"We wanted to look at the question of whether microbiota change during a drastic, radical change of diet and lifestyle," says Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, a microbial ecologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey who led the study with microbiologist Monica Contreras from the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research. "In this village, there was no market economy, no bodega, no Coca-Cola -- so this represented a radical shift in diet from a high percentage of processed foods in urban places to zero processed foods and an all-natural diet."
Dominguez-Bello, along with researchers from New York University and two Venezuelan institutes, took advantage of a visit planned by five, city-dwelling adult visitors -- and two of their children -- to live among an indigenous Yekwana village in the Bolivar State of Venezuela for 16 days. The village has a hunter-gatherer-gardener lifestyle and diet.
Fare - Cassava - Starchy - Tuber - Corn
Typical fare includes cassava (a starchy, high-fiber tuber), corn, various wild fruits, including plantains, pineapples, and berries, fish, and small amounts of game meat and eggs gathered from wild birds. Visitors had two meals a day that consisted of soup with a bit of fish or meat. The rest of their diet consisted of "all-day snacking on cassava with fruit" says Dominguez-Bello. The visitors also bathed in the river without soap and followed the natural circadian rhythms of their hosts.
"The diet contains very little animal protein and it's very, very high in fiber and very low in fat," compared to Western diets, says Dominguez-Bello.
People - Diets - Gut - Microbiota - Diversity
While it is known that people with traditional diets have higher gut microbiota diversity compared to those with urban diets, it was unknown if urban dwellers could shift the diversity of their microbiota higher simply by following a traditional lifestyle and diet. In the gut, a high diversity of microbes is considered a sign of good...
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