How Omega-3 and Punicic Acid Improve Gut Health Affected by a Western Diet

Jenn Hoskins
18th May, 2024

How Omega-3 and Punicic Acid Improve Gut Health Affected by a Western Diet

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers from Universidade Católica Portuguesa found that combining Fish oil and Pomegranate oil can improve gut microbiota altered by a Western diet
  • The oil mixture increased the diversity of gut bacteria, which is linked to better health outcomes
  • The oils also boosted beneficial bacteria and increased levels of health-promoting short-chain fatty acids and neurotransmitter precursors, potentially benefiting metabolic and mental health
The influence of gut microbiota on metabolic diseases has garnered significant attention in recent years. The Western diet (WD), marked by high sugar and fat intake, is known to alter the composition and diversity of gut microbiota, contributing to various health issues such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. A recent study from Universidade Católica Portuguesa has investigated the potential of polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically Fish oil (rich in omega-3) and Pomegranate oil (rich in punicic acid), in modulating gut microbiota and counteracting the adverse effects of the WD[1]. This study builds on existing knowledge that diet plays a crucial role in shaping gut microbiota, which in turn influences metabolic health. Previous research has shown that Western diets can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, leading to reduced microbial diversity and a shift in bacterial populations, which are linked to metabolic and inflammatory diseases[2]. The study aimed to explore whether the combination of Fish oil and Pomegranate oil could restore the gut microbiota altered by a WD. Researchers conducted in vitro fecal fermentations using cecal samples from rats fed either a control diet (CD) or a high-fat high-sugar diet (WD). They employed 16S amplicon metagenomics sequencing to analyze the changes in gut microbiota composition. The findings revealed that the mixture of Fish oil and Pomegranate oil increased the α-diversity of gut microbiota in the WD group. This indicates a richer and more varied microbial community, which is generally associated with better health outcomes. The study also observed an increase in the relative abundance of the Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes phyla, as well as specific beneficial bacteria such as Akkermansia and Blautia, which were negatively impacted by the WD. These bacteria are known to play roles in maintaining gut health and metabolic functions. These results align with earlier findings that suggest a healthy microbiome consists of a diverse and balanced microbial community[3]. Moreover, the study demonstrated that all oil samples increased the concentrations of butyrate and acetate in the WD group. Butyrate and acetate are short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) produced by gut bacteria during the fermentation of dietary fibers. SCFAs are crucial for maintaining gut health, regulating inflammation, and providing energy to colon cells. This finding supports previous research indicating that the gut microbiota can influence energy balance and metabolic health through the production of SCFAs[4]. In addition to SCFAs, the study found that the mixture of Fish oil and Pomegranate oil increased tyrosine concentrations, a precursor for the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, and GABA, an important neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood and anxiety. These results suggest that the oil mixture may have a positive impact on the gut-brain axis, potentially influencing mental health and cognitive functions. This study provides new insights into the potential of using specific dietary oils to modulate gut microbiota and counteract the negative effects of a Western diet. It highlights the importance of diet in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome and suggests that combining Fish oil and Pomegