Dietary interventions are often used to enhance metabolism in humans; however they also affect the gut bacteria. Previous researches at the Sahlgrenska Academy have demonstrated that these beneficial bacteria are altered in metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes, and may also contribute to obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

A new study now shows that people who have better control over their blood sugar by eating barley kernel bread also have a modified balance of gut microbes.

Barley Kernel Bread And Gut Bacteria

The study enrolled 39 subjects who were given barley kernel bread for three days, which was followed by normal (control) bread made using white flour for three days. There was a break between the two diets. It was observed that consuming barley kernel bread improved control over blood sugar levels, but only in certain individuals.

Further analysis showed that higher proportions of Prevotella (group of bacteria previously shown to be associated with high fiber intake) were present in the individuals who demonstrated beneficial responses to barley kernel bread, as compared to those who didn’t.

The researchers further transferred the gut bacteria of these individuals to germ-free mice, and confirmed their findings by demonstrating that the altered microbes due to barley kernel bread conferred beneficial effects on health.

Gut Bacteria: The Importance Of Bread And Varied Diets

“Our findings clearly demonstrate the importance of interactions between gut bacteria and diet, which contribute to the understanding of metabolism in health and disease. These results might help explain why responses to various dietary treatments differ from individual to individual”, explained Professor Fredrik Bäckhed at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

Breads with different fiber content have gained considerable attention at the Antidiabetic Food Center at Lund University (a VINN Excellence Center) that participated in the study.

“It is extremely exciting to see the association between gut bacteria and different dietary fibers. This can help in developing more individualized dietary guidelines”, stated Professor Inger Björk at Lund University.

Future Prospects

The researchers now intend to perform further analysis to confirm whether gut bacteria can be used to identify which people will respond to which specific diet.

“Our results also show that blood sugar regulation is enhanced in mice supplemented with Prevotella, in cases where they are also given a high-fiber diet. These findings could lead to the development of a combination product featuring Prevotella and fiber from various grains”, suggested Fredrik Bäckhed at the Sahlgrenska Academy. The study was published in Cell Metabolism.

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