Diversity enriches our communities.
Similarly, when it comes to most microbial populations, diversity is desirable —with at least one striking exception. For example, vaginal microbiota is distinct in that greater bacterial diversity is seen in women with bacterial vaginosis.
However, researchers in the last several decades observed loss of microbial diversity (LOMD) in numerous disorders and diseases.
In a recent article for the International Probiotic Association titled Diversity Matters in Microbiota, I explored how LOMD is linked to disease and how “restoring optimum microbial diversity with prebiotic and/or probiotic foods and supplements may have a role in prevention and possibly treatments of these often intractable problems.”
Intestinal dysbiosis and loss of microbial diversity are linked, with newer observations suggesting a causal relationship. LOMD appears to be a key factor that links lifestyle in higher income countries with higher rates of chronic diseases. Among the many risk factors that may cause LOMD, the following are discussed: lifestyle, eating behaviors, disruption of biological clock and antibiotic and other drug consumption.
Recommendations to counteract LOMD include:
- Cesarean sections for convenience or to minimize malpractice should not be allowed.
- Processed foods should be substituted with fiber-rich fresh fruits, vegetables and grains.
- Stress should be managed.
- Antibiotics must only be used when absolutely necessary.
- Probiotics in foods and supplements may help restore optimum gut microbiota diversity.
- Feeding those probiotics with prebiotic fibers is also crucial.
Read the IPA article for the full story.
“A fiber-rich diet enhances gut microbiota diversity. Unfortunately, Western-style diets are often low in fermentable prebiotic fibers, which can lead to a harmful reduction in beneficial microbes, which normally produce important health-regulating compounds known as postbiotic metabolites. One example is short-chain fatty acids, which provide anti-inflammatory benefits and also compete with pathogens. The result is significantly different microbiota compositions (i.e. loss of microbial diversity) than seen in cultures with an intake of traditional high-fiber diets.”