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Gut 63:5-6 doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2013-304969
  • Commentary

Western lifestyle: a ‘master’ manipulator of the intestinal microbiota?

  1. Georgina L Hold
  1. Correspondence to Dr Georgina L Hold, Division of Applied Medicine, Institute of Medical Sciences, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Aberdeen University, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK; g.l.hold{at}abdn.ac.uk
  • Received 6 May 2013
  • Revised 13 May 2013
  • Accepted 14 May 2013
  • Published Online First 5 June 2013
Keywords

There is growing awareness that lifestyle and life choices have a profound impact on the pathophysiology of many diseases. This is especially true in Western countries where diet-related chronic diseases are the single largest cause of morbidity and mortality, afflicting >50% of the adult population. These changes have happened relatively recently, beginning with the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry around 10 000 years ago, meaning we are currently existing within a state of evolutionary discordance; our genome has, as yet, failed to adapt in response to the rapid change in its environment.1 A dietary pattern based on consumption of red meat, animal fat, high sugar and low fibre foods, along with a sedentary lifestyle, is common in Western society. The process of diet westernisation is becoming increasingly apparent in other regions across the world, meaning that the current epidemic is potentially still in its infancy.

Lifestyle choices, including dietary habits, play a pivotal role in shaping the microbiota of the human gut. These effects are evident from birth, where mode of delivery and choice of feeding modality, breast or bottle, clearly influences initial gut colonisation, which in turn, defines the establishment of the stable gut microbiota.2 The control of infectious diseases through improved sanitation, introduction of antibiotics and …


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