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‘Eat The Rainbow’: Variety Of Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts Linked To Gut Health

fruits and veggies

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Gut bacteria are microorganisms in your body that help digest food that are known to play an important role in human health. University of Illinois Urbana Champaign researchers are among the authors of a new study in the journal mSystems that finds a link between a person’s diet and their gut microbes.

The study is known as the American Gut Project. It’s a crowdsourced, global science effort, which means anyone in the world can submit a stool sample, along with $99, and researchers will analyze the bacteria in it. Participants are also asked to fill out a survey with questions about their diet and lifestyle.

“They could get their whole family involved," said Hannah Holscher, U of I assistant professor of food science and human nutrition. "Some of them even get their pets involved.”

Holscher is one of nearly 70 scientists that worked together to analyze data from stool samples and diet surveys collected from more than 11,000 people across the globe.

In the first published study since the American Gut Project launched in 2012, the researchers report a link between a person's diet and the diversity of the bacteria in their gut.

“Eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes that have different types of fiber in them supports lots of different types of microbes that rely on fiber as an energy source within our bodies," Holscher said. "I would just encourage people to 'eat the rainbow' so that they can help support gut health and microbial diversity."

While the findings do not prove that a certain diet will improve overall health, the information can help in the design of future studies to provide more clarity.

Anyone interested in participating in the ongoing American Gut Project can find more information online.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman