People with a high number of copies of a gene called AMY1, which expresses a salivary enzyme for breaking down starch, correlated strongly with a certain profile of gut and mouth bacteria, according to a new Cornell University study.
A family of bacteria called Ruminococcaceae proliferates in the intestines when more of this salivary enzyme -- called amylase -- is available. The bacteria are known to break down resistant starch so it may be digested, something human amylases can't do. Degrading these hard to digest starches provides nutritional benefits.
Times - People - Copies - Gene - Calories
In prehistoric times and thereafter, people with more copies of this gene may have benefited when calories were scarce, such as during cold seasons and famines.
"It likely provided additional nutrition from starch," said Angela Poole, assistant professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, and lead author of a study published April 10 in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.
Ruth - Ley - Director - Max - Planck
Ruth Ley, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Germany and previously in Cornell's Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, is senior author of the study.
The results suggest the need for personalized nutrition, Poole said, in which medical professionals could take a patient's AMY1 gene copy number into account when giving dietary advice. Other researchers have associated the gene with glucose response to meals, insulin resistance and body...
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