Low-Fiber Diets Mess Up Gut Microbes—and Changes Can Become Heritable

Blame your parents!

“Think of the children!” may one day be a slogan for a health campaign imploring people to eat more fiber.

Doctors and nutrition experts have been harping on the importance of fiber for years, particularly how most people in industrialized countries eat less than the recommended daily dose of 25 to 38 grams. After all, the nutrient, a diverse group of molecules that includes complex carbohydrates, helps keep you “regular.” Perhaps less well-known, fiber helps maintain a healthy, diverse population of gut microbes.

But eating fiber may not just benefit the microbial balance of the eater—it may also benefit that of the eater’s progeny, according to a new study in Nature.

Source: Low-fiber diets mess up gut microbes—and changes can become heritable

Fun fact: Mothers pass gut bacteria on to children during childbirth. It’s been shown that C-section babies have much less diverse gut bacteria than those born naturally.

I know it seems unpleasant, but of the two ways we typically transfer them, I promise this is the one you want.

The part that surprises me the most is how much of the changes persist through reversing the diet, and through generations!   I always thought that microbes that die off could be re-imported some way, or would hang out just enough to flourish when the old diet returns. At a minimum, I thought that the new generation would get a new crack at building a new microbiome.  Apparently not.

Fascinatingly scary.

That said, this experiment was done in a clean laboratory environment with clean laboratory grade food. In real life mice would be eating dirty food as well as each others excrement on a regular basis. Wouldn’t that yield very different results?