Effects of diets and dietary constituents on gut microbiota
- Research on the importance of the gut microbiota in human health has seen enormous breakthroughs in recent years. Yet the microbes present in and on ingested foods have been largely ignored. We estimated the amount and type of microbes in a day’s worth of meals across three typical dietary patterns. We showed that certain food microbes were correlated with the estimated nutritional content of meals. For example, several bacterial families were positively correlated with cholesterol content. When we predicted the metagenomes we found that certain functional categories were enriched in certain meals. For example, genes involved in glycan degradation were enriched in the vegan dietary pattern.
- Our findings demonstrate that both the amount and type of microbes in and on foods we eat are likely to be highly variable across the population. Our findings raise important questions about the potential impact of food microbes on the gut microbiota and, in turn, aspects of human health associated with the gut microbiota.
- We have characterized the effects of milk oligosaccharide composition on changes in the gut microbiota and microbial metagenomes, and how these are related to growth and morbidity outcomes in infants over the first 5 months of life. We are also investigating the relationships between milk lipid composition and infant growth.