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Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
Department of Food Science and Nutrition

PI: Daniel J. O'Sullivan

Effect of a High Protein Diet on the Human Gut Microbiome

The obesity epidemic throughout the developed world has been increasing for decades and is a major healthcare concern. Mice studies have pointed to the gut microbiome as one factor in obesity, with obese mice exhibiting a significantly greater number of genes in their microbiome associated with energy extraction from foods. Human diets to address weight loss are varied and while many result in weight loss, the results are frequently temporary. A very popular, but controversial diet is the high-protein low-carbohydrate diet, often referred to as the Atkins diet. While diet is believed to influence the gut microbiota, its precise effects on the gut microbiome are unclear. Understanding this interaction should enable a better prediction of the long-term success and health of a dietary approach, especially with unbalanced diets such as the high protein diet. The hypothesis of this research is that changing ones diet to a high protein/fat content with minimum carbohydrates will change the microbiome to reflect this. This proposed new microbiota balance is currently unknown, but should be evaluated to determine if the changes are significant and more consistent with an obese versus lean one. The goal of this research is to evaluate this in one human individual to establish the validity of this hypothesis. The proposed approach is to utilize a deep sequencing metagenomic analysis utilizing the Illumina short read technology. It is proposed to use two samples to address this hypothesis. The first sample will be a fecal sample following adherence to a typical high carbohydrate vegetarian diet with minimum protein/fat for four days and a second sample will be obtained following adherence to a high protein/fat diet with minimum carbohydrates for four days.