An interesting opportunity arising around the gut microbiome is personalized nutrition. More and more research is being conducted on the microbiome and its interplay with nutrition, diets and disease. Globally there is a high prevalence of obesity, type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. There are many guidelines and advices published to try to decrease the prevalence of these diseases. However, to date they have not been efficiently controlled suggesting the one-size-fits-all dietary advices might not be sufficient.
Personalization may be based on biological evidence of differential responses to food or nutrients dependent on ones genetics or characteristics. An important aspect of this is that the inter-individual variabilities in dietary responses of individuals appear to lead back to their microbiota. Different diets modify the microbiota differently as shown for subjects with a long-term high protein and fat consumption compared to subjects with a high long-term carbohydrate consumption.
Personally tailored dietary interventions aimed at altering the microbiota to a more beneficial composition, subsequently inducing a health benefit, may hold promise. For example, a recent study showed that people who had a high ratio of specific bacteria (Prevotella-to-Bacteroides ratio) in their gut, lost more weight after a 6-month high fiber diet compared to people with a low ratio of these specific bacteria. This suggests that the type of bacteria present in the gut predicts how well a person responds to a certain diet. Another study measured week-long glucose levels in an 800-person cohort and found high variability in the response to identical meals. Subsequently, the postprandial glycemic response was predicted using clinical and microbiome features and applied to develop individualized diets for normalization of glycemic response. The study showed that these personalized dietary interventions induced lower postprandial glycemic responses and consistent gut microbiota alteration.
Our diet can influence the microbiota in our gut both positively as well as negatively and this interaction can be different between people. By studying our gut microbiota we can define what sort of diet works best in which people and we might be able to decrease the prevalence of obesity, type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease more efficiently.
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