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Irreversible Damage from Low-Fibre Diets Inherited by Children

Findings from a newly published study suggest damage to the gut's microbiome--as a result of a low-fibre diet--may not be reversible with a simple dietary approach as previously thought. Moreover, it appears that their offspring inherit this irreversible damage.

Dietary fibre plays a crucial role in shaping the body’s microbial ecosystem, and are notably reduced in a typical Western diet, which is high in fat and simple carbs, and low in fibre (compared with more traditional diets).

In this study, researchers fed ten mice a diet rich in plant-derived fibre for six weeks. These mice were then divided into two groups. At the start of the experiment, the microbiome composition of both groups of mice was identical. One group was fed a low-fibre diet for seven weeks, after which they were returned to the high-fibre diet for a further six weeks. The control group were fed the high-fibre diet throughout the experiment.

Results show that the diet-switching mice, while consuming the low-fibre diet, had an altered composition relative to the control group. Weeks after returning to the high-fibre diet, their microbiome remained distinct from that of the control group's.

To determine whether certain bacterial populations had been lost over the course of the diet switch, the researchers focused on operational taxonomic units (OTUs), which would indicate the prevalence and abundance of certain microbiota within each experimental group.

They identified 208 OTUs in the diet-switching group and 213 OTUs in the control group. When mice were switched from the high-fibre diet to the low-fibre diet, the researchers observed 60% of taxa (124 out of 208) decreased in abundance compared with only 11% of the control group (25 out of 213).

When these mice were returned to a high-fibre diet, they were 33% (71 out of 208) were less abundant. The control group did not change significantly (10% were less abundant; 22 out of 213).

“These data reveal two divergent qualities of the microbiota. First 59 of the 208 OTUs that exhibit diet-induced decline in abundance recovered with the reintroduction of [fibres] illustrating microbiota resilience over short time scales,” the study commented.

“Secondly, however, the low [fibre] diet switch perturbation ‘scars’ on the microbiota.”

The researchers proposed a change in diet over 100s of years that resulted in an adjustment in human gut microbiome, pointing to the agricultural revolution and the mass consumption of processed foods as turning points.

“The model used does not allow us to address microbiota changes that may have occurred as humans shifted from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to one from a modern industrialised country.”

“Our data supports a model in which consuming a modern diet low in fibre contributes to the loss of taxa over generations, and may be responsible for the lower-diversity microbiota observed in the industrialised world. The data we present also hint that further deterioration of the Western microbiota is possible."

This mean our damn Western diet is causing mass extinctions in our bodies and the mircoscopic level! ...and no antibiotics even needed to cause this!  :(

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Source: Diet-induced extinctions in the gut microbiota compound over generations

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  1. disturbing news! Just wondering, if a child eats a good diet, then not so great as a teenager and young adult, then a great diet later in life. I’m referring to me and many of my friends. Based on the study I read – is it hopeless? And is there any way to reverse/repair damage that has been done in the past due to poor diet choices?
    I know that you are like me – there is ALWAYS a bright side. :)

    1. That's a great question, and although I don't know the answer, I'd like to believe that with deliberate, thoughtful tweaks to your diet, we should be able to get close to where things should be. Keep in mind, however, that what your microbiome "should" look like is anyone's guess at this point. We are just scratching the surface on this topic, so a LOT more research will need to be done.

      My take: Get down and dirty (I'm talking about organic gardening), don't be too clean (don't disinfect like a crazy germaphobe from the 80s and 90s),eat lots of fermented foods, eat a healthy but varied diet, and avoid chemicals at all costs (like pesticides, preservatives, etc.)

      Also note, that our GI microbiome naturally changes over time as we age. Yes, diet has a large role to play in that, but our community of microbes are in constant flux and always changing. The idea is to keep it as diverse as possible be being exposed to as many sources of non-pathogenic bacteria as possible.

      Good luck!


  2. Well according to our beloved food pyramid, our life is full of fibre. My humble opinion is that we need prebiotic (aka resistant starch) and just not fibre.

    1. Good point, and something I should clarify... in the published article, the authors specifically talk about Microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (MACs). In my write-up, I decided to simplify the terminology by referring to them as "fibre" ...which I maybe should have referred to as soluble fibre to be more specific.

  3. I would like to see same study with ketogenic die, or how our microbiome is doing in keto life.


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