Role of Diet and Obesity in Shaping the Human Gut Microbiome

Primary Researchers:

Thomas Gurry

Clinical Principal Investigator: Eric Alm (MIT), Thomas Gurry (MIT, University of Geneva), HST Consortium (Harvard-MIT)

Abstract from Publication, Sci Rep. 2018 Aug 23;8(1):12699:

Dietary interventions to manipulate the human gut microbiome for improved health have received increasing attention. However, their design has been limited by a lack of understanding of the quantitative impact of diet on a host’s microbiota. We present a highly controlled diet perturbation experiment in a healthy, human cohort in which individual micronutrients are spiked in against a standardized background. We identify strong and predictable responses of specific microbes across participants consuming prebiotic spike-ins, at the level of both strains and functional genes, suggesting fine-scale resource partitioning in the human gut. No predictable responses to non-prebiotic micronutrients were found. Surprisingly, we did not observe decreases in day-to-day variability of the microbiota compared to a complex, varying diet, and instead found evidence of diet-induced stress and an associated loss of biodiversity. Our data offer insights into the effect of a low complexity diet on the gut microbiome, and suggest that effective personalized dietary interventions will rely on functional, strain-level characterization of a patient’s microbiota.