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Western lifestyle bad for gut bacteria

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Toronto, April 17 (IANS) As much as you may pride on your “western lifestyle”, it may also have some adverse affects on your health. Researchers have highlighted that some modern lifestyle practices may diminish the variety of bacteria that naturally reside in our gut.

Western lifestyle may diminish the variety of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract by limiting their ability to be transmitted among humans, the findings showed.

“There are several aspects of western lifestyle that have been hypothesized to alter the gut microbiome and decrease diversity,” explained senior author Jens Walter from the University of Alberta in Canada.

“These include diet, sanitation, and clinical practices such as antibiotic use and Caesarean sections, but we lack a conceptual understanding of how our microbiomes are altered,” Walter noted.

Walter and his colleagues compared the fecal bacteria of adults from two rural, non-industrialised regions in Papua New Guinea with those of the US residents.

The research team found that Papua New Guineans have microbiomes with greater bacterial diversity, lower inter-individual variation, and vastly different compositional profiles compared with the US residents.

Bacterial dispersal, or the ability of bacteria to move from individual to individual, appears to be the dominant process that shapes the collection of gut bacteria in residents of Papua New Guinea but not those in the US residents.

“These findings suggest that lifestyle practices that reduce bacterial dispersal–specifically sanitation and drinking water treatment–might be an important cause of microbiome alterations,” Walter noted.

However, the investigators noted the importance of caution when questioning specific modern lifestyle practices, though, because overall, health and life expectancy is higher in westernised societies.

The study appeared in the journal Cell Reports.

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