The National Institute of Health has a whole initiative dedicated to studying the microbes that live inside our bodies and how they impact our health. This called the microbiome. The easiest way to investigate the microbiome is by seeing what happens when the usual microbes are not there or are changed somehow.

A good example is the bacteria called Clostridium difficile. As the name implies, this bacteria is hard to get rid of, and it causes serious intestinal conditions. Sometimes the only way to treat it through fecal transplant and heavy doses of antibiotics. Fecal transplant involves moving samples of a healthy person’s gut microbiome to that of the sufferer.

Another example of ways the gut microbiome can be altered is what you put in it. That is, what you eat. Undigested dietary elements are prime feeding ground for microbes, so what you eat can have a dramatic effect on your gut microbes, even in as short an amount of time as two weeks.

An international study with the University of Pittsburgh, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), Imperial College (UK) and Wageningen University (Netherlands) presented during Digestive Disease Week (DDW), showed the relationship between diet and the gut microbiome. The study’s goal was to find the link, if any, between diet, microbiome, and colorectal cancer risk. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among both men and women, but as a whole, African Americans have a higher risk than any other racial group. Yet, Africans have almost no risk of colorectal cancer. Why is this?

The test switched the high fat, high meat, low fiber Western diet for a high fiber Zulu diet, and vice-versa. Stool samples taken before the switch and two weeks after showed increased levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome of the African Americans who ate the Zulu diet. The Zulu who ate the Western diet showed increases of detrimental bacteria in their stool samples.

Food might just be the best medicine.

Read the entire article here: How Diet Can Bug Your Gut