Human Health & Nutrition

Studying the bacterial composition of the digestive system

Average bacterial composition of faecal samples-bar chart

Atkins-type diets have been demonstrated to result in body weight loss. To investigate concerns about the impacts of such diets on other aspects of health, we have been involved in experiments on the effect of the low carbohydrate (CHO) content on microbial populations in the gut. The results show that the compositions of bacteria and their metabolic products have changed substantially. In particular, the butyrate producing bacterial group Roseburia rectale is reduced by a factor of three. We have begun developing mathematical models to further investigate the interactions between diet, bacteria, and their metabolic products such as butyrate which are thought to play a role in the prevention of colon cancer.

Average bacterial composition of faecal samples from 7 subjects. bac = Bacteroides fpr = Faecalibacterium prausnitzii rum = Ruminococcus bif = Bifidobacteria prop = Clostridial cluster IX rrec = Roseburia rectale erec - rrec = Clostridial clusters XIVa and XIVb excluding Roseburia rectale

Further details from: Grietje Holtrop

Article date 2007

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