25 2015 08:18 PM
Lisa from northern lower Michigan

Several have already pointed this out, but here's proof that Fort Mackinac is pronounced Fort Mackinaw, same as the island it is on and our famous bridge between the lower and upper peninsulas:

The majority of Michigan residents or visitors to the area know this. There are different theories about the history of the naming and pronounciation, but many places in northern Michigan are based on the French Indian language. For example, I live in Leelanau County, pronounced lee-lan-aw, which means "The Land of Delight" and it is!

Also, a prominent hospital in the Detroit area was named after Dr. William Beaumont and is still in business under that name.

Jan. 25 2015 11:30 AM
Evelyn from Boston MA

Sticking your arm up to your shoulder inside a living animal who has had a hole cut into her side, and throwing small creatures into water and watching them struggle -- this is highly disturbing behavior.

The hosts and guests of this program appear to be devoid of empathy for the animal victims described, and insensible to the cruelty being inflicted.

Jan. 24 2015 09:57 PM
Batya from Amherst, MA

You don't have to be a sadist to be a scientist, but it helps.

Jan. 24 2015 05:01 PM
Stephen from Boston, MA

"This is a mouse, just a mouse; does it have anything to say about us?" The blithe obliviousness to the deliberate cruelty involved in dumping animals in water and letting them swim themselves into total exhaustion and despair unfortunately says a lot about you. It's surprising and disappointing to this listener.

Jan. 24 2015 03:37 PM
James Olson-Lee from Sacramento, CA

Great to hear RadioLab educating the public about the our guts. The author, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, has written a book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome (subtitle: Natural treatment for Autism, Dyslexia, Depression, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., A.D.H.D., Schizophrenia) that shares her research and successful application of her treatment by her patients. It turns out that a healthy gut, which is populated with many friendly probiotics, is crucial to our overall well being. I suggest reading this book for anyone who is challenged by any of the disorders mentioned above. Healing a damaged gut wall is fundamental for the absorption of nutrients that enable our brains to function in a healthy manner.

Jan. 21 2015 04:57 PM

Love the Ralph Steadman inspired banner for this podcast.

Jul. 08 2014 03:49 AM

This article from PETA addresses the concern that these fistulated cows are often mutilated for entertainment.

Jun. 10 2014 02:07 PM
Anand from Bellevue, WA

This is one of the best episodes I have heard so far from Radiolab. I became an instant regular podcaster after I listened to your "Blame" episode. So far I have heard nearly a year's worth of podcasts from Radiolab.

I was able to relate to the "Gutless" segment since my father went through feeding via tube inserted directly to his stomach since the neurons that control swallowing and speech in the thoracic region died. But he was not fortunate like him :(

Being an Indian I was fascinated to learn the effects of lacto bacilus found commonly in yogurt. Daily every Indian meal concludes with yogurt. During hot summer days nothing beats a glass of cool buttermilk which is nothing but yogurt made into a liquid by mixing lots of water, cilantro, a dash of ginger and salt.

Jun. 09 2014 02:45 AM


Jan. 10 2014 09:52 PM
Paul from Los Angeles

Alan I came online to find the same thing, was this French study placebo controlled?

And lily, the fact that they did a quantitative measurement of cortisol levels doesn't provide an adequate replacement. The mind-body connection (physical, the only connection that exists) would suggest that if someone feels less anxiety, we would expect to find lower cortisol levels. This doesn't address whether or not being given a pill (i think the probiotics were in pill, not yogurt right? Whichever) in a clinical study on anxiety effects would drop anxiety (and thus cortisol levels) on its own. For the study to be worth anything, a third group needed to be given an identical treatment (pill, yogurt, whatever it was) that contained neither of the two probiotics.

The update makes it sound like the study simply compared the two probiotics to one another. A reference link radiolab my buddies? Please? Alt med researchers love poorly designed studies because otherwise they would find no results like all other researchers studying these things do. That's why I am suspicious, but I want to be fair and wait to see the study's methods. Love the show, -Paul

