Nell Greenfield Boyce reports for NPR:
A high-fat, high-sugar diet can quickly and dramatically change the population of microbes living in the digestive tract, according to a new study of human gut bugs transplanted into mice.
Trillions of microbes live inside the human gut, and one of their functions is to process parts of foods that we can’t digest on our own. Recent studies have suggested that certain populations of microbes may be associated with obesity.
“The energetic and nutrient value of food may not be an absolute term, but one that is modified in part by the microbes that live in our gut — who’s there in this community, how they operate, and how they operate in relationship to what we are eating,” says Jeffrey Gordon of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo.
He and other scientists are eager to start doing experiments to see what happens if the gut populations are modified by changes in diet, antibiotics, or dietary supplements. To make such experiments possible, Gordon has been working with colleagues to take gut microbes from human feces and transplant them into the intestinal tracts of previously germ-free mice…
[continues at NPR]