Researchers at Utah State University are working hard to map the digestive tract’s ecosystem.

Utah State University is moving forward with further research into the different types of bacteria that live in our digestive system & how the foods we eat impact them. The study, called “Gut Check”, will be inviting residents of Cache County in Utah to participate. Participants help by answering a health survey, getting basic blood tests, keeping a detailed food diary(including pictures) for 4 days & then finally submitting a stool sample. In return they get free lab work & $20 buckaroos. The bacteria within the stool sample will be genetically analyzed to find out what type it is. Once all the stool samples are analyzed the data will then be reviewed looking for relationships between food eaten & the bacteria present.

This research is similar to the “Gut Type” research which was published earlier this year by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. Their research found that everyone has 1 of only 3 different types of bacterial ecosystems or “enterotypes” living within them. Different gut types or bacteria may play a part in things like Diabetes, Obesity, Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome as well as other illnesses.

The USU researchers are looking more closely plant compounds called ‘polyphenols’ & their effect on the digestive track. They have seen results from mice where a specific plant extract(unnamed) enhances metabolism & thus weight loss. If the results scaled to humans this could mean the different between 15 – 20lbs per year.

Results from this “Gut Check” study should be available around the Fall of this year. The results will cover about 80 participants, but there are plans to possibly increase this number to 100+ afterwards.