In late October Trevor Lockett from CSIRO, a MyNewGut partner, spoke at the International Bio Fest 2016 (Melbourne, Australia). His lecture was titled “Food, Structure, Bacteria and Health”. Read a preview of the abstract below.
Abstract: There’s a revolution happening in health. Bacteria, long maligned as the arch nemeses of human health and wellbeing, to be destroyed at all costs, are now being recast in a different light. We already knew that the bacteria of the human gut were helpful to our nutrition: extracting residual energy from components of food that are not digested in the small intestine and making certain micronutrients such as vitamin K, B group vitamins, folate and amino acids. Recent research, however, in both animal models and humans has associated changes in the bacterial populations of the gut – the gut microbiota – to a wide range of diseases, not only those of the gut, such as colorectal cancer, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases but also others where the target organ is remote from the gut such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autism, Parkinson’s disease and even depression. The food we eat can have a profound influence on our gut microbiota but it is those components of food that are not digested in our small intestine that become available as nutrients sources for the microbiota of our colons. Dietary fibre, mainly cell wall material from grains, fruits and vegetables, is particularly influential. While the microbiota enjoys the enriched environment provided by the roughage components of fibre (cellulose, hemi celluloses and lignin’s), they are actually far more interested in other less well recognised components of fibre – the fermentable carbohydrates. With a particular focus on dietary fibre, this presentation will address how structure of foods, both the physical and the chemical, can impact not only on the gut microbiota population structure but also its function, how these can impact on health and how we might begin to draw on this knowledge to help us eat better for improved, personalised health.