Trillions of bacteria live in each person's digestive tract. Scientists believe that some of these bacteria help digest food and stave off harmful infections, but their role in human health is not well understood.
Analysis of this data revealed that dietary changes could produce daily variations in the populations of different strains of bacteria. For example, an increase in fiber correlated with a boost in the populations of Bifidobacteria, Roseburia, and Eubacterium rectale. Four strains - including Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, which has been implicated in protecting against inflammatory bowel disease - were correlated with eating citrus.
The ultimate goal, Alm says, is to generate data from individual patients that could be analyzed to produce a personalized monitoring system for people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease or other diseases prone to occasional flare-ups. Such a system could detect when someone is heading for a flare-up and recommend dietary changes that could help avoid it.