The research aims to develop ways to identify compounds that can enhance the representation of health-promoting members of the gut microbial community. The goal is to identify sustainable, affordable dietary fiber sources for incorporation into next-generation, more nutritious food products.
"Fiber is understood to be beneficial. But fiber is actually a very complicated mixture of many different components," says senior author Jeffrey Gordon, a microbiologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "Moreover, fibers from different plant sources that are processed in different ways during food manufacturing have different constituents. Unfortunately, we lack detailed knowledge of these differences and their biological significance. We do know that modern Western diets have low levels of fiber; this lack of fiber has been linked to loss of important members of the gut community and deleterious health effects."
Researchers - Fiber - Preparations - Byproducts - Food
The researchers started by testing 34 food-grade fiber preparations, many purified from byproducts of food manufacturing such as peels from fruits and vegetables that are thrown out during production of processed foods and drinks. They used mice initially raised under sterile conditions and then colonized with human gut microbes. The animals were fed a high-fat, low-fiber diet representative of diets typically consumed in the United States, with or without different types of supplemental fibers. The goal was to identify those fibers that were best at boosting the levels of key fiber-degrading bacterial species and promoting the expression of beneficial metabolic enzymes in the microbiome.
Since the mice had been colonized with a defined collection of human gut bacteria with sequenced genomes, the researchers knew all the genes that were present in their model human gut microbial community. This allowed them to perform a comprehensive, high-resolution proteomics study of all bacterial proteins whose expression changed in response to the different fiber types they tested. Combining these results...
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