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Microbiome: Loss Of Gut Diversity Sickens The Stomach

First Posted: Jul 14, 2015 11:17 PM EDT

Could a loss of dietary diversity be what's to blame for a rise in obesity?

Researchers noted how diet regulator of the GI microbiome, otherwise known as the ecosystem of the human GI tract. It alone is home to trillions of bacteria in a solution of unabsorbed macro- and micro-nutrients and remnants from digestion that help create new signaling molecules that make it so microbiota can communicate with each individual's metabolic and GI regulatory system.

Unfortunately, researchers have noted that because of current agricultural practices and even climate change, microbiome needs have contributed to an overall loss of diversity with about 75 percent of the world's population consuming five animals species and just about 12 plants. Furthermore, from those 12, rice, maize and wheat contribute to about 60 percent of all calories.

"Like any ecosystem, the one that is most diverse in species is the one that is going to be the healthiest," study author Mark Heiman, vice president and chief scientific officer at MicroBiome Therapeutics, said in news release. "In almost every disease state that has been studied so far, the microbiome has lost diversity. There are just a few species that seem to dominate."

For this study in particular, researchers found people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes that held different microbiome makeup than those without certain health conditions and gave many NM504, a formation of inulin, beta glucan and antioxidants. A total of 30 individuals were tested, with half of whom also received the formulation twice a day while the remainder received a placebo.

Findings revealed that those who received NM504 noticed a microbiome shift that hurt their health benefits, including improved glucose control, increased satiety and relief from constipation.

Following this, researchers looked at "heirloom" foods--otherwise known as foods that were once popular but are rarely eaten now--and if adding these to diet would hold a particular benefit. They also developed MT303, derived from whole soybean pods, showing that it also shifted the makeup of the microbiome, resulting in positive health benefits on obese mice, as well as protection from colon inflammation and decreased weight gain.

"Think about diets and think about foods you eat," he said. "How can we get more diversity into our diets? And we may think less about fad diets where you eliminate a certain component to your diet."

More information regarding the findings can be seen here

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