Flemish Gut Flora Project
Variety is good for health and red wine could be of great help. In a couple of studies published recently in Science, researchers from Belgium and the Netherlands have presented the most comprehensive work on the human microbiome to date. After studying the poop of thousands of citizen volunteers, they have mapped out the species of bacteria which tend to live within their guts and have connected some of those bacteria to related lifestyle factors.
Some scientists expect to use the microbes which tend to live in our guts in diagnosing and treating the diseases which seem to be related to them. It is not known what the `best’ microbiome is or if there is one normal microbiome and it will take some time longer for the perfect poop transplant therapies.
However, with the data presented in the latest studies scientist have taken a big step in comprehending how the microbiome tend to make big changes in our lives. The first study led by Joroen Raes of the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, focuses on the so-called Flemish Gut Flora Project that collected stool samples from 3,500 volunteers.
Dutch Health Monitoring Program – Lifeline
Raes informed The Post that `itis a lot since Flanders only has a population of about 6 million and none of these people were paid and they had only been interested in the science. So far around 1,100 samples had been analysed and cross-checked their findings with a Dutch health monitoring program known as LifeLines which is the main data source for study No.2, led by the University of Groningen’s Cisca Wijmenga.
Raes doubts that the microbiomes that are heavily influenced by diet could be quite different in countries beyond the Western world but thinks that the results of the two studies would be fairly valid to other populations in Europe and probably also in America. Raes together with his team were capable of using the Dutch data to confirm 92% of the 69 influential factors identified in Belgium that promises well for the accuracy of the testing. He said that `in Belgium they found association with beer and chocolate while in the Dutch population they saw associations with dairy products.
No Diet that Fits All
Both the studies found small dietary changes to big effect. In the study of Wijmenga, though some dairy products like yogurt and buttermilk seemed to increase the diversity of species in the gut, full-fat products seemed to decrease that diversity. Red wine and coffee seemed to increase the biodiversity of the gut also. High calorie, carb-heavy diets tend to have the opposite effect and amazingly babies do not seem to be influenced by breast feeding at least in their gut.
According to the first author of the Science article, Alexandra Zhernakova of the University Medical Centre mentioned in a statement that in total they found 60 dietary factors which influenced the diversity and what it means is hard to say. However there is a good connection between diversity and health and greater diversity seems to be better. It is clear that we do not tend to have any idea on what diet works best for us. Rate of obesity has tripled in every country and there is no diet which tends to fit all.