The medical community remains unsure how the host of viruses present in the human gut contribute to health and disease, but recent research suggests that diet has a lot to do with viral populations in the intestine.
In a study, a team of scientists at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine divided a cohort of subjects into three subsets: one who consumed a high-fat, low-fiber diet, another who ate foods low in fat and high in fiber and a third group that was instructed to eat what they want.
After examining the stool samples of volunteers over the course of eight days, the researchers found that participants who ate similar diets had similar populations of gut viruses.
“The study provides a new window on the vast viral populations that live in the human gut, demonstrates that they vary radically between individuals, and shows that dietary changes can affect not just bacterial populations but also viral populations,” said senior author Frederic Bushman, Ph.D.
The researchers likened the human body to a coral reef, which is inhabited by a number of organisms that bolster its health and others that can be destructive.