Unveiling the Microbiome's Power: From Netflix to Clinical Breakthroughs

Unveiling the Microbiome's Power: From Netflix to Clinical Breakthroughs

By Andrea McBeth, ND


I am writing this after a recent transition from primarily working behind the scenes—reading, thinking, and strategizing about how we can better support our ThaenaBiotic® customers, both patients and providers, to attending in-person conferences across the country on Thaena’s behalf. Along with my regular updates on microbiome literature, I have been introduced to all sorts of passionate people working in this space and the conversation and excitement about the microbiome feel more palpable than ever. When there is a top-listed documentary on Netflix featuring all my favorite scientists, closely followed by a compelling podcast with a leading researcher on one of the more mainstream platforms, I cannot help but think it is not just me and all these enthusiasts around me; cool stuff is happening—and has been happening—and we are starting to get the word out to people who have never heard of fecal transplant or postbiotics, nevermind crapsules.

This month, I am taking a quick break from our Metabolite of the Month series to share a couple examples of this “cool stuff” in action: First, is my take on the new Netflix documentary, Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut, plus resources for you to dive deeper into the work of the film’s featured scientists. Next is the Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian interview on the Rich Roll podcast, hot on the heels of a very important publication in The Lancet showing that fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) improved Parkinson's symptoms in a Phase 2 clinical trial.

Buckle up! I hope you are ready for the new energy and rhythm of all this exciting work being done in the microbiome space. This blog may just be a gateway to many hours down the proverbial worm (or gut) hole of how the microbiome can impact and help us find a healthier future and a new world paradigm… 

Step 1) Netflix’s Documentary "Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut"

The Netflix documentary, Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut, serves as a brilliant primer on the profound impact the gut microbiome has on our overall health. Presented through a mix of expert interviews and personal stories, it unpacks the concept of the microbiome as an essential organ system—a complex ecosystem that acts as one of our most vital resources. 

What struck me the most was how effectively the documentary simplifies the science behind the microbiome without diluting its importance. It introduces viewers to the idea that our gut bacteria play a pivotal role not just in digestion but in our overall health and well-being. The emphasis on fiber, as a cornerstone of gut health, underscores a crucial message: While some of us struggle to tolerate it, finding ways to rebuild a microbiome that can happily digest fruits, vegetables, fermented foods, chia, and other fiber sources is crucial. For those of us that can tolerate fiber, never forget the ABC’s of fiber (not calories) – Always Be Counting -- the more the better. 

Hack Your Health shines in its presentation of a variety of patient stories, each illustrating that everyone has their own path in understanding and managing their microbiome to improve their health. As a clinician, it resonates deeply with me because it reflects the reality that each patient's journey is unique. The discussion about daily health indicators such as the quality of one's poop and the joy food brings is both relatable and vital. Questions like, "Are we having healthy poops based on the Bristol Stool Scale?" and "Does eating food bring us joy?" are posed not just as conversation starters but as fundamental to understanding our health.

The filmmakers did an excellent job of being comprehensive yet accessible. They touched on advanced topics like bacterial metabolism and fecal transplants without overwhelming us - something I know I can be guilty of when I get excited. Featuring renowned scientists like John Cryan, Rob Knight, and Justin Sonnenberg, whose work I've followed for years, added significant credibility and fascination to the narrative. Below is a list of these and other notable scientists featured in the documentary, along with links to what I believe are some of their most engaging talks and interviews:

In conclusion, Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut is more than just a documentary; it is a gateway into the expansive world of microbiome research. It provides an accessible path for understanding how this “hidden organ” influences everything from our mood to our immune system. For anyone curious about the science of gut health or seeking practical advice on improving their own microbiome, this documentary is a must-watch. It is simple, it is informative, and most importantly, it is a catalyst for change, encouraging viewers to think more critically about their health through the lens of their gut.

Step 2) Exploring the Future of the Gut-Brain Axis with Sarkis Mazmanian on the Rich Roll Podcast

Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian, a prominent researcher in microbiome science, was interviewed on The Rich Roll podcast and they discussed the future of the gut-brain axis. This episode goes beyond microbiome basics—which, admittedly, never hurts to hear again—and touches on some of the most cutting-edge work in the field. The podcast begins with a solid, 40-minute introduction to the fundamentals of the microbiome, setting the stage for a deeper dive into his latest research. Dr. Mazmanian brings a collegiate level of enthusiasm to the discussion, exploring how our understanding of the microbiome's impact on neurological health has evolved. A decade ago, the idea of fecal transplant research progressing to Phase 2 clinical trials with compelling efficacy data would have seemed inconceivable. At that time, the scientific community was just beginning to convince neurologists that our gut and diet could significantly impact neurological symptoms and diseases. Now, the conversation has shifted dramatically. 

