According to researchers from the University of Colorado, probiotic supplements may not be for everyone. Every person’s gut microbiome is unique, and many probiotic supplements may not effectively bolster gut health for everyone. Instead, they point to the importance of enhancing a diverse microbiome.
Daily caloric restriction vs. Intermittent fasting
For the pilot study, researchers from the university compared the effects of two popular weight loss regimens – intermittent fasting and the more traditional approach of daily caloric restriction – on microbiome diversity. They found that both approaches have a positive impact on helping diversify the microbiome.
In the fasting group, participants were instructed to fast three non-consecutive days per week. On fasting days, the participants were to eat about 25% of what they normally eat, and on non-fast days they could eat whatever they wanted.
In the other group, participants were instructed to reduce calories every day by the same amount, about 30% of their weight maintenance needs.
Participants were also given behavioral support during the intervention and advised about ways to improve their overall diet quality as well as encouraged to increase their physical activity levels.
The study focused on the first three months of the one-year intervention study during which time the researchers noted several changes in the microbiome in both groups of participants.
One measure of the microbiome they looked at is called alpha diversity; these measures represent the diversity of the different types of microbes in an environment.
While not always true, a more diverse and robust microbiome is often associated with better health and leanness. It’s thought if you have a more diverse set of microbes in your gut, then you have more microbes that can respond to a wider range of health impacts.
The researchers looked at different measures of alpha diversity that consider various features of diversity. They all increased in the first three months of this intervention.
When they looked at differences between the two diet groups, there weren't any differences in alpha diversity.
The results suggest that, in terms of the microbiome’s diversity, both dietary weight loss strategies are equally successful. Similarly, they saw changes in the overall taxonomic structure of the microbiome composition across all participants in both intervention groups.
“This means that you can choose a dietary weight loss strategy that works for you, and either way your microbiome will likely shift and increase diversity,” the researchers said.
Source: Nutrients, August 16, 2023.
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