Foods that look the same on nutrition labels can have vastly different effects on our microbiomes, report researchers in a paper publishing June 12 in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.
The researchers’ observations of participants’ diets and stool samples over the course of 17 days suggested that the correlation between what we eat and what’s happening with our gut microbes might not be as straightforward as we thought.
This adds an increased level of complexity to research focused on improving health by manipulating the microbiome. In the study, the investigators enrolled 34 participants to record everything they ate for 17 days.
Stool samples were collected daily, and shotgun metagenomic sequencing was performed. This allowed the researchers to see at very high resolution how different people’s microbiomes, as well as the enzymes and metabolic functions that they influence, were changing from day to day in response to what they ate. It provided a resource for analyzing the relationships between dietary changes and how the microbiome changes over time.
“The microbiome has been linked to a broad range of human conditions, including metabolic disorders, autoimmune diseases, and infections, so there is strong motivation to manipulate the microbiome with diet as a way to influence health,” Knights concludes. “This study suggests that it’s more complicated than just looking at dietary components like fiber and sugar. Much more research is needed before we can understand how the full range of nutrients in food affects how the microbiome responds to what we eat”, said the authors.
More information: Eurek Alert