Diet may affect gut bacteria more than genes
Diiet may have a stronger influence on gut bacteria than genetics, according to a new animal study.
Previous research has shown that the mix of gut microbes varies among individuals and changes over time, for which exact reasons are unknown. The new study examined whether such variations in gut bacteria are mostly due to nature (genes) or nurture (in this case, diet).
Scientists from the University of California San Francisco studied hundreds of mice with a wide range of genetic backgrounds. The researchers alternated feeding the mice one of two diets--one a high-fat, high-sugar diet, and the other a low-fat, plant-based diet.
The researchers found that when they switched the mice to the high-fat, high-sugar diet for three days, specific types of gut bacteria became more common, regardless of their genetic makeup. Changing the mice's diet was found to have a stronger influence on the mix of gut microbes than did their genetic variation, researchers said.
It was unclear whether changes in gut bacteria were directly caused by dietary changes or whether changes in the gut could have been indirectly caused by effects of diet on the overall body. However, the study's findings, published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, do suggest that diet plays a role in influencing gut bacteria, which many recent studies have found to play an important role in our overall health.