Our diets have a huge influence the gut microbiome
Our diets have a huge influence the gut microbiome. Research has found links between Western diet, typically high in animal fat and protein and low in fibre, with increased production of cancer-causing compounds and inflammation. The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, which is typically high in fibre and low in red meat, has been likened to increased levels of faecal short-chain fatty acids, which have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects and improve the immune system. Scientists hope that population-wide research will advance existing findings. One such project, the ongoing American Gut Study, is collecting and comparing the gut microbiomes of thousands of people living in the US. So far, research suggest those whose diets include more plant-based foods have a more diverse microbiome, and one that is "extremely different" from those who don't, says Daniel McDonald, the project's scientific director.