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Gut Bacteria Found to Influence Risk of Disease

Ever heard the saying "you are what you eat?" The digestive system contains trillions of living bacteria and these microorganisms have been found to influence health in a variety of ways. Recent studies show gut bacteria actually changes rapidly with dietary changes, which can potentially have a profound influence on your health.

Researchers studied a group of 10 people ages 21-33 to see how diet changes affect the bacteria in the digestive system. The study included plant-based diet changes and animal-based diet changes and yielded rapid, uniform changes in gut bacteria in each of the participants – one of which was a lifelong vegetarian who changed his diet to eat some animal products for the study (eggs and cheese).

The study showed that there is a link between animal fat ingestion and inflammatory bowel disease risk. Those on the plant-based diet experienced little change in gut bacteria, while those on the animal-based diet experienced an increase in a type of bacteria that grows in response to bile acids – a bacterium currently linked to inflammatory bowel disease in mice.

Other studies have shown that the quality of gut flora is linked to obesity, heart disease, immune health, brain function, and infant colic. Does the key to better health lie within our diet? Although small, this study yielded results that could link diet to disease.

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