Food

Mathematical model that predicts gut changes could help design effective diets

Combining maths and gut bacteria could be the best way to design diets that prevent chronic health conditions in the future, Swedish researchers have said.

A team from the Chalmers University of Technology say that applying a mathematical model to the interaction of gut bacteria could design new probiotics and specially tailored diets for people.

Lead researcher Professor Jens Nielsen, Professor of Systems Biology at Chalmers, said: “Intestinal bacteria have an important role to play in health and the development of diseases, and our new mathematical model could be extremely helpful in these areas.”

The findings of this study were based on published research papers which had looked at regular health monitoring in both children and adults.

Each change was compared to predictions that had been made from their mathematical model which proved to be highly accurate. It had even predicted how the babies’ intestinal bacterial composition would change once they were weaned off milk and onto solid food.

Professor Nielsen said: “These are very encouraging results, which could enable computer-based design for a very complex system. Our model could therefore be used to for creating personalised healthy diets, with the possibility to predict how adding specific bacteria as novel probiotics could impact a patient’s health.

“The model we have developed is unique because it accounts for all these variables. It combines data on the individual bacteria as well as how they interact. It also includes data on how food travels through the gastrointestinal tract and affects the bacteria along the way in its calculations.

“The latter can be measured by examining blood samples and looking at metabolites, the end products that are formed when bacteria break down different types of food.”

The findings have been published in the journal PNAS.

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