How food affects bacteria in the gut

How food affects bacteria in the gut

A plant-based diet can nourish key gut microorganisms. A large-scale study finds that these gut bacteria are associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

A diet rich in healthy and plant-based foods has been shown to increase certain gut microbes, which are also associated with a lower risk of developing many chronic diseases. Andrew T. Chan’s team at Massachusetts General Hospital came to these conclusions.

“This study demonstrates a clear link between specific types of microorganisms in the gut, certain foods and the risk of some common diseases,” says Chan. The researchers found strong evidence that the microbiome is linked to specific foods and diets, and that, in turn, its composition is also linked to levels of metabolic biomarkers of disease. In addition, the microbiome is more closely linked to these markers than to other factors, such as genetics.

“When you eat, you’re not just feeding your body, you’re feeding the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut,” the expert notes. The researchers found that participants who followed a diet rich in healthy plant foods were more likely to have high levels of healthier gut bacteria.

The report is published in the journal Nature Medicine.