The study, which was published in The Journal of Nutrition, cross-referenced data from participants in the American Gut Project. By comparing microbial communities in stool samples with dietary information, researchers were able to determine which foods led to more diverse microbial populations.

“We observed a difference … that confirms evidence highlighting the impact of diet on the gut microbiome and extends previous research by introducing results from a very healthy population that could help inform future work aimed at defining a ‘healthy’ microbiome, ” wrote the researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of California San Diego.

Data .

A total of 432 participants were included in the analysis, between the ages of 18 and 60. Participants completed the VioScreen food frequency questionnaire and mailed stool samples. A food frequency questionnaire was completed for 90 days before faecal samples were mailed.

The researchers investigated differences in faecal microbial composition, cross-referenced with dietary data. Scores were calculated using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), which calculates how consistent a person is in following dietary recommendations. HEI-2015 scores are inversely related to the risk of several health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Scores were calculated by grouping 13 factors into two groups: adequacy factors, which are encouraged, and moderation factors, which are restricted. A higher HEI score would be achieved with a higher intake of adequate factors and a limited intake of moderate factors. Adequate factors include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, dairy, etc. While moderation includes refined grains, added sugars, saturated fat and sodium.

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