The human intestinal tract harbors a complex ecosystem of commensal bacteria that play a fundamental role in the well-being of their host. There is a general consensus that diet rich in plant-based foods has many advantages in relation to the health and well-being of an individual. In adults, diets that have a high proportion of fruit and vegetables and a low consumption of meat are associated with a highly diverse microbiota and are defined by a greater abundance of Prevotella compared with Bacteroides, whereas the reverse is associated with a diet that contains a low proportion of plant-based foods. In a philosophical term, our consumption of processed foods, widespread use of antibiotics and disinfectants, and our modern lifestyle may have forever altered our ancient gut microbiome. We may never be able to identify or restore our microbiomes to their ancestral state, but dietary modulation to manipulate specific gut microbial species or groups of species may offer new therapeutic approaches to conditions that are prevalent in modern society, such as functional gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, and age-related nutritional deficiency. We believe that this will become an increasingly important area of health research.
“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.”