The influence of diet, gut microbiome and genetics on blood and health

Your gut microbiome, eating habits and genes have a major influence on the quantities and composition of the metabolites in your blood, and therefore on your health. That is what researchers from the University Medical Center Groningen reveal today in Nature Medicine. 'The insights from this research can help to develop treatments that improve the composition of the blood through changes in diet and interventions that affect the gut microbiome,' explains Professor Jingyuan Fu.
Picture of Jingyuan Fu

Your blood contains thousands of small molecules – metabolites – that play an important role in the functioning of your body. These substances in the blood plasma provide a lot of information about your health. Some metabolites are increased or decreased in certain diseases, others increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases or kidney disease. In this study, the researchers mapped out how the amounts of these metabolites differ with differences in diet, gut microbiome and genetics.

The study was conducted using data from 1368 individuals who participate in the large northern Dutch study Lifelines. The researchers looked at their eating habits, genetic composition, the composition of their intestinal flora and the metabolites present in their blood. For 311 people, there was also information collected again after four years that could be compared with the earlier measurements.

The study shows that the composition of blood metabolites differs substantially per person, with blood composition seemingly more influenced by diet and the gut microbiome than by genetics. This is interesting because it suggests that changes in the gut microbiome or in eating habits could play a role in modifying the metabolites in blood, and thus in the prevention and treatment of disease. This study contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between diet, gut microbiome and blood composition so that increasingly personalized treatments can be developed to fit an individual’s characteristics and habits.