The Gut Project findings you need to know about

The VITL Nutrition Team / 21 May 2018

Following World Digestive Day last week, we thought it would only be right to bring to you some exciting research in the world of science and digestion!


The American Gut Project has just published the largest study to date to help further our understanding the human microbiome. 

What is the microbiome?

This is the unique microbial community that inhabits our body. More simply, fungi, viruses and all other microbes in our body are collectively referred to as the human microbiota, your microbiome is all the genes your microbiota contains, and this differs from person to person! This all sounds like a lot of nonsense, but we promise it’s so important for so many reasons! If we are able to understand the types of bacteria and where they live in our bodies and how they are influenced through diet and lifestyle, then we can start to understand their implications to human health, including important associations with various diseases and health conditions. Yep, it’s a big deal. 

The American Gut Project key findings:

  • Diet 

The number of plant types we integrate into our diet influences the diversity of our microbiome. They found that participants who ate more than 30 different plant types per week had gut microbiomes that were more diverse than those who ate 10 or fewer.

  • Antibiotics

People who had taken antibiotics in the last month were shown to have a less diverse gut microbiome than those who had not taken antibiotics in the last year. 

  • Mental health 

The gut microbiomes of 125 people who reported having a mental health disorder (including depression, schizophrenia, PTSD or bipolar disorder) all appeared to show similarities in their gut microbiomes (compared to those with no mental health disorders).  The study also found specific bacteria types that could be more commonly found in people with depression than those who do not have the disorder. 

There is still a large amount of room for more research in this area, it certainly is just the beginning! But the American Gut Project hopes to provide more information on specific areas that can then be explained further and used to improve people’s health.

In the meantime, we suggest improving the diversity of your gut microbiome with a greater variety of fruits and vegetables. Here are some creative tips to get you started...