New research suggests certain foods could be linked with a healthy gut microbiome, providing support for the idea that the diet represents a therapeutic strategy for intestinal diseases.
For the study, researchers from the Netherlands investigated the effect of 160 dietary factors on the gut microbiome across four cohorts, comprising the general population and patients with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. A stool sample and Food Frequency Questionnaire were collected for each participant.
The study identified 61 individual food items associated with microbial populations and 49 correlations between food patterns and microbial groups.
It found a plant-based diet was associated with increased abundances of short chain fatty acid (SCFA)-producing bacteria and with pathways involved in the biosynthesis of vitamins and amino acids. Red wine, legumes, vegetables, fruit, cereals, fish and nuts were associated with a higher abundance of bacteria with anti-inflammatory functions. Meanwhile, a higher intake of meat, fast foods or refined sugar was associated with a decrease in beneficial bacterial functions and an increase in inflammatory markers.
Lead researcher Laura Bolte said the results indicate that diet is likely to become a significant and serious line of treatment or disease management for diseases of the gut.