Some Gut Microbes Can Reduce the Risk for Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Obesity

Plant based diet has always been believed to ensure the health of stomach. In a new research from Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), researchers in a large-scale international study found that the plant-based diet is linked to improved gut microbiota – healthy microorganisms required in stomach, and hence reduces the risk of co-morbid conditions, such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Results of the study were published in the Nature Medicine.

Source: United European Gastroenterology

The PREDICT 1 (Personalized Responses to Dietary Composition Trial 1) metagenomic Harvard study analyzed and elucidated the detailed data collected on the composition of micro-organism of participants, their dietary habits, and their cardiometabolic blood biomarkers.

In the study, investigators determined a strong association between microbiome in stomach with specific foods and diets and found that its composition is also associated with levels of metabolic biomarkers of disease.

This study therefore clearly demonstrates a significant association between specific microbial species in the gut, certain healthy foods, and risk of some common diseases.

According to Andrew Chan, a gastroenterologist, chief of the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit at MGH, and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, it is hoped that this finding will allow the scientists cater necessary information that would help people to avoid serious health problems by changing their diet to personalize their gut microbiome.

“Studying the interrelationship between the microbiome, diet and disease involves a lot of variables because people’s diets tend to be personalized and may change quite a bit over time,” explains Chan.

In the study, researchers collected the microbiome sequence data, detailed long-term dietary information, and results of hundreds of cardio-metabolic blood markers from just over 1,100 participants in the U.K. and the U.S. it was found that the participants who had healthy diet, including plant-based foods were more likely to have high levels of specific gut microbes.

It was determined that the specific makeup or composition of participants’ gut microbiomes was presumed to strongly associated with overall diet composition, including, specific nutrients, foods, food groups, and general dietary indices. Researchers also discovered that the robust microbiome-based biomarkers of obesity and markers for cardiovascular disease and impaired glucose tolerance are also linked with poor dietary choices.

“We were surprised to see such large, clear groups of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ microbes emerging from our analysis,” says Nicola Segata, professor and principal investigator of the Computational Metagenomics Lab at the University of Trento, Italy, and coordinator of the analysis of the microbiome data in the study.

He continued to share his views on wanting data to address these speculations, “and it is intriguing to see that microbiologists know so little about many of these microbes that they are not even named yet.”

Curtis Huttenhower, a co–senior author who co-directs the Harvard T.H. Chan Microbiome in Public Health Center, adds: “Both diet and the gut microbiome are highly personalized. PREDICT is one of the first studies to begin unraveling this complex molecular web at scale.”

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