Scientists know that the trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that exist in our intestines play an important role in health, affecting our risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many other diseases. However, today, a large-scale international study has found that the composition of these microorganisms (commonly referred to as our microbiota) largely depends on our diet.
By analyzing the diet, health and microbial community of more than one thousand people, the researchers found that a nutrient-dense whole food diet can promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms, thereby promoting physical health. However, adding sugar, salt and other additives to a diet rich in highly processed foods has the opposite effect and promotes the development of intestinal microbes, which are related to the deterioration of cardiovascular and metabolic health.
A key factor is whether people eat highly processed foods. People who tend to eat less processed foods such as vegetables, nuts, eggs, and seafood are more likely to harbor beneficial gut bacteria. On the other hand, eating large amounts of fruit juice, sweetened beverages, white bread, refined grains, and processed meat are related to microorganisms related to poor metabolic health.
Dr Sarah E. Berry, a nutritionist at King’s College in London and a co-author of the new study, said: “This goes back to the ancient message of eating as much whole food as possible. And unprocessed food. Monday in Natural Medicine. “This study shows for the first time the link between the quality of the food we eat, the quality of the microbial community, and the final health outcome. “
This discovery could one day help doctors and nutritionists prevent or even treat certain diet-related diseases, allowing them to prescribe personalized diets based on the unique composition of the microbiota and other factors.
Many studies have shown that there is no one-size-fits-all diet for everyone. For example, this new study found that although certain foods are generally healthier than others, different people may have completely different metabolic responses to the same food, partly due to the presence of microbes in the intestinal tract.
“Our study found that the same diet of two different individuals does not cause the same microbiome, nor does it cause the same metabolic response,” said Dr. Andrew T. Chan, the co-author of the paper. Professor of Medical Research at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. “dramatic change.”
The new discovery comes from an international personalized nutrition research called Predict, which is the world’s largest research project aimed at studying the individual’s response to food. The study was started by British epidemiologist Tim Spector in 2018 and tracked more than 1,100 healthy adults in the United States and the United Kingdom, including hundreds of identical twins and fraternal twins. twin.
Researchers collected data on various factors that affect metabolism and disease risk. They analyzed the participants’ diet, microbes and body fat. They take blood samples before and after meals to check their blood sugar, hormones, cholesterol and inflammation levels. They monitor their sleep and physical activity. For two weeks, they asked them to wear a continuous blood glucose monitor to track their blood glucose response to different diets.
The researchers were surprised to find that genetics only played a minor role in shaping the human microbiome. It was found that identical twins accounted for only 34% of the same gut microbes, while unrelated people accounted for about 30% of the same microbes. Instead, the composition of each person’s microbiome seems to be more driven by their diet, and the type of microbe in the gut plays an important role in their metabolic health.
Researchers have discovered the so-called good intestinal insects, which eat high-fiber plants (such as spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, nuts, and seeds) and the least processed animal foods (such as fish and whole Fat yogurt. They also found a group of “bad” intestinal worms, which are common among people who regularly eat highly processed foods. Researchers say that in highly processed foods, one thing in common is that they tend to only Contains very little fiber, and fiber is a rich nutrient that helps to nourish the good microorganisms in the intestinal tract.
Among the “good” strains of gut microbes are Prevotella and Bacillus embryos. They are all related to lower visceral fat content, which accumulates around internal organs, increasing the risk of heart disease. These microorganisms also seem to improve blood sugar control, which is an indicator of diabetes risk. Other beneficial microorganisms are related to reduced inflammation after meals and reduced peak blood lipids and cholesterol levels, all of which contribute to cardiovascular health.
This new research was funded and supported by the health science company Zoe Global, the British non-profit organization Wellcome Trust and several public health organizations.
Dr. Berry said that the results of the study show that by looking at the microbiome profile, they can identify high-risk populations of metabolic diseases and intervene as soon as possible. She and her colleagues are now planning a clinical trial to test whether telling people to change certain foods in their diet can change the levels of good and bad microbes in the gut, thereby improving health.
She said: “We think that people can make many small changes, and these changes may have a big impact on their health, which may be mediated through the microbiome.”