Dec. 19 2013 04:11 AM
Trane Levington from Seattle

Greetings. I know if you can get through the many details of what I will tell you here, it will help, especially if you ever have a tongue you are unhappy with. The bad taste on your tongue is due to bacteria. This will benefit the man who couldn't eat, anyone with tongue cancer, smokers, and everyone else. When you brush your teeth, do you end up with a tongue tasting of toothpaste ? If you follow these instructions, dentist approved, you will have a natural, neutral, no-taste tongue. If you snore, you will awake with a less-awful mouth. The reason to brush your teeth before sleep is that is the longest undisturbed period within the 24-hour cycle, giving the decay bacteria the most opportunity to do the most damage. So, if you only brush once a day, before retiring is the most important. This practice could cure those always swigging mouthwash.
Get a small, plastic, shallow jar, about 2"-3" in diameter, fill it with baking soda. Get an old-style toothbrush, all the bristles the same length, in case you use another type for your teeth. When you are all done brushing and rinsing, wet the toothbrush with cold water, dip it as flatly as possible in the baking soda. For the first three days, you will experience this as way too salty, then, it stops completely, unless you have a long interval of absence from this practice. Spread the baking soda all over your tongue-about as much as you can see in the mirror, going into the area in shadow might engage the retch reflex. You are trying to evenly coat the surface.
If necessary, dip again. Rinse the brush in cold water, scrape your tongue of baking soda. Rinse. Go again. Smokers may need to do this three times. Only the first three days are a challenge. By the fourth day, when the excessive saltiness quits, you will have it down to a quick little routine, that only adds a few minutes to your dental hygiene routine. And you'll be so pleasantly surprised: Ooh, I don't have to end the day with a "foreign" taste in my mouth.
Gut bacteria = good. Mouth bacteria = eliminate.

Oct. 26 2013 04:53 AM

FYI: let your guest who interprets the 'hole in the stomach' story know that Fort Mackinac is not pronounced the way it looks--it is sounds like 'Mackinaw'--the 'c' at the end is silent.

Oct. 20 2013 09:16 PM

To Alan from San Francisco who only caught 10 minutes of this program, and was very disappointed in how the result were evaluated, to use his words "This is God-awful scientific reporting". Minute 11 of the report went on to say in addition to asking the participants questions about their mood, the participants level of stress hormones were evaluated by testing their urine. Those results confirmed a lower level of stress hormones in the participants who ate the bacteria. As Alan mentioned, we need to hold ourselves to rigorous standards of scientific reporting. I am sure Alan would agree this includes listening to the entire report and not drawing conclusions without hearing the whole story! I have long been a fan of Kefir...Incidentally, the name comes from Turkish and means feel good.. This made me smile as I listen to the report. I love when science confirms and explains something that has been true for centuries.

Oct. 20 2013 12:22 PM
Alan from San Francisco

I only caught 10 minutes of this program, but what I heard was deeply distressing from a scientific perspective. The report went something like this, "the study surveyed people's moods by asking them a number of questions about how they were feeling. Then they gave them probiotics and asked them the same questions again. They found that the probiotics had made people happier." The program then went on to talk about how this makes sense because of blah blah blah... GAH! This is God-awful scientific reporting. What about the control group?!!! Did they even have one? You can't just say this stuff & write it off like it's scientific confirmation of something... or anything for that matter. For all we know this study has only managed to confirm the placebo effect. For example, I had a cold last year. After 2 days I was feeling so miserable that I slammed my head into a wall. Amazingly, I started getting better. I have therefore discovered the cure for the common cold: slam your head into a wall. Hard. If it doesn't work, try repeating.

If we don't hold ourselves to the basic standards of scientific rigor then we're no better than the science-deniers.

Oct. 19 2013 05:17 PM

This article by David Perlmutter also discusses the mind/gluten connection:

Aug. 23 2013 01:42 PM

The most recent commenter reminded me of that story about the chef who battled tongue cancer and lost his sense of taste:

Apr. 07 2013 02:04 AM
John Freas from Franklin Ky

I had tongue cancer and my story is very much like the guy who didn't eat for a year, but mine goes on and on with no hope of a cure. I can eat some things but it's so unpleasant I don't, it is very hard to eat, it doesn't taste good, so I often avoid it and just go hungry. In my case Radiaion destroyed my salvary and taste glands. I have a dry mouth and that makes it hard to eat, I must take in fluids to swallow which makes me cold after eating. I have exposed jawbone that was killed by the Radiation which cuts my mouth when I try to 'chew' (no teeth), I have to use my tongue to eat but the jawbone cuts it and it takes two or three days to heal. But I tell you life is better, at least that's what I tell myself to keep going on.

Dec. 14 2012 03:48 AM
VIKetchup from Korea

It is my first episode to listen on Radiolab. Gained more knowledge and that was really interesting! This was my first time to finish listening an episode. I never could finish until the end because I'm bad at focusing on one thing for a long time.

Thanks for making this episode! I love it!

