The influence of protein source on gut microbiome

A study published in the latest edition of The Journal of Nutrition found that a soy diet contributed to a more diverse microbiota than a diet from milk protein sources.

The study, conducted by Elaine Krul, Ph.D., Senior Technical Fellow, DuPont Nutrition & Health, is one of few to evaluate the impact of protein source on the composition of the gut microbiota and provides insight on how including soy protein in the diet can further support cardiometabolic health. .

“It has been suggested that increased microbial diversity in the gut microbiome is a marker of cardiometabolic health, where individuals with low richness have a higher incidence of dyslipidemia, adiposity, weight gain, insulin resistance and inflammation,” said Krul. “Adding lean, high-quality plant proteins such as soy to the diet could be a good strategy for individuals seeking products to support health and wellness goals, including weight management with added cardiometabolic benefits.”

In the study, titled “Soy Protein Compared with Milk Protein in a Western Diet Increases Gut Microbial Diversity and Reduces Serum Lipids in Golden Syrian Hamsters,” diets mimicking the composition of a typical Western human diet containing either milk protein isolate or one of three differently processed DuPont Danisco soy proteins were investigated for their effects on blood cardiometabolic measures, microbiota composition in different sections of the gut, and expression of genes in the liver that are involved in lipid metabolism. The study was conducted in hamsters, an appropriate model for human cholesterol metabolism. The soy-fed hamsters had a more diverse microbiota than those fed the milk diet. Gut microbiota profiles from all soy-fed groups were more similar to each other and showed significant differences in abundance of several key microbial families compared to those in the milk-fed group.

In addition, significant reductions in the concentrations of total cholesterol, triglycerides and atherogenic lipoprotein particles were observed with consumption of soy protein compared to milk protein diets. This adds to the existing evidence supporting the beneficial effects of soy protein to reduce cholesterol and improve fatty acid metabolism.

While DuPont Nutrition & Health has been active over the years in examining the role probiotics play in promoting a healthy microbiome, this is the first study the company has supported that explored the role that protein may play in that regard. “The heart health benefits of soy protein are well-established through numerous clinical and preclinical studies. These results provide insight on how including soy protein in the diet can further support cardiometabolic health through modifying the composition of the microbiome,” added Krul.

DuPont Nutrition & Health continues to explore the impact of changes to the composition of the microbiome and how that impacts health and wellness.  This will help to meet the increasing market interest in incorporating probiotics into protein-containing foods, particularly protein supplements and dry beverages.

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