full story and comments:
December 15, 2013
Recently, a new diet study conducted in the United States revealed that eating
meat had a causal effect on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Study volunteers
were asked to switch from their regular diets to either full plant or animal
foods. Plant dieters were restricted to grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits.
The animal-product eaters had to stick to eggs, meat, and cheese. The
volunteers, all between 21 and 33, had body mass indices ranging from 19 to 32.
After five days on their diets, the researchers found that the microbial
activity in their participants' intestines had changed significantly.
Plant-based volunteers had bacteria suited to synthesize amino acids - protein's
building blocks - from plant sugars. Animal-based participants, on the other
hand, were found to house trillions of "gut bugs" that broke down protein. In a
very short period of time, they had developed an abundance of microbes to the
tune of 22 clusters.
Researchers also found that the animal-based volunteers in the study had much
higher amounts of Bilphila wadsworthia, a bile-tolerant bug that causes IBD. Dr.
Peter Turnbaugh, the principal investigator, concluded that there was a link
between bile acids, dietary fat, and the growth of micro-organisms capable of
causing IBD. In addition, the researchers found that the gut's microbiome can
change rather rapidly when responding to a change in diet.
The study revealed that those who eat meat can suffer from IBD. Although the
symptoms may not be very severe for some, others could end up hospitalised from
the gut-wrenching abdominal pain. Some may be house-bound due to the bouts of
diarrhea associated with IBD. Other extra-intestinal symptoms or side-effects
may also result, including sexual dysfunction, fibromyalgia, and problems with
the menstrual cycle for women.
In the end, it is safe to say that diet can affect the bacteria microbiome in
people's bodies. Meat eaters need to be aware that their diet can contribute to
IBD, which generally includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. This
awareness, alone, can remind people that perhaps the best thing to do is to eat
a well-balanced diet.