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Gut Microbiome Health

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Not seeing the results you were expecting from your new and improved dietary habits? A recent study suggests that the reason may be found inside your gut. The gut microbiome is becoming of more interest to nutrition science researchers as it is discovered how those bacteria, archaea, viruses, and eukaryotic microbes that reside in the digestive system influence health.

Gut microbiota has been connected to

  • various standard metrics of health
  • how well we age
  • emotional behaviors
  • weight management

Healthy adults typically house over 1,000 species of bacteria in their gut, and recent research suggests that we all fall into one of three enterotypes, our genetically inherent digestive population characteristics, which does not appear to have any connection to gender, age, nationality, or body mass index. Type 1 is characterized by high levels of Bacteroides, type 2 has a higher concentration of Prevotella, and type 3 shows significant numbers of gram-positive Ruminococcus. Although there are a number of lifestyle-related factors in the composition of our digestive ecosystem—primarily dietary behaviors and specifically probiotic supplementation with products like PB Assist®+—it is largely genetic. What recent research is finding is that our enterotype may have significant health implications, specifically in how our body responds to different dietary input and what dietary behaviors may be best for us to reach our physical goals.

In effort to expand the understanding of the influence of the gut microbiome and dietary fiber content on weight management, researchers randomly assigned 62 participants to two different diets for a 26-week study period.5 The research group was assigned to follow a diet focused on whole, nutrient- and fiber-dense foods. The control group was assigned to follow their current dietary patterns. Both diets included slightly decreased caloric intake. Weight, body measurements, and other common metrics of health were taken before the start and after the completion of the research period.
Following the completion of the research period, participants were separated for further evaluation based upon their enterotype, which was determined by a stool analysis. While those on the high fiber diet had better overall results, with an average loss of 3.5 kg compared to 1.7 kg for those in the control group, there were significant variations in results dependent on enterotype. For instance, those who had high levels of Prevotella in their intestine (enterotype 2) and followed the high fiber diet lost more than twice as much weight overall than those with low levels (enterotype 1) who followed the same diet. Furthermore, outside of those participants with enterotype 2, whose diet was followed had no statistically measurable influence on how much weight was lost. What these finding suggest is that for those with enterotype 2, whole food and dietary fiber-rich diet appears to be effective in helping to manage weight. For those of other enterotypes, overall energy balance seems to be the primary factor.
While whole food, nutrient- and fiber-rich dietary choices are the best for overall health (and there is a rapidly growing body of research to support probiotic and prebiotic supplementation), weight management is still an unfinished puzzle. Should you get your stool analyzed or ask your physician to schedule a full microbiome screening before deciding how to plan the dietary component of your weight management plan? Possibly, but further research needs to be conducted. To meet your own goals, focus on creating a negative energy balance, make sure you include doTERRA Lifelong Vitality Pack® to meet your vitamin and mineral needs, and experiment to find which foods work best for you