The Commerce Journal

Community News Network

December 11, 2013

Harvard study finds diet changes gut bacteria within a day

WASHINGTON — A change in diet quickly alters the types of bacteria living in the human gut, a finding that suggests this rapid adaptability to different foods can be used to control illnesses tied to stomach microbes, researchers said.

Switching to an animal-based diet increased the number of microorganisms that process protein, while a plant-based diet increased the number of bacteria that help process starch and cellulose, according to a study led by Harvard University researchers published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The change in the bacteria populations occurred within a day.

Trillions of microorganisms live in the human gut, helping to digest food, fight disease-causing germs and process nutrients. Research has suggested that diets high in fat and sugar may change the human gut's bugs, perhaps contributing to chronic illness, the study authors wrote. Previous work in mice suggested that the microbiome could change within a day, though until now, the effect hadn't been replicated in humans.

"It's exciting and gratifying to find out this holds up in people," said Lawrence David, who was one of the Harvard researchers and is now an assistant professor at Duke University's Molecular Genetics & Microbiology and Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy. "We're getting an increasing appreciation of how flexible and responsive the microbiome is, even on a very short time scale."

Humans are home to more than 10,000 species of microbes, mostly bacteria that live in healthy symbiosis, according to the Human Microbiome Project. The trillions of microorganisms that live in and on the body outnumber human cells by 10 to 1, according to research published in 2012 in Nature and the Public Library of Science journals.

Scientists are just beginning to explore the composition of these ecosystems, said David. Knowing how these organisms interact with their host can reveal more about illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.

The 11 people studied were allowed to eat as they normally did for four days, writing down what they ate and submitting fecal samples to the researchers. Then they consumed what was provided to them by researchers for four days, and were watched for six days afterward. That meant that each person essentially served as their own control group, David said.

The plant-based diet, which boosted fiber intake significantly and dropped fat and protein intakes, led to very few changes in the existing microbes. The animal-based diet had almost no fiber intake had a "really big shift," David said.

The animal-based diet caused changes in the population, including an increase in the anaerobic bacteria Bilophila wadsworthia, which is known to cause colitis in mice. The bacteria seem to thrive with the increased intake of fat, David said. Some bacteria also changed their gene expression with the diet, the study found.

"Perhaps in prehistoric groups, when there was a lot more volatility in terms of what you can forage or hunt for, this could have been very useful," David said. "It creates a way of buffering nutritional changes and may have enabled ancient humans to be a little more flexible with their diet."

Further research may focus on how food preparation affects the bacterial colonization, David said.

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 17, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • web_starbucks-cof_big_ce.jpg Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

    This week Starbucks opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads

Poll

How many games do you think the Lions will win in 2014?

7-9 wins
4-6 wins
1-3 wins
     View Results
Must Read
Facebook
AP Video
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide