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Microbiome milkshakes: The story behind the study

 

By Thomas Gurry, Samuel Finlayson, Travis Hughes, and Travis Zack

In the spring of 2015, a couple of researchers at the recently launched MIT Center for Microbiome Informatics & Therapeutics (CMIT), including the Center’s co-director, Prof. Eric Alm, converged on a study design to better understand the impact of individual dietary micronutrients on gut microbiome composition.

The main difficulty we faced was finding a way to measure the effect of these micronutrients against a diet background that was identical in all study participants. After several iterations and discussions with nutritionists and other experts, we converged on using Ensure, a liquid nutritional meal replacement used in clinical contexts, as the sole source of nutrition during the study period. This would guarantee that the chemical composition of every participants’ diet was identical, and addressed one of the main concerns with previous microbiome-related diet studies.

Date: 
Saturday, December 1, 2018