Links Between Diet, Illnesses and Gut Microbes

Research has shown that diets which are rich in plant based and healthy foods encourage gut microbes which are associated with a lower risk of a variety of common illnesses and also heart disease. Now a new study conducted by researchers at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, King’s College London, the University of Trento, Italy, Massachusetts General Hospital and start-up company ZOE has revealed the link between diet, illnesses and gut microbes.

The study using blood chemical profiling and metagenomics revealed a panel of 15 different gut microbes that are linked to reduced risks of type 2 diabetes, obesity and a variety of common illnesses.

The Personalized Responses to Dietary Composition Trial 1 (PREDICT 1) was used to analyze very detailed data in regards to the gut microbiomes of the participants in addition to their cardiometabolic blood biomarkers, and their eating habits. The data indicated strong associations between the participant’s diet, their microbiome and their health.

The team was able to identify microbes that negatively or positively correspond to bad and good to a person’s risk of particular illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Interestingly, the microbiome show a greater link to these particular markers instead of other factors one of which is genetics. Some of the microbes were shown to be novel and haven’t even been named yet.

The healthy type diet was defined as a diet which would contain a variety of foods that are associated with a reduced risk of diseases that are considered chronic. The team discovered that trial participants who consumed this type of diet or one that is plant rich, had a higher likelihood of having levels that are high in specific gut microbes that are good and linked to a lower risk of some of the common health condition. They also found biomarkers that are microbiome based for obesity in addition to markers for impaired tolerance of glucose and cardiovascular disease which are also factors for COVID risk. Their findings could be utilized for help in creating personalized diet plans that are designed for the specific goal of improving a person’s health.

The team’s research may help in modifying personalized composition of each person’s individual microbiome in an effort to optimize their health through selecting the foods that are best suited for each person’s unique and individual biology.

As an example, the team’s discoveries have revealed that a person having a microbiome that is rich in Blastocysitis species and Prevotella copri was linked to a person being able to maintain a blood level that is favorable following a meal. Some of the other species were associated to reduced post-meal blood fat levels and inflammation markers.

As noted by the team, when we are eating we’re not only nourishing our body, but also feeding trillions of the microbes that reside in our gut.

The team was surprised to see such clear and large groups of what is informally called bad and good microbes that emerged from their analysis. And they were additionally excited about the discovery that very little is known to microbiologists about the microbes that haven’t been named. This has become a large area of research that could open future new insights into how the gut microbiome could be used as a target that is modifiable in improving human health and metabolism.

To view the original scientific study click below

Microbiome connections with host metabolism and habitual diet from 1,098 deeply phenotyped individuals.