Scientists from Agricultural Research Service found that healthy adults who eat a diverse diet with at least 8-10 grams of soluble fiber a day have fewer antibiotic-resistant microbes in their guts.
The research is published in mBio and was conducted by Danielle Lemay et al.
Microbes that have resistance to various commonly used antibiotics such as tetracycline and aminoglycoside are a big source of risk for people worldwide.
Antimicrobial resistance in people is largely based in their gut microbiome, where the microbes are known to carry genetically encoded strategies to survive contact with antibiotics.
In this study, the team examined specific associations of the levels of antibiotic resistance genes in the microbes of the human gut with both fiber and animal protein in adult diets.
They found regularly eating a diet with higher levels of fiber and lower levels of protein, especially from beef and pork, was strongly linked to lower levels of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARG) among their gut microbes.
Those with the lowest levels of ARG in their gut microbiomes also had a greater abundance of strict anaerobic microbes, which are bacteria that do not thrive when oxygen is present and are a hallmark of a healthy gut with low inflammation.
The team also found 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.
This suggests that people should eat from diverse sources of foods that tend to be higher in soluble fiber for maximum benefit.
Soluble fiber, as its name suggests, dissolves in water and is the main type of fiber found in grains like barley and oats; legumes like beans, lentils and peas, seeds (like chia seeds) and nuts; and some fruits and vegetables like 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 much less diverse gut microbiomes compared to groups with low and medium levels of ARG.
The team says dietary interventions may be useful in lessening the burden of antimicrobial resistance and might ultimately motivate dietary guidelines that will consider how nutrition could reduce the risk of antibiotic-resistant infections.
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