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The gut bacteria of four Himalayan populations differ based on their dietary lifestyles, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and their collaborators.
All four populations—the Tharu, the Raute, the Raji and the Chepang—are longtime residents of the Himalayan foothills, with similar languages, cultural practices and ancestry. Where the four diverge is in their dietary history: The Tharu have practiced agriculture for the past 250 to 300 years; the Raute and the Raji have practiced agriculture for the past 30 to 40 years; and the Chepang are hunter-gatherers. The study found that the composition of the gut microorganisms, or gut microbiome, of each population differed based on whether and how long ago it had departed from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
Study - Microbiomes - Lifestyle - Changes - Human
"This study indicates that human microbiomes may have changed gradually as human lifestyle changed, and those changes can happen within a human's lifetime," said Aashish Jha, Ph.D., a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford and lead author of the study.
The findings will be published Nov. 15 in PLOS Biology.
Past - Research - Differences - Gut - Microbiomes
Past research has identified stark differences between the gut microbiomes of indigenous populations in Africa and South America and those of industrialized Western populations in Europe and the United States. However, this study is the first to show a change in gut microbiome compositions between closely related populations living within the same geographic area.
Within each of our intestines lives a community of trillions of bacteria that make up our gut microbiome. These bacterial communities are essential for digesting foods and regulating our immune system. They begin to colonize immediately after birth and develop at an astounding rate once we start to interact with our environment. As we grow, our exposure to breast milk, soft foods and eventually solid fruits, vegetables and meats helps the gut establish a complex microbiome that...
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