Science  13 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6164, pp. 1298

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  1. Diets Induce Quick-Change in Gut Microbes

    Eat up.

    A plant-based meal for testing the effects of diet on the microbiome.


    Almost monthly a new study suggests a link between bacteria living in the gut and diseases from obesity to autism, at least in mice. But connecting human health to gut microbes has been a struggle, in part because it's difficult to have people change their diets for the weeks or months researchers thought it would take to alter an intestine's microbes and see an effect.

    Yet, with the right diet, it actually takes just 3 days to shift the abundance and activity of different gut bacteria, according to a study in Nature this week. Computational biologist Lawrence David of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and his colleagues asked 10 people to eat only meats, eggs, and cheeses or else a high-fiber vegetarian diet for 5 days. Fecal samples from before, during, and after the diets revealed reproducible changes in bacterial makeup, paving the way for short-term tests of various microbiome-health hypotheses. "It's a landmark study," says Rob Knight, a microbial ecologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "It changes our view of how rapidly the microbiome can change."