The community of microbes that live in your stomach, otherwise called a microbiome, plays a big role in how you digest food. That’s why some people eat probiotic yogurt or take supplements.
And now, researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have come up with a mathematical formula to find the right diet for each individual’s microbiome that will help them lose weight and prevent certain diseases.
Humans need bacteria to live, and we have a lot floating around our bodies — anywhere from 2 t0 6 pounds. And most of it isn’t the kind that will make you sick, but rather the kind that helps your body run.
For the study, the researchers looked at 45 moderately overweight or obese people. Of those, 18 had a “low gene count” (meaning their gut was not as rich in bacteria) and 27 had a “high gene count” (meaning they had a greater mix of microbes).
All of the participants were instructed to eat fewer carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, rice, and sweet foods, and increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they consumed. By the end of six weeks, all of the participants had lost weight.
For those with a less diverse microbiome, the diet had a positive impact on their metabolic health — meaning a lowered their risk for type 2 diabetes and other diseases related to how the body processes food. A lack of gut microbiome diversity has been linked to type 2 diabetes, and increasing this diversity can help keep diseases like diabetes and heart disease away.
But for those who already had a diverse microbiome, their health stayed about the same.
The bacteria in your gut can alter how essential amino acids, which make up proteins like those in meat and beans, get absorbed into the body. The more amino acids we absorb, the easier it is for our muscles and tissues to put them to good use to keep our bodies running smoothly.
The researcher’s formula to determine the right diet based on an individual’s microbiome might be good news for people at risk for diseases associated with being overweight or obese.
Here’s a chart of how the high-protein diets played out on a nutritional level.
A sample of your microbial makeup from faecal material, the mouth, or even your forehead can be genetically tested to figure out which bacteria are in your gut microbiome, and whether it’s diverse or not.
So if your body isn’t full of diverse bacteria, the researchers suggest eating a diet full of dairy, vegetables, meat like chicken and fish, eggs, and oils, because it will diversify your gut microbiome, which could improve your health.
And if your body is already full of diverse bacteria, you can make other diet modifications to improve your health, which the researchers think they can pinpoint using their mathematical formula.
The results were published last month in the journal Cell Metabolism.