The Guts of Dietary Habits

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Science  07 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6052, pp. 45-46
DOI: 10.1126/science.1213799

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There is a multimillion-dollar industry based on the concept that introducing beneficial bacteria into the human intestines will improve our health. The trillions of symbionts in the large intestine profoundly affect our metabolism and immunity. Accordingly, abnormal bacterial communities have been identified in several human diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases (13), colon cancer (4, 5), irritable bowel syndrome (6), and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (7). The composition of microbial communities is generally stable within each individual. Past studies of the gut microbiota emphasized the huge impact of nutrition (8), which is likely to outweigh that of the host genotype (9). On page 105 of this issue. Wu et al. (10) further explore how dietary factors can influence the profile and stability of intestinal microbes.