Scripties UMCG - Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
English | Nederlands

The therapeutic potential of diet: Elucidating a diet for the gut ecosystem

(2018) Bolte, L. (Laura)

Background: Gut microbiota are essential for intestinal health. As microbes thrive on dietary
substrates, the question arises whether we can nourish a protective gut flora. While there is
increasing interest in anti-inflammatory capacities of isolated nutrients, little is known on the
association between dietary patterns or individual foods and gut microbial features. Here, the
effect of 160 dietary factors on the gut microbiome is investigated across four cohorts, comprising
the general population, patients with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable
bowel syndrome.
Methods: For every participant one stool sample was collected along with a Food Frequency
Questionnaire. To reconstruct the microbiome composition of stool samples, microbial DNA
was isolated and shotgun metagenomic sequencing was performed. Cluster analyses were
performed to identify dietary patterns associated with groups of bacteria. Next, linear models
were conducted between individual foods and microbial species and pathways. Analyses were
performed separately per cohort, followed by a meta-analysis and heterogeneity estimation.
Results: Overall, 61 dietary factors were associated with 123 taxa and 249 pathways. A plantbased,
Mediterranean diet was associated with increased short chain fatty acid (SCFA) producing
bacteria including Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Roseburia hominis, and bacterial
fermentation pathways. Animal protein showed inverse effects.
Conclusion: Specific foods can induce gut bacteria with functions that are known to infer
mucosal protection and anti-inflammatory effects. A decrease in these bacteria has already been
associated with IBS and IBD. Based on the diet-microbiome relations, we can construct more
rational dietary interventions to treat and prevent gastrointestinal disease.

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