Certain human gut microbes with links to health thrive when fed specific types of ingredients in dietary fibers, according to a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The work — conducted in mice colonized with human gut bacteria and using new technologies for measuring nutrient processing — is a step toward developing more nutritious foods based on a strategy of targeted enrichment of key members of gut microbial communities. The researchers identified fibers that selectively increase the abundance of beneficial microbes and tracked down the bioactive components of fibers responsible for their effects. To decipher how members of gut communities compete or cooperate with each other for these fiber ingredients, they also invented a type of artificial food particle that acts as a biosensor for monitoring nutrient processing within the intestine.

 

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