The Gut Microbiome Influences the Body’s Response to a High-Fat Diet

Microbiome affect response to high-fat diet

A new study published in the journal Cell Reports, researchers at Imperial College London shed light on why high-fat diets affect people differently.


The gut microbiome is a vast, complex system that is implicated in a myriad of chronic modern diseases including IBD, type 2 diabetes, obesity and more. Scientists know that the gut microbiome might influence human brain development and behavior through the metabolic products that they produce (including short chain fatty acids).


It has been soundly established that the gut microbiome is shaped by diet, but this new research suggests that the gut microbiome also influences how the body responds to diet.


In the study, the researchers placed genetically similar mice on a high-fat diet and tracked alterations in their health and behavior. The microbiomes of the mice were analyzed before starting the high-fat diets.

mice on high-fat diet


The new diet caused a number of changes in the mice, but they were not all affected the same way.


By comparing the individual mice’s response to the high-fat diet to their microbiome signatures at the beginning of the diet, the team found that the microbiome signatures were predictive of some of the changes. In particular, one metabolite called trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), which has been linked to heart disease and stroke risk, was an accurate predictor of glucose intolerance.


If further research confirms this finding in humans, the researchers believe that it could lead to doctors devising personalized diets for patients based on the unique composition of their gut microbiomes.