Published in Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School looked at colonic hydrogen sulfide — a toxic gas in the body that smells like rotten eggs — production in people in response to animal- and plant-based diet interventions.
“Although the role of hydrogen sulfide has long been a subject of great interest in the pathogenesis of multiple important diseases — such as ulcerative colitis, colon cancer, and obesity — past investigations have not been able to link dietary data, microbiome characterization, and actual hydrogen sulfide production,” said Alexander Khoruts, MD, a gastroenterologist in the U of M Medical School and M Health Fairview. “This is what we have done here.”
From a human cohort, the study supports the general hypothesis that hydrogen sulfide produced by the gut microbiota increases with an animal-based diet. However, the results also suggested the existence of gut microbiome enterotypes that respond differentially and even paradoxically to different dietary inputs.
The study found that:
“The study was consistent with the general understanding that regular intake of fiber-containing foods is beneficial to gut health,” said Dr. Levi Teigen, a nutrition researcher in the Division of Gastroenterology at the U of M Medical School. “Future analyses of the gut microbiome may help to individualize nutrition interventions.”