Dec. 07 2012 12:00 AM

This is my first time listening to Radiolab. I really did enjoy listening to you guys and I have gained some more knowledge about GUTS. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing and making this radio show! :D

Nov. 04 2012 07:04 PM
Natalie from New Jersey

Thanks for this great show. I suffer from Gastroparesis, or paralysis of the stomach. Since diagnosis, I've spent the last few years trying to figure out just what my stomach is (or isn't) doing. I feel that there just isn't enough conversation about the unique roll that the gastric system has on one's life. I can't say how much it means to hear this discussion in such a fun and entertaining way. Keep up the good work.

Sep. 12 2012 04:15 PM
mxn from VA

I listened to this podcast on a way to give a presentation I was real nervous about, and just before speaking I ate some yoghurt and imagined the my little bacteria friends calming me down. Worked like a charm!

That little anecdotal story aside, I find it really amazing to think that we have a symbiotic relationship with "external" bacteria that affect our unique personality.

Thanks for the episode, great stuff.

Sep. 08 2012 12:16 PM
sewer king from East Tennessee

Keep it up Radio Lab. This is a fascinating part of science and you have a great way of making it very accessible. Part of my day job is working in a waste water treatment plant, and our plant is quite literally another digestive system. Talking about our own digestive system is a great way to begin talking about what to most is the nasty business of sewage treatment.

I like the comment from Raquel in Austin, I too get pissed when I'm hungry. This is especially when my family travels. Happy microbes makes happy humans, which makes for happy travels.

Aug. 04 2012 10:19 PM
Raquel from Austin, TX

I have always been ruled by my stomach. If I am pissed its because I am hungry. If I am incapable of making full sentences its because I am past hungry. If you ever find your self on the other side of my "I am going to kill you" face, just give me some food and all is forgotten. (My husband learned that trick along time ago)
My dad is the same way and we have always fought people insisting we are just being big babies. But now we have an explanation as to why our food and our mood are so strongly linked.
Thanks RadioLab!

Aug. 01 2012 03:51 PM

i LOVE radiolab and this episode is fascinating. i love it when you cite human discoveries such as the beaumont/st martin story. i want to challenge you to produce a show that doesn't cite VIVISECTION!!! it might be a fun thing to attempt. <3

Jul. 28 2012 03:04 PM


Jul. 20 2012 09:29 PM
Peter W from Dublin

The slow, trippy, ambient music playing exactly 34 minutes in, almost at the end of the yoghurt mice piece: is that a Jad piece, or by someone else?

I'm not talking about the charlie mingus that bridges to the next piece....

Jul. 09 2012 07:46 PM

this was a very interesting episode. thumbs up! :)

Jun. 24 2012 08:55 PM
Mike from PA, USA

@chug from san diego: the song is 'Everybody Eats When They Come to My House' by Cab Calloway.

Jun. 17 2012 09:35 PM
Elaine LiveseyFassel from Los Angeles,Calif.

Just wanted to leave a generic yet genuine THANK YOU for this endlessly fascinating program! I always learn something new and relevant. The topic of the GUTS, was even more so in that my beautiful mother almost died from a ruptured COLON yet her superb surgeon brought her back to life and while she now has a colostemy, she is a relatively healthy 91 year old despite that challenge! I learned so much from this episode and will continue to look forward to your creative view on many such topics!

Jun. 17 2012 07:22 PM
chug from san diego

whats the name of the song played at the end of the guts podcast?

Jun. 16 2012 08:58 PM
Vanna P. Per. 1

1.) Five facts that I would like someone else to know include the following:
- By time you are old enough to begin school, an average child has 100 trillion micro-organsims in you. If you were to clump all of the bacteria in your body, it would weigh about three pounds.
- There was a scientist who performed an experiment with bacteria. The experiment was to see how long mice who ate bacteria can survive in the water. The mouse that did eat bacteria were able to continue surviving in the water. They lasted up to six minutes and could have gone longer.
- Stress hormones were increased in those mice who did not eat the bacteria. That is why they were not able to survive. Those mice who ate the bacteria didn't have nearly as much stress hormones because they were relaxed.
-The guts are found below the stomach and it is a location which contains several bacteria. Some of the most in the body. Bacteria that can be found includes fungi.
- There are medicines which contains "bugs" in them that bacteria will feed off of when it is in you. Also, the mind and the way to think is controlled by the bacteria in your body. That is why they say the guts are "in your brain." It isn't a literal comment.

