According to a study published in mBio by Agricultural Research Service scientists and their colleagues, healthy adults who consume a diverse diet containing at least 8-10 grams of soluble fiber per day have less antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their gut. The findings imply that diet modification has the potential to be a new weapon in the fight against antibiotic resistance. And this does not necessitate following some exotic diet, but rather following a broad diet that is high in fiber, a diet that many Americans currently follow.
Resistance to various commonly used antibiotics, such as tetracycline and aminoglycoside, is a significant source of risk for people worldwide, with the widely held expectation that the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – the term that refers to bacteria, viruses, and fungi that are resistant to antibiotics – will worsen over the coming decades.
Antimicrobial resistance in humans is mostly dependent on the gut microbiome, where microorganisms are known to possess genetically programmed mechanisms to survive antibiotic interaction.
Gut microorganisms are fed by our foods. All of this shows that by altering the gut microbiota, we may be able to diminish antibiotic resistance. However, this is only the beginning because what we did was an observational study rather than a trial in which we offered a specific diet for participants to eat, which would allow for more head-to-head comparisons.Danielle Lemay
“The findings imply that changing one’s diet has the potential to be a new weapon in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. And we’re not talking about some exotic cuisine here, but rather a broad, fiber-rich diet that many Americans currently follow” Danielle Lemay, a research molecular biologist at the ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, California, and the study’s leader, explained.
The researchers were seeking for precise connections between the levels of antibiotic resistance genes in human gut bacteria and fiber and animal protein in adult diets in this investigation.
The researchers discovered that consuming a diet high in fiber and low in protein, particularly from beef and pig, was strongly associated with reduced levels of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARG) in their gut microorganisms. Those with the lowest levels of ARG in their gut microbiomes had a higher abundance of strict anaerobic microorganisms, which are bacteria that do not thrive in the presence of oxygen and are a sign of a healthy gut with low inflammation. Bacterial species from the Clostridiaceae family were the most numerous anaerobes discovered.
But the amount of animal protein in the diet was not a top predictor of high levels of ARG. The strongest evidence was for the association of higher amounts of soluble fiber in the diet with lower levels of ARGs.
“Surprisingly, food diversification was the most important predictor of low ARG levels, even more than fiber. This shows that for greatest benefit, we should eat a variety of foods that are high in soluble fiber “Lemay continued.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is found in grains such as barley and oats, legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas, seeds (such as chia seeds), and nuts, as well as several fruits and vegetables such as carrots, berries, artichokes, broccoli, and winter squash.
On the other end of the data, those people who had the highest levels of ARG in their gut microbiomes were found to have significantly less diverse gut microbiomes compared to groups with low and medium levels of ARG.
“Gut microorganisms are fed by our foods. All of this shows that by altering the gut microbiota, we may be able to diminish antibiotic resistance” Lemay stated. The study included 290 healthy people in total.
“However, this is only the beginning because what we did was an observational study rather than a trial in which we offered a specific diet for participants to eat, which would allow for more head-to-head comparisons,” Lemay explained. “In the end, dietary interventions may be effective in reducing the burden of antimicrobial resistance and may eventually encourage dietary guidelines that examine how nutrition may minimize the incidence of antibiotic-resistant diseases.”