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Tailoring weight reduction diets based on the gut flora

Posted:  Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fad diets may not lead to weight loss, but a diet based on gut flora? May be! Clinical Researchers have now formulated a mathematical calculation that helps to predict an individual’s response to a modified diet, based on their gut microbiome composition.

Published in Cell Metabolism, this study characterized the gut microbiome in a group of overweight patients who were then asked to follow a tailored-weight loss diet. The patients not only showed the expected weight loss but those with low-diversity gut microbiome also showed reduced blood and faecal content of certain substances that correlate with health risks such as type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and obesity. The health condition of patients with higher gut diversity did not improve as much as the other group.

Micro-organisms participate in metabolism in different ways and human gut microbial composition varies greatly among individuals. The computational algorithm calculated micronutrient content in various foods, and also calculated how diet affects the metabolism in the human gut microbiome. It was found that patients with low gene counts (LGC), having a compressed gut microbiota, respond better to dietary intervention than patients with a high gene count (HGC), due to variation in the metabolism of the gut microbiota in the two groups.

Research has shown a link between gut microbial composition and certain diseases. However the mechanism of interaction of micro-organisms with food, individuals and the inter-relation is not yet completely understood. One finding of the study is that intestine of individuals with low-diversity gut microbiome produce fewer amino acids when on the intervention diet and this could explain the improved blood chemistry.

Jens Nielsen, professor of systems biology at Chalmers and head of the research team, said, "This method allows us to begin identifying each individual bacteria type's metabolism and thus get a handle on the basic mechanisms in human metabolism."

Thus identification of gut microbiome composition can soon enable physicians to tailor diets to achieve weight loss and associated health benefits. The researchers also hope that in the long run, they will be able add intestinal bacterial in patients with metabolic dysfunction. The next generation of probiotics will be designed to integrate with the existing gut microbiota and permanently change for the better.

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