2.) This podcast included multiple facts that were interesting and new to me. I never knew that part of your mind is controlled by bacteria found within the guts. I always thought that the brain was controlled by nerves. I never understood what the minds of people were truly controlled by. Next, the experiment on the mice was quite surprising. I would never have imagined that bacteria could make you live so much longer especially under water. It was interesting to hear how those mice who ate the bacteria developed less stress hormones compared to those mice who did not eat the bacteria. Overall, there were several things that I learned in this podcast having to do with the bacterium found in a persons gut.

3.) I did enjoy listening to this podcast because the information was interesting. The people who conducted this podcast really kept my interest. I especially enjoyed when the scientist came and talked about the experiment he performed. The most interesting fact that I learned was based off of the experiment how those mice who ate bacteria developed less stress hormones than those who did not eat the bacteria. When I think of the word bacteria, I think of something in your body that can harm you and make you ill. However, by listening to this podcast, I was convinced that bacteria are actually important; they can save your life. If I had to pick out one thing that I did not like about this podcast was that I didn't feel like the information was really on "guts." The podcast was more about bacteria. Otherwise, I enjoyed this podcast and it was interesting.

May. 25 2012 03:32 PM
Maddie S. Per. 1

5 facts:
- The intestines contain foreign creatures that are non-human things like fungi, viruses, bacteria, and protosones,
-There are about 100 trillion bacteria in a stomach/intestine of a child before they start/enter school.
-Belmont a scientist, studied the digestion of the stomach by using St. Martin's fistgia (a whole in his stomach). He experimented the stomach by putting food in it, and testing how fast it would take for the certain food to digest.
-A test used on how bacteria works within the stomach was tested on mice. The tests showed that the mice that contained bacteria within their stomach were put in a stressful situation they would not contain any despair and stayed calm; compared to their natural reactions where they freaked out and eventually gave up.
-Microtubuials can get into the brain and head.
-Bacteria are mainly found in the intestines.
-Bacteria feeds off of gaba creating less stress and despair.
-In the inner stomach, liquid bumps with drew when food was being digested. Belmont examined how juice squeezed out. The Gastric Juice is a chemical stomach acid that contains enzymes that breakdown food.
-Bacteria and probiotics can affect certain moods and personalities.
-Probiotics can improve disorders by changing emotions, moods and personalities.
-Bacteria can affect your mood, how you react, and personality.
-How people can have holes in their stomachs (Fistigia).
-Bacteria can affect someone's reaction and mood.
To be honest, I don't have one negative comment about this podcast. It was very interesting and I kept wanting to listen in more. I loved how there were many different examples on the stomach and bacteria. It was cool that both were explained in entertaining ways, so I became very interested. The most interesting part of the podcast was Belmont's experiments on the stomach. I think it was so cool that he uncovered this discovery from just being curious and experimenting with a volunteer. It was so cool how he "fished" the food into the stomach, and as it reappeared there was only half of the food left. By receiving the data from the experiment, the scientist proved how powerful the digestive system was and how it worked in our bodies. Belmont brought is Gastric Juice all around the world with him and proved that it could be stilled used and work outside of our bodies due to it being chemical.

May. 18 2012 11:24 PM
Catherine from Tampa, FL

I absolutely LOVED this episode, i couldn't stop laughing :) totally made my day. You guys (& team) are amazing!!!!

May. 10 2012 10:48 AM
Bob from California

We do heart transplants, kidney transplants, face transplants, etc but how many people know we also do stool transplants? Yes, that is transplanting someone elses feces in your colon to help cure Clostridium difficile infection. It brings a whole new perspective to being an organ donor.

May. 07 2012 09:37 PM
Thomas from Youngstown, OH

Please post the titles and artists of your bumper music! What's playing at 17:30-18:05?

May. 02 2012 08:53 PM
Moses from Ann Arbor

Re the fistulated cow, this is something that is a not uncommon occurrence in veterinary schools. Better that than using cadavers or multiple surgeries to study the bovine digestive system. Give 'em a break.

Apr. 25 2012 04:32 PM
Lizzie Pinker from GA

I loved this episode. I used to suffer from bulimia, and sometimes I still have this dumb idea stuck in my head that my intestines are extremely gross and something to be ashamed of. Who knew that what goes on between "your mutt and your gut" could be a source of fascination and wonder? I loved the words of the writer you interviewed, the idea that digestion is cool because you're taking things outside of you and making them part of you, and that we're essentially donuts. How cool is that? Maybe I should cut my insides some slack and even read his book and get really interested in them :) This episode has really changed the way I see things for the better. Thanks, Radiolab! You guys rock my socks!

