Anything that is this new has many possibilities the science is just starting, but there is clearly something very important here. The Human Microbiome Project is a NIH initiative with the goal of identifying and characterizing the microorganisms which are found in association with both healthy and diseased humans. They intend to test how changes in the human microbiome are associated with human health or disease.
A new study published in Nature this week showed that adaptation to the gut microbiome can change in a day. This is important because dietary changes can have a huge immediate effect on disease. The researchers showed how immediate changes occur, depending upon subjects eating a plant based or animal based diet. They fed the volunteers either plant (grains, legumes, fruits and vegies) or animal (meats, cheese, eggs) diets for 5 consecutive days. They tracked food in the digestive tract, how the subjects felt and bowel movements.
The researchers analyzed 16S ribosomal RNAs to identify microbiome components in fecal samples, which were collected for several days before the dietary changes and each day during the study.
The animal-based diet clearly had a greater effect on the microbiome than the plant-based diet. Even after 1 day, the microbiome of those eating the animal-based diet differed significantly from baseline analyses.
The researchers found fecal bile acid changes in the animal based diet that are associated with liver cancer and Irritable bowel disease. These bile acids change the bile tolerant bacterium that is associated with IBD.