What’s Your Gut Microbiome Enterotype?

What’s Your Gut Microbiome Enterotype?

October 14, 2019 49 By Ewald Bahringer


“What’s Your Gut Microbiome Enterotype?” The human gut has a diverse collection
of microorganisms making up some 1,000 species, with each individual
presenting with their own unique collection. But it wasn’t known whether
this variation is on a continuum or if people cluster into
specific classifiable types until this famous study analyzed
the gut flora of people across multiple countries and continents
and identified three so-called enterotypes. There were people who had
lots of Bacteroides in their gut, people who had a predominance
of Prevotella species, and people whose stool instead grew
out a lot of Runinococcus species. Pretty amazing that with so many
hundreds of types of bacteria that people would settle into
just one of three categories. But they figure our guts
are like ecosystems. Just like there’s lots of different
species of animals on the planet, they aren’t randomly distributed. I mean,
you don’t find dolphins in the desert. In the desert you find desert species;
in the jungle you find jungle species, because each ecosystem has
different selective pressures like rainfall or temperature. Well, this early research suggested there
are three types of colon ecosystems. You can split humanity
up into three types: people whose guts grow out
lots of Bacteroides type bacteria, those whose guts are better
homes for Prevotella group bacteria, and those that foster the
growth of Ruminococcus. And if you think it’s amazing
they were able to boil it down to fit everyone into one
of just three groups, subsequent research on
a much larger sample of people was able to fold Ruminococcus
into Bacteroides, so now everyone fits into
one of just two groups. So now we know when it
comes to gut flora there are just two types
of people in the world: those that grow out
mostly Bacteroides, and those that overwhelmingly
are home to Prevotella species. The question is why?
It didn’t seem to matter where you lived, male or female,
how old or skinny you are. What matters is what you eat. This is what’s called a heat map. Each column is a different
grouping of bacteria and each row is
a food component. Red is like hot, meaning a close
correlation between the presence of this particular bacteria and lots
of that particular nutrient in the diet. Blue is like cold, meaning you’re way
off, a reverse correlation meaning lots of that nutrient is correlated with
very low levels of that bacteria in our gut. They looked at over a 100 different food
components and a theme started to arise. This column is Bacteroides, and
this column is Prevotella. Note how they’re
kind of opposites. When it comes to things like animal
fat, cholesterol, animal protein, Bacteriodes is red
and Prevotella is blue, and when it comes to plant
components like carbohydrates, Prevotella is red and
Bacteroides is blue. Here’s a simplified version, clearly
showing the components found more in animal foods
like protein and fat are associated with the Bacteroides
enterotpye, and those found almost exclusively in plant foods
are associated with Prevotella. So no surprise African Americans
fell into the Bacteroides enterotype, where most of the native
African’s were Prevotella. The reason this may matter is that
Bacteroides species are generally associated with increased risk of
colon cancer, our second leading cause of cancer death, yet almost
unheard of among native Africans. The differences in our gut flora
may help explain why Americans appear to have more than 50
times the rate of colon cancer.