Apr. 24 2012 12:05 AM
Jim_Thomas from Boston

I think Mackinac is pronounced "Mackinaw" like the jacket (please correct me if I'm wrong).

Apr. 21 2012 08:31 PM

i don't think i can put it much better than BAS from seattle, but...

i love love love radiolab, but i love love love and have great compassion for animals more than anything, and this episode was absolutely painful to listen to. there is really no reason whatsoever for the cow or mice experiments/stories - this sort of thing is simply indefensible today given modern knowledge, which indeed came on the tiny furry backs of many a 'just a mouse' subject. isn't that enough?

guys, really, not even a single mention about animal experimentation or a cautionary word at the get-go for those of us who cringe at the mere thought of causing something pain?

i'm no PETA nutter, but i was truly offended by the gross disregard for for these creatures; you should be ashamed. and the woman with her arm in the cow who only regarded the poor being enough to say it 'looked bored'?! what a ridiculous, callous, disrespectful comment.

------> where's your common sense and respect for both creatures and listeners, radiolab?

Apr. 21 2012 02:04 AM
John from Vienna, Austria

What is the music that is playing right after Gut Feelings at 33 minutes and 40 seconds? I love it! Also love the podcast, thanks guys!

Apr. 19 2012 04:28 AM

Back in 1959 my late father had several feet of megacolon ("Hirshsprung's syndrome") removed as he had stomach problems for years. It was genetic, but he was still slender-no big belly--like all the men in the family. He also came down with asthma two years later, which he kept under control.

Apr. 16 2012 05:57 PM
Tara Wight from Venice CA

I almost simultaneously passed out and threw up listening to this episode.

Don't get me wrong, I love radiolab and found the episode really interesting, but I made the mistake of cooking while listening to it. I've always thought people were being dramatic when they said they "couldn't eat anymore" after listening to a disgusting story, but now I completely get it. Again, not that this episode was disgusting, but I was standing over the stove cooking mushrooms and had just finished the portion about stomach acids breaking down food, and was just moving onto the story about non-human bacteria living in the stomach when all of the sudden I lost my appetite completely, started feeling nauseous and ran to the bathroom, nearly passing out on the way.

Jad and Robert, if you somehow read this post, it would be really interesting to hear a follow up about the power the mind has over the stomach. There's a chance that you might cover that later on in this episode, but I don't think I could stomach hearing the rest (pun intended.)


Apr. 15 2012 11:36 PM

Can you break up the hour long Guts podcast into smaller parts (by story)? I'm trying to download it but my internet cuts out frequently - I can't finish the 50 mb download.

Apr. 13 2012 09:26 AM
Jérôme from Pennsylvania

I always really enjoy you're choice of music. Just three notes of that bari were enough to get me back into Charles Mingus after the many years those albums spent gathering dust. I owe you one there!
Also, tremendously insightful episode as always. Keep it up!

Apr. 12 2012 08:02 PM
Jon Reiner from NYC

For answers to all of these excellent questions about me, my health, mental health, probiotics, my family, etc., I invite you to please read my memoir, The Man Who Couldn't Eat. It's all there. Thank you for the listen.

Apr. 11 2012 12:43 PM
Nick from Michigan

Everyone in Michigan knows that Mackinac is pronounced Mak-in-aw .... oops ;P

Apr. 11 2012 11:00 AM
Jodi from Boston

I was struck by the lack of psychiatric/mental health care in Jon Reiner's story. Were his doctor's unaware of how much he was struggling? From his telling of the story, it sounds like the standard of care in such cases, where patients are barred from eating food for months on end, should include the occasional psychiatric evaluation.

Apr. 11 2012 08:31 AM
Phil from LIRR

Makes me wonder about those yoghurt commercials with all those guys living in central asia eating yoghurt and living to 106. Perhaps their stress levels were so low from the probiotics in the yoghurt that they weren't experiencing the destructive effects of the chemicals dumped into a body under stress.

Apr. 10 2012 04:37 AM
Arianna Feinberg from New York

If you want a great source of probiotics drink Nancy's kefir. Some doctors prescribe it instead of expensive probiotic pills. Maybe it'll reduce anxiety!? I volunteer to participate in the experiments :)

Apr. 10 2012 02:02 AM
Penny G from Los Angeles

Does anyone know what track plays after the first story when they talk about the body being left in the sun for 4 days and then buried under rocks so no one would exhume it?


