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Differences Found Between Female, Male Gut Bacteria

Update Date: Jul 29, 2014 07:02 PM EDT

New research reveals that male and female gut microbes react differently to diet. The study revealed that this sex difference exists even when the diets are the same.

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin said that the latest findings suggest that treatments to boost human health and treat diseases through nutrition should be modified for each sex.

After analyzing the gut microbes in two species of fish and mice, researchers found that diet affected the microbiota of males and females differently in fish and humans.

Researchers explained that different species of microbes would dominate depending on sex, and the diversity of bacteria would be higher in one sex than the other.

"Our study asks not just how diet influences the microbiome, but it splits the hosts into males and females and asks, do males show the same diet effects as females?" lead study author Daniel Bolnick, professor in The University of Texas at Austin's College of Natural Sciences, said in a news release.

"To guide people's behavior, we need to know what microbes are desirable for people," said Bolnick.

"Diet and sex do interact to influence the microbes, but we don't yet know what a desirable target for microbes is. Now we can go in with eyes open when we work on therapies for gut microbe problems, as many involve dietary changes. We can walk into those studies looking for something we weren't aware of before. All along we treated diet as if it works the same for men and women. Now we'll be approaching studies of therapies in a different way," he added.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications

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