Background: Like all healthy ecosystems, richness of microbiota species characterizes the GI microbiome in healthy individuals. Conversely, a loss in species diversity is a common finding in several disease states. This biome is flooded with energy in the form of undigested and partially digested foods, and in some cases drugs and dietary supplements. Each microbiotic species in the biome transforms that energy into new molecules, which may signal messages to physiological systems of the host.
Scope of review: Dietary choices select substrates for species, providing a competitive advantage over other GI microbiota. The more diverse the diet, the more diverse the microbiome and the more adaptable it will be to perturbations. Unfortunately, dietary diversity has been lost during the past 50 years and dietary choices that exclude food products from animals or plants will narrow the GI microbiome further.
Major conclusion: Additional research into expanding gut microbial richness by dietary diversity is likely to expand concepts in healthy nutrition, stimulate discovery of new diagnostics, and open up novel therapeutic possibilities.
Keywords: Agrobiodiversity; Dietary diversity; FDA, Food and Drug Administration; FODMAP, fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols; FXR, farnesoid X receptor; GI, gastrointestinal; GIMM, GI microbiome modulator; GLP-I, glucagon-like peptide-1; GLUT, glucose transporter; Gastrointestinal; HMP, Human Microbiome Project; MCFA, medium chain fatty acids; MetaHIT, Metagenomics project of the Human Intestinal Tract; Microbiome; Microbiota; Microbiota richness; NIH, National Institutes of Health; PYY, peptide YY; RYGB, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass; SCFA, short chain fatty acid; SGLTs, sodium–glucose cotransporter; TMA, trimethylamine; TMAO, trimethylamine-N-oxide; VSG, vertical sleeve gastrectomy.