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Different diets affect gut bacteria

By Tim Sandle     Dec 16, 2013 in Health
Different diets can alter the microbial makeup of the human gastro-intestinal tract, and change the behavior of those bacteria. Researchers have examined the differences between a largely meat and vegan diet.
For the study, ten volunteers agreed to eat a diet entirely provided by microbiologist Harvard Peter Turnbaugh and his colleagues. In one group, five volunteers a high-protein diet, with meals of bacon and eggs for breakfast, spareribs and brisket for lunch, and salami and cheese for dinner. This group could also snack on pork rinds and string cheese. The second group eat fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans. Before, during, and after the diet change, the team collected stool samples from each participant to assess the bacterial composition of their guts.
According to Science Now, the results showed that after five days, those that ate only animal products had a similar types of bacteria in their guts, which varied dramatically from the microbiome of those feasting on a high-fiber, plant-only diet. While the types of bacteria present remained largely unchanged, the abundances of different types responded to the dietary restrictions.
The meat-eaters harbored more bacteria that are able to tolerate high levels of bile acids, which are secreted by the body to help digest meat. Whereas the 'vegan' diet group showed that the participants had fewer bile-resisting bacteria and higher expression levels of gene associated with carbohydrate digestion.
According to NPR the results will be studied carefully by scientists to see if there are any health implications that arise as a result of the findings.
The findings of the study have been published in the journal Nature. The paper is titled "Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome."
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