Long-term dietary intake from infancy to late adolescence is associated with gut microbiota composition in young adulthood

Am J Clin Nutr. 2021 Jan 20;nqaa340. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa340. Online ahead of print.


Background: Gut microbiota composition as influenced by long-term diet may be associated with the risk of adult chronic diseases. Thus, establishing the relation of long-term diet, particularly starting from early life, with adult microbiota composition would be an important research advance.

Objective: We aimed to investigate the association of long-term intake of energy, carbohydrate, fiber, protein, and fat from infancy to late adolescence with microbiota composition in adulthood.

Methods: Within the prospective DOrtmund Nutritional and Anthropometric Longitudinally Designed (DONALD) Study, we sampled stool 1 or 2 times within 1 y from 128 adults (median age: 29 y). Microbiota composition was profiled by 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing. Annual dietary records from age 1 to 18 y were retrieved. We estimated trajectories of energy, energy-adjusted carbohydrate, fiber, protein, and fat intake with multilevel models, producing predicted intake at age 1 y and rates of change in intake. A multivariate, zero-inflated, logistic-normal model was used to model the association between intake trajectories and the composition of 158 genera in single-sampled individuals. Associations found in this model were confirmed in double-sampled individuals using a zero-inflated Beta regression model.

Results: Adjusting for covariates and temporal differences in microbiota composition, long-term carbohydrate intake was associated with 3 genera. Specifically, carbohydrate intake at age 1 y was negatively associated with Phascolarctobacterium [coefficient = -4.31; false discovery rate (FDR)-adjusted P = 0.006] and positively associated with Dialister (coefficient = 3.06; FDR-adjusted P = 0.003), and the rate of change in carbohydrate intake was positively associated with Desulfovibrio (coefficient = 13.16; FDR-adjusted P = 0.00039). Energy and other macronutrients were not associated with any genus.

Conclusions: This work links long-term carbohydrate intake to microbiota composition. Considering the associations of high carbohydrate intake and microbiota composition with some diseases, these findings could inform the development of gut microbiota-targeted dietary recommendations for disease prevention.

Keywords: 3-day weighed dietary records; DONALD study; Desulfovibrio; Dialister; Phascolarctobacterium; carbohydrate intake; gut microbiota composition; long-term diet.