Dr. Mazmanian’s insights help bridge the gap between the theoretical and the practical, emphasizing the real-world impacts of gut health on brain health. The discussion does not directly cover the recent landmark Phase 2 clinical trial findings published in The Lancet, where FMT showed improvements in Parkinson's disease symptoms. However, it sets a perfect preamble to introduce these groundbreaking results. His podcast underscores the burgeoning promise of microbiome interventions and how they pave the way for revolutionary approaches to treating neurological disorders. Towards the end, Dr. Mazmanian breaks down the reality of why we do and do not see more microbiome based drugs and therapies. I appreciated his warning about the utility of gastrointestinal (GI) testing, and where we may go in the future. 

As you listen to this podcast, you will appreciate why "pooping right" could be fundamental to neurological health, similar to themes explored in the Netflix documentary but with a deeper scientific rigor.

Step 3) A Groundbreaking Parkinson’s Study

In the evolving landscape of microbiome research, a recent clinical trial has captured significant attention. Published last month in The Lancet, this study investigated the efficacy of FMT in treating Parkinson's disease. Conducted as a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized Phase 2 trial, it involved 46 participants with mild to moderate Parkinson's. Over 12 months, the study measured improvements in motor symptoms using the Movement Disorders Society-Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS). The results were promising: Participants who received FMT from healthy donors showed a statistically significant improvement in their motor scores compared to those who received their own stool as a placebo. Interestingly, the placebo could have still been impactful as autologous FMT has been shown to have benefit in previous work related to C.diff and recovery from antibiotics so their control may be under-representing FMT’s impact on Parkinson’s. This study overall not only underscores the potential of microbiome interventions but also marks a significant step forward in the practical application of this research in neurological diseases.

Wrapping It Up!
As we navigate through these fascinating advancements—from eye-opening documentaries to groundbreaking clinical trials—it is obvious that we are on the brink of revolutionizing how we approach health through the lens of the microbiome. This journey we have embarked on together is just getting started, and I am thrilled to be a guide on this adventure. Each conference, podcast, and paper not only adds to our understanding but also brings new possibilities for transforming health care. Stay tuned, as I continue to share all the excitement and meet incredible people who are trying to change the world one postbiotic, probiotic, prebiotic, or paradigm shift at a time. Let us keep exploring, learning, and pushing the boundaries of what we know about the incredible world within us.


  1. Bruggeman, A., Vandendriessche, C., Hamerlinck, H., De Looze, D., Tate, D. J., Vuylsteke, M., De Commer, L., Devolder, L., Raes, J., Verhasselt, B., Laukens, D., Vandenbroucke, R. E., & Santens, P. (2024). Safety and efficacy of faecal microbiota transplantation in patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease (GUT-PARFECT): a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised, phase 2 trial. EClinicalMedicine, 71, 102563. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2024.102563 
  2. Kelly, C. R., Khoruts, A., Staley, C., Sadowsky, M. J., Abd, M., Alani, M., Bakow, B., Curran, P., McKenney, J., Tisch, A., Reinert, S. E., Machan, J. T., & Brandt, L. J. (2016). Effect of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation on Recurrence in Multiply Recurrent Clostridium difficile Infection: A Randomized Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 165(9), 609–616. https://doi.org/10.7326/M16-0271
  3. Suez, J., Zmora, N., Zilberman-Schapira, G., Mor, U., Dori-Bachash, M., Bashiardes, S., Zur, M., Regev-Lehavi, D., Ben-Zeev Brik, R., Federici, S., Horn, M., Cohen, Y., Moor, A. E., Zeevi, D., Korem, T., Kotler, E., Harmelin, A., Itzkovitz, S., Maharshak, N., … Elinav, E. (2018). Post-Antibiotic Gut Mucosal Microbiome Reconstitution Is Impaired by Probiotics and Improved by Autologous FMT. Cell, 174(6), 1406–1423.e16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.08.047