The composition of your gut microbiota is the result of lifestyle and environmental factors rather than genetics.
This was the published finding of scientists from Weizmann Institute in Israel, after studying and comparing the microbiome of more than 1,000 healthy individuals with diverse ancestries – some of whom were genetically related and others who were unrelated yet lived in the same home(1).
Less Than Two Percent Of Your Microbiome Is A Result Of Genetics
The microbiome, which is the community of healthy and unhealthy bacteria that reside in your intestinal tract and throughout your body, is overwhelmingly influenced by diet and lifestyle choices, according to these researchers and others.
Of the participants in the study, researchers discovered that unrelated individuals who lived in the same home shared “significant similarities” in the composition of their microbiome. At the same time, individuals who were related and shared the same DNA, yet did not live together, often had little in common in regard to their microbiome. In fact, the scientists estimate that less than two percent of our microbiome is actually inherited, after reviewing studies of twins.
Nationality Has Little To Do With Gut Bacteria
Furthermore, the study revealed that ancestry and nationality have little to do with the species and number of bacteria in the microbiome.
To confirm their findings, researchers conducted a second cohort study of 836 participants in a completely different part of the world and received identical results.
Your Microbiome Determines Your Health And Weight
So, why is this a big deal?
Because the scientists also determined that microbiota composition can predict our likelihood of developing diseases and our inability to maintain a healthy weight. The number of bacteria and species type correlates with health and disease indicators such as fasting glucose levels, body mass index, HDL cholesterol levels, waist to hip ratio, waist circumference and others.
Participants in the study with specific types and levels of bacteria were at greater risk of health and weight issues leading researchers to conclude that obesity and disease risk can be mitigated by manipulating the human microbiome with diet, exercise, and avoidance of detrimental environmental factors.
- Rothschild, Daphna, Omer Weissbrod, Elad Barkan, Tal Korem, David Zeevi, Paul Igor Costea, Anastasia Godneva, Iris Nati Kalka, Noam Bar, Niv Zmora, Meirav Pevsner-Fischer, David Israeli, Noa Kosower, Gal Malka, Bat Chen Wolf, Tali Avnit-Sagi, Maya Lotan-Pompan, Adina Weinberger, Zamir Halpern, Shai Carmi, Eran Elinav, and Eran Segal. “Environmental Factors Dominate over Host Genetics in Shaping Human Gut Microbiota Composition.” February 28, 2018. doi:10.1101/150540.