Diversity from Within

Variety is the spice of life – especially in your tummy!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

A diverse diet is a healthy diet! But what about the health of the bacteria in our gut?

At Rutgers University, Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello studies lifestyle and gut health. She wondered: What would happen if urban-dwelling folks lived and ate as tropical hunter-gatherers?

A sixteen-day trip to an indigenous village in Venezuela was used as a test kitchen!

The visitors ate just as the locals do: wild fruits, yucca, fish, and a few bites of game meat. They also followed local hygienic practices: no soap, toothpaste, or chlorinated water.

Throughout their stay, the visitors’ hands, mouths, noses, and feces were swabbed for bacterial content.

Did this drastic change affect their gut bacteria? The answer was – yes, for the youngsters! Interestingly, children aged seven and under showed far more diversification of their gut bacteria than the adults. Overall, this suggests the importance of a diverse diet at a young age.

But hey, baby steps! Like the mango in my sangria – that counts… right?