Can Fiber Help Gut Bacteria Fight Antibiotic Resistance?

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Eating more fiber may be the key to fewer antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the gut. Alba Vitta/Stocksy
  • Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet, and researchers are still discovering more about its importance.
  • Antibiotic resistance has become a growing problem in recent years, increasing the risk of serious disease in humans and limiting treatment options.
  • A recent study found that increasing fiber in the diet from various food sources can help reduce antibiotic resistance in the gut.

Antimicrobial Resistance is an increasing problem. It happens when microorganisms such as bacteria adapt in such a way that antibiotics cannot kill them. People can get more serious infections and illnesses as resistance to antibiotics increases. Experts are trying to understand why antibiotic resistance occurs and how to reduce it.

A study published in mBio investigated the influence of fiber on antimicrobial resistance.

Researchers found that a varied diet high in fiber was associated with lower levels of antimicrobial resistance in gut bacteria.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, fiber is a carbohydrate that the body does not digest properly. However, dietary fiber is essential for a healthy gut. There are two main species of fiber:

  • Soluble Dietary Fiber dissolves in water and provides a number of nutrients to the body.
  • Insoluble Dietary Fiber provides no nutrients but helps the body in other ways.

Fiber offers a variety health benefits to the body. For example, it helps clear up buildup in the gut, reducing the risk of colon cancer. All fiber types also help increase feelings of fullness, helping people consume the right amounts of nutrition.

However, the benefits of fiber may extend beyond the health benefits that experts have already discovered.

Antimicrobials are drugs that doctors use to treat infections caused by microorganisms. One of the most common examples is antibiotics, which doctors use to treat bacterial infections. Sometimes “antimicrobial” and “antibiotic” can be used interchangeably, according to the CDC

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria or other microorganisms adapt to become resistant to the effects of antibiotics.

The body is home to trillions of microbes or bacteria collectively known as the microbiome

In recent years, the problem of antibiotic resistance has increased, leading to serious illness and even death. Many groups and organizations have drawn attention to the problem, including the Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter Coalition. The group explained in a recent Facebook post

“A study in The Lancet recently found that of the 1.27 million deaths directly attributable to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in 2019, 73% were caused by just six pathogens. That is why it is so important that everyone is aware of AMR and takes steps to understand more about it and prevent it.”

However, there are many unknowns about the influence of diet on antimicrobial resistance, and this relationship researchers of the current study wanted to investigate.

In the study, researchers looked at the diets of more than 250 participants, as well as the genes of those participants’ gut microbiome. They specifically looked for antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs).

The study participants were healthy adults, ages 18 to 66, and the majority of the participants were white. The researchers saw that there was great diversity when it came to the composition and number of ARGs among this relatively small population.

Researchers collected data from participants, including diet, physical activity levels and blood samples. Participants provided stool samples so that researchers could examine the genetic makeup of the participants’ gut microbiome.

The researchers found that “individuals who ate different diets high in fiber and low in animal protein had fewer antibiotic resistance genes.”

Study author dr. Danielle G. Lemay explained their findings to Medical news today

“We found that people who consume more diverse diets with more soluble fiber have a lower number of antimicrobial resistance genes in their gut microbiome. Therefore, a varied diet high in soluble fiber may reduce the risk of an antibiotic-resistant infection.”
— Dr. Danielle G. Lemay

There are limitations to the current study. Due to his observational nature, he was unable to determine a cause and relied on self-reporting of nutritional data.

According to Dr. Lemay, more research is needed on the impact of animal proteins on ARG and to assess the impact of participants’ use of antibiotics or other treatments that may have contributed to the ARGs detected.

dr. Lemay further explained:

“In the study, we looked at people in a snapshot. What we need to do in the future is a study where we give people a varied diet, rich in soluble fiber, to see if we can reduce the antimicrobial resistance of their gut bacteria.”

But overall, the results of this study are encouraging because it links simple dieting steps to reducing health problems such as antimicrobial resistance.

If further research confirms these findings, it could shift dietary recommendations. In fact, as people change their diets, we may see a decrease in antimicrobial resistance.

#Fiber #Gut #Bacteria #Fight #Antibiotic #Resistance

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