Fatty, Sugary Western Diets Give Kids Inferior Gut Microbes

By Andrew Moseman | August 3, 2010 6:39 pm

BacillusThe health detriments of a Western diet—eating foods high in fat, sugar, and animal protein—are now well known. However, according to a group of studies out in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, how you eat when you’re just a kid can have a great impact, influencing the gut microbes you’ll carry your entire life.

Researchers led by Carlotta de Filippo studied the gut microbes of African children raised in Burkina Faso versus those in European children from Italy. According to the team’s findings, the kids’ diet had a dramatic effect on what bacteria they harbored in their guts to help them with digestion. The Burkina Faso children, who grew up eating a lot of fiber, had gut bacteria that help to break down that tough material. Meanwhile the Italian children, who grew up on a Western diet, had guts dominated by a kind of bacteria that’s more common in obese people, and they had less bacterial diversity overall.

Two other PNAS papers this week took on the formation and evolution of a human’s gut microbiome. One showed how a nursing infant gets its first helpful gut microbes from mother’s milk, and the other followed the same baby for two and a half years—collecting “samples” from diapers—to show how its population of gut bacteria changed and developed.

For an in-depth take on these studies and insight on how they fit together, check out Ed Yong’s post at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Related Content:
Not Exactly Rocket Science: You Are What You Eat—How Your Diet Defines You in Trillions of Ways
80beats: Scientists Sequence DNA from the Teeming Microbial Universe in Your Guts
80beats: My Excrement, Myself: The Unique Genetics of a Person’s Gut Viruses

Image: Wikimedia Commons

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • http://Untitledvanityproject.blogspot.com Rhacodactylus

    Holy Crap people! Now were even falling behind in our ability to be a hospitable environment to symbiotic organisms, who knew we’d look back on our failings in math and science as “the good old days.”

  • http://clubneko.net nick

    Damn, I’m boned. Sure, I eat a great diet now, for the most part, but my mom likes to joke she raised me on the four food groups, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box and candy….

    I bet I have like, one gut bacteria.

    At least I was breast fed, otherwise I’d probably be lookin like the stay puft marshmallow man at this point.

  • Anthony

    Future research: looking at diets high and low in specific factors, not just general low-cal/high-fiber vs high cal/sugar/fat/protein. It would be interesting to see how low calorie vegetarian diets compare to low calorie high protein diets.

  • halucijason

    Take a probiotic with over 10billion organisms and multiple strains, and drink danactive daily and eat fiber (fruits, veggies, flax, whole grains) eat real bread make sure it isn’t full of High fructose corn syrup, as most are even “wheat”.
    Best value probiotic here: http://www.vitacost.com/NSI-Probiotic-15-35

  • Idlewilde

    When I was little my mom, a hippie and one time vegetarian, always made sure she bought whole wheat bread, and sweets were kept to a super minimum. I mean, we had cookies maybe once a month, and candy only on halloween (sometimes) and easter. other things, like pudding, were only for special day desserts. I remember how exciting it was once when we made blackberry pie out of gathered blackberries. Even the crackers she gave us were healthy. Also, we eat only chicken and fish, rarely beef . At one point we grew almost all our vegetables, but when they closed down the community garden we were limited to what we could grow at home or on the porch (tomatoes, spinach, peppers, peas, carrots, and herbs.) We used to grow corn, eggplants, and squash as well.

  • http://xcvrdtweasdop21.eu Lan Harvilla

    You made some nice points there. I looked on the internet for the subject and found most guys will go along with with your website.

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