London: Biologists at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have for the first time identified in detail how some of our most common intestinal bacteria interact during metabolism.
New research enables “tailored” diet advice – based on our personal gut microbiome – for people who want to lose weight and reduce the disease risk.
The researchers developed a mathematical calculation platform that makes it possible to predict how different patients will respond to a modified diet, depending on how their gut microbiome is composed.
“This allows us to begin identifying each individual bacteria type’s metabolism and thus get a handle on the basic mechanisms in human metabolism,” said Jens Nielsen, professor of systems biology at Chalmers in a statement.
There can be up to 1,000 different types of bacteria and other microorganisms in the human digestive system, many of which take part in metabolism in one way or another.
“This is clear as regards to Type 2 diabetes, hardening of the arteries and obesity, for example. There are also indications that the same might apply to depression and the body’s ability to respond to various cancer treatments,” Nielsen explained.
The research will make it easier for physicians to identify overweight patients who are at higher risk of cardiometabolic disease and could truly achieve major health benefits by modifying their diet and losing weight.
“In the long term we might be able to add intestinal bacteria for patients whose metabolism does not function properly,” she explained.
What are known as probiotics are already being used – various yoghurt cultures are one example – but the task of these bacteria is primarily to stabilise the intestines and create a favourable environment.
“The next generation of probiotics will pertain more to adding bacteria that integrate directly with the existing gut microbiome and make a lasting change to the composition,” Nielsen noted.