Low-fiber Diet: Can it hamper the diversity of Gut Microflora over generations?

low fiber diet
May 21, 2019 0 Comments

In this article know how low fiber diet affects the diversity of gut microflora? Every time you consume foods which are rich in dietary fiber such as whole grains, fresh fruit, and vegetables, you not only take a step towards your own health care but you also provide nourishment to the millions of tiny microbial tenants that are residing in your gut and are actively working for your health upgradation. A new study has indicated that what you eat does not only affect your health and your gut microbiota composition but also has an influence on your children, grandchildren, and even further generations.

Research undergone by microbiologists of Stanford University, published in Nature , shows the results that not only your genes but your whole gut microbial ecosystem which has been conditioned in accordance to your eating habits are passed on to your offspring. Hence, if the fiber content consumed as food is increased so is the ecosystem of the gut microflora.

Justin and Erica Sonnenburg at Stanford University along with his team conducted a study on mice. They aimed at stimulating the influence of a low-fiber diet on the intestinal microflora of mice. For this, they transferred the microflora from a 36-year-old American donor to a group of sterile mice.

Then the mice were divided into 2 groups i.e., one was fed a diet rich in fiber and vice versa. The rodents were kept under observation for 7 weeks and it was found that though the initial microflora of the mice from both the groups was the same after a few weeks a depletion in the diversity of the gut microflora was seen in the group of mice which were fed low fiber diets. So much so that their bacterial diversity had gone done by 60% in comparison with that of the control diet group.

When the diet pattern of the microbiota-reduced mice and reinstated with a high-fiber diet to figure if the rodents would recover their microbial diversity. This was somewhat achieved on the reintroduction of fiber-rich diet, although around 33% of the entire species still remained low or undetected.

So now will the offspring of the mice also show the same composition? To find answers to this, four generations of both the groups of mice were bred. It was seen that there was low microbial diversity in the pups of the mice which were on a low fiber diet. In fact, the fourth generation had microbial activity reduced by 70%. On being switched to a high fiber diet the microflora of the pups did witness of a small amount of recovery, though it always remained 67%less than the pups which were always fed a high-fiber diet.

Recent studies have shown the relations between higher dietary fiber consumption and lowered cardiovascular disease and also reduced obesity. Although humans are unable to break down the complex dietary carbohydrates present in fruit and vegetables and hence cannot obtain energy from them, hence the gut microbiota comes into the picture in that case.

The results of this study highlight that once the key bacteria have depleted from an entire population by not eating right nothing may be enough ahead to restore these lost species of bacteria to the guts of the entire population.

But not forgetting that this study has been carried out in the gut of mice and thus special care must be exercised before experimenting it in humans. The authors, in their article, reveal that the next henceforth studies will be conducted to test if these results are applicable to humans as well.

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