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How Diet and Lifestyle Impact Your Gut Microbiome

Dr. Ghannoum

It may come as a surprise, but genetics don’t play as much of a role in gut microbiome makeup as was once thought. According to new research published in Nature, controllable factors such as diet and lifestyle are shown to have the greatest impact on the nature of one’s gut microbiome, as opposed to genetic framework.

We now know that it is actually possible to influence and potentially reshape the composition of bacteria in our bodies.

This is good news for anyone willing to make healthy diet and lifestyle changes.  If gut microbiome can be improved by making better diet and lifestyle choices, then optimal gut health can be reached despite our genetic predisposition.

Due to its powerful effect on the entire body, including the nervous system, the gut has been awarded the nickname, “second brain”.  I, however, would go even further, contesting that the gut microbiome could improve the overall state of one’s health.

The Study

A research study was conducted on a diverse, healthy Israeli population. Over 1,000 participants were tested on the impact of genetics versus diet and lifestyle on the microbiome. People from a variety of genetic backgrounds participated in the study. The conclusion stated that gut microbiome was not strongly tied to genetic makeup. This study matched the research, concluding that genes play an insignificant role in determining the composition of one’s gut microbiome.

The study also revealed that people with different genetic makeups, that lived in the same household had similar microbiome compositions. On the other hand, when studying relatives with no history of living together, their gut microbiome compositions showed no similarities.

This fascinating study revealed that diet, drugs, and anthropometric measurements accounted for more than 20% of microbiome composition.

Conclusion

Research has shown the microbiome can actually predict a lot of things as well as, if not better than, genetics. Things such as BMI, fasting glucose levels, glycemic status, high-density lipoprotein levels, cholesterol, waist and hip circumference and ratio, and lactose consumption.

Lifestyle choices, especially diet, can highly influence the state of your gut microbiome, no matter your genetic background. The more we learn about the correlation between lifestyle, diet, microbiome-related diseases, and microbiome composition, the better we can help people heal and reach optimal gut health.