So………… you have a trillion or so bacteria that have taken up residence in your gut. Most are good guys, some are bad guys, we know these bacteria are engaged in a battle to survive.
Who prevails, matters, because these little critters play a role in
The immune system moderates the battle, while the cells lining the gut, dictate who is allowed to stay and who must go, but there is a third force, another set of players in this epic battle between the “good” and “bad” bacteria.
Your gut “virome”.
The third force
Your digestive system is also home to a myriad of viruses. These viruses are not attacking you……………….. they’re plaguing the bacteria that live in your gut. They are known as bacteriophages and have an out of this world appearance.
The relationship is complex…
- sometimes they simply annex themselves to the bacteria, coming along for the ride
- sometimes they occupy and then decimate, causing the total annihilation of the bacteria
Your bacteria do fight back….
And what doesn’t kill, can make the bacteria stronger, empowering the bacteria to resist antibiotics. Ouch !
The composition of the third force ?
Scientists have known about the existence of the third force for decades, but it is only now, that we are beginning to explore the impact the third force has on the delicate ecosystem of the gut.
Which bacteria take up residence is determined by genetics, the early gut environment, diet and stress levels………. a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, set about exploring whether diet would also impact the composition of the third force.
Beans and cheese
Six healthy volunteers were asked to change their diet for a week…
- 2 were asked to eat very little fibre and lots of fat
- 2 were asked to eat lots of fibre and very little fat
- 2 were told to just eat what they usually eat
The team collected stool samples from each of the volunteers, before they changed their diet and then on day 2, day 7 and day 8 of their altered diet.
All the DNA in the stool samples was isolated, amplified and sequenced. A computer then compared the DNA sequences in the samples, with DNA databases, to see which bits matched known viruses.
Many of the bits did not match any known viruses………… but the computer used the bits it could match, to create a profile of the viruses in each sample.
You’re feeding your virome
Each virome was unique, no two viromes looked even remotely similar.
When the diet changed……… so did the virome, so diet definitely impacts the composition of your gut virome.
The nature of the diet, impacted how the virome shifted.
Chicken or the egg ?
Since what you eat, impacts which bacteria dominate – the finding is not unexpected.
We know “good” bacteria like to indulge in “fibre”, this is one of the reasons eating broccoli is good for you.
So eat your vegetables……….. they’re good for you, for your bacteria and your viruses.
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