Dietary fibre intake and gut bacteria

18 May 2016

by Genelle Healey

More than 100 trillion micro-organisms, including bacteria, live in our gastrointestinal tract, or gut. These bacteria have been shown to have an impact on human health, with unfavourable gut bacteria linked to disease states (such as obesity and diabetes) and gastrointestinal disorders (such as inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome). Our diets, particularly our consumption of dietary fibre, are influential in shaping the makeup of our gut bacteria. Diet-specific strategies may therefore play a role in optimising human health by positively influencing our gut bacteria.

Research suggests that the gut bacteria can have variable responses to dietary interventions, including prebiotics (dietary fibres which promote the growth of beneficial bacteria). It has been suggested that an individual’s baseline gut bacteria may influence how they respond to a particular dietary intervention and individuals with differing dietary intakes appear to have distinct baseline gut bacteria compositions. The responsiveness of the gut bacteria, to a particular dietary intervention, may therefore be influenced by a person’s normal dietary intake.

While evidence suggests this, it’s yet to be definitively measured and proven.

That’s the aim of my PhD research, to determine what influence differing dietary fibre intakes have on how the gut bacteria respond to a prebiotic. We are presently recruiting individuals with high or low dietary fibre intakes to take part in our study. Foods rich in dietary fibre include fruits, vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds.

If you would like to learn more about the study please visit: www.massey.ac.nz/adaptstudy

Contact:
Mike Shaw
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Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
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Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
EMail: media@plantandfood.co.nz
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