Diet and lifestyle shape microbiome health more than genetic factors

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In Israel, scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science concluded that diet and lifestyle are by far the most dominant factors shaping our microbiome composition and challenged the idea that our genes contribute to microbiome variations. Analyzing data from a large-scale study, they discovered that the host’s genetics play a very minor role in determining microbiome composition – only accounting for about 2 percent of the variation between populations.

The scientists investigated the connections between microbiome and the database of cholesterol, weight, blood glucose levels, and other clinical parameters. The study results were surprising: For most of these clinical measures, the association with bacterial genomes was at least as strong, and in some cases stronger, than the association with the host’s human genome.

According to the scientists, these findings provide solid evidence that understanding the factors that shape our microbiome may be key to understanding and treating many common health problems.