Gut bacteria found to be far healthier in rural Africa children than in urban Italian ones! 

Dr Paolo Lionette from the University of Florence and colleagues compared the diets and gut and faecal bacteria from 15 Florentine children with those of 14 healthy African children from Burkina Fasa.

The differences in gut bacteria were minimal in infancy. But once the children were weaned the two groups diverged dramatically. The Africa children, living on fibre-rich meals of millet, legumes and other vegetables (enlivened by the occasional termite) had a far more diverse mix of bacteria than the European children living on a typical, high fat, sugar and meat Western diet.

Moreover, the Italian children had more than three times as many species associated with diarrhoea, which suggests that reduced intestinal diversity allowed unwelcome bugs to gain a foothold. The Italians also had bacterial profiles that suggested a greater risk of obesity while the African children had lots of bacterial species associated with leanness, and microbes known to produce short-chain fatty acids which are usually associated with lower levels of allergies and inflammation.

When the researchers measured the children’s short term fatty acid the children from Burkina Faso were found to have more than double the concentration of their Italian counterparts which suggests that healthy bacterial populations living in the gut may not just exclude disease-causing bugs but may actively help to suppress disease.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1005963107

More research on gut dysbiosis

First Published in August 2010

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