30 Jul 2019

A new clinical trial provides further confirmation of our microbiome's individual response to nutrients in food

Researchers from the University of Minnesota have confirmed that an individuals response to food is highly personalised, and that similar foods have different effects on different people's microbiomes.

The research sampled 34 people, with 24 hour food records collected over a period of 17 days. From this study they concluded that daily microbial responses to diet were highly personalised, and that a dietary diversity could be associated with microbiome stability rather than eating a monotonous diet.

The research echoes many other studies that are pointing to the same conclusion, that one-size-fits-all diet advice may not be fit for purpose as we all react differently to foods we consume.

"Nutrition labels are human-centric," says senior author Dan Knights, of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the BioTechnology Institute at the University of Minnesota. "They don't provide much information about how the microbiome is going to change from day to day or person to person."

"We expected that by doing this dense sampling—where you could see what people were eating every single day and what's happening to their microbiome—we would be able to correlate dietary nutrients with specific strains of microbes, as well as account for the differences in microbiomes between people," Knights says. "But what we found were not the strong associations we expected. We had to scratch our heads and come up with a new approach for measuring and comparing the different foods."

"The microbiome has been linked to a broad range of human conditions, including metabolic disorders, autoimmune diseases, and infections, so there is strong motivation to manipulate the microbiome with diet as a way to influence health," Knights concludes. "This study suggests that it's more complicated than just looking at dietary components like fiber and sugar. Much more research is needed before we can understand how the full range of nutrients in food affects how the microbiome responds to what we eat."

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