Apr. 09 2012 07:14 PM
BAS from Seattle, WA

I'm horrified at how much of this episode incorporates cruelty to animals. A hole in the side of a cow where you can stick in an entire human arm and poke around? Simulated drowning of mice and cutting of nerves to the brain? Regardless of what is found as a result, all of this seems so entirely cruel and yet that aspect is unaddressed. I'm disturbed and anxious and flabbergasted at the abuse inflicted in the name of science. Jad: "This is just a mouse". Really? So what species would you draw a line at abusing? I love Radiolab, but this episode was so painful for me to listen to.

Apr. 09 2012 02:49 PM
stephanie from Tennessee

My husband has colon cancer. His depression came on suddenly about two years before his diagnosis. Makes me wonder?! Also makes me want to buy out the world's supply of probiotics! Thanks, Radiolab, you've done it again!

Apr. 07 2012 06:59 PM
J-bone from Boston

Anyone else wondering what happened to the dude's wife and family? I was heartbroken when she left. It felt like such a betrayal.

Apr. 07 2012 03:22 PM
Scott from San Diego, CA

Does anyone know what the music was after the first segment (about the guy with the hole in his stomach). It sounded like an accordion. Really liked it and want to track it down.

Apr. 07 2012 02:30 PM
Naomi from Michigan

Loved, loved, loved as always. BUT Mackinac is pronounced Mack-i-naw, it is French! It was great, though, to hear some new history about a fort I've visited since elementary school class trips.

Apr. 06 2012 03:15 PM
Lars from Denmark

Shehan, regarding the song playing underneath 'Gutless'.

It's Clair De Lune by the French composer Claude-Achille Debussy. It's the third movement of his 'Suite Bergamasque'

Funny Fact: It was the first song/piece to ever be recorded. From

"In March 2008 a recording by Frenchman Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville of a woman singing 'Au Clair De La Lune' was discovered in an archive in Paris by a group of American audio historians. The recording dates back to April 9, 1860 making it the world's first known recorded song."

Apr. 06 2012 08:39 AM

Great show this time. I have been travling the road of OCD and depression for decades. 5 years ago I turned into one of those gluten free freaks. (tested positive for celiac disease). Within months I was feeling better,body and mind. Oh,and by the way,my wife and kids were kind enough not to eat San Francisco sourdough in front of me. In fact my kids tested positive later on so we all went on the wagon.

Apr. 05 2012 12:22 AM
Dan Huffman from Tokyo, Japan

This latest episode of WNYC Radio Lab has confirmed my suspicions that my inexplicable and oft occurring quick-tempered, depressed, panicky moods were connect to my bouts of diverticulitis which began ten years ago and has hospitalized me three times. I can tell when my diverticulitis is about to get serious by an inexplicable mood swing to irritable angriness.

Apr. 04 2012 11:36 PM
Shehan from San Francisco, CA

What song is played during "Gutless" where Jon Reiner is speaking about Chanterelle. It was really moving!

Apr. 04 2012 04:06 PM
Ceridwynne from New York

This podcast evoked so many facial expressions that I am sure I looked like one of the crazies on the train. But since I am in New York, I am sure no one noticed (or at least pretended not to). Great show! Thank you.

Apr. 04 2012 12:08 PM

I saw some cows in Arkansas with open "port-holes" in their sides. They were part of a university farming field-test. Even though it looked very bizzare, they seemed quite content. I thought they would make a great golfing novelty - tee-hee.

Apr. 04 2012 11:24 AM
Andre from North Jersey

Great show - loved the cleverly abridged performance of "The Man Who Couldn't Eat". Big Jon Reiner fan!

Apr. 03 2012 10:47 PM

Please feel free to never eat directly into the microphone again. The gut talks, fistulas and whatnot are fine, but that is unacceptable.

Apr. 03 2012 05:25 PM
Andrew G from Nairobi, Kenya

Great show! My favorite part (besides the fact that bacteria tell me to calm down), was the quip about our bodies having a hole through them from mouth to anus. Reminded me of the mathematics of topology, where (as far as my high school geometry lesson taught me) a coffee cup is the same as a doughnut is the same as... us?

Apr. 03 2012 03:08 PM
Kyle from Tennessee

Should I be eating lunch while I listen to this? Oh well...

Apr. 03 2012 12:53 PM
Martin from Texas, US

Great podcast, I can definitely relate. I have IBS, and have been taking probiotics for a 2 months now, one thing I have noticed, well my siblings noticed was my mood.

Apr. 03 2012 12:52 PM

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