Diet and the Microbiome
I found a new article[i] this week, just published, on the influence of diet on the gut microbiome. Pretty interesting stuff: diet can cause temporary shifts within 24 hours of consumption.
The article is too complex to describe in detail so just a few highlights:
- Protein: “…gut bacterial changes may be responsible for the finding in a large participant prospective study that high total protein intake, especially animal protein, is associated with a significantly increased risk of IBD. Furthermore, several microbial genera promoted by intake of red meat have also been associated with…[increased] risk of cardiovascular disease.”
- Fat: “The typical Western diet is both high in saturated and trans fats while low in mono and polyunsaturated fats, therefore predisposing regular consumers to many health problems.”
- Carbohydrates: A few interesting points.
- Lactose (the sugar found in dairy) decreases the Clostridia species associated with irritable bowel syndrome and increased the concentration of anti-inflammatory short chain fatty acids (SCFA). (Elaine Gottschall, the author of Breaking the Vicious Cycle, told me many times that dairy is actually anti-inflammatory and as usual, she was right. This is why, along with the hefty dose of probiotics, SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) yogurt is such an integral part of the diet. While some children on the autism spectrum cannot tolerate dairy for quite some time, after at least 6 months on the diet, there were none in my experience that eventually weren’t able to eat the yogurt.)
- Artificial sweeteners – really bad. They promote glucose intolerance through negative alterations of the gut flora.
- Fiber – really good. Increases microbial richness of anti-inflammatory species and decreases bad bacteria. (I talked about this in this post awhile back.) One group of researchers found that prebiotics “…increased plasma levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10…The beneficial effect of prebiotics on immune and metabolic function in the gut is thought to involve increased production of SCFAs…”
- One final major point: the Mediterranean Diet, with its emphasis on olive oil, fruit, vegetables, cereals, legumes and nuts, some fish and poultry, red wine, and low intake of red meat, processed, meats, and sweets, is likely the healthiest way to eat. It promotes healthy weight, a healthy lipid profile, and low levels of inflammation.
As I was preparing to write this today, I spotted this interesting little piece, “Prune Extract Benefits Gut Microbiome and Reduces Cholesterol”[ii]. As per the above, the gains were maintained only while the participants in the study took the extract:
“The groups who consumed prune extract experienced an increase in the numbers of beneficial gut bacteria and a reduction in the numbers of detrimental bacteria during the four-week experiment period. However, these effects decreased after the participants stopped consuming the prune extract. The groups who consumed prune extract also experienced a significant decrease in blood cholesterol levels relative to the placebo group during the four-week experiment period. However, the effect once again decreased after participants stopped consuming the prune extract. The same effect occurred with free radicals.”
So yeah…eat a healthy diet. 🙂
I leave for Russia on Sunday. Stay tuned for tales of my many adventures!
[i] Singh, RK, Chang, HW, Yan, D, Lee, KM, Ucmak, D, Wong, K, Abrouk, M, Farahnik, B, Nakamura, M, Zhu, TH, Bhutani, T, Liao, W. Influence of diet on the gut microbiome and implications for human health. Journal of Translational Medicine. 2017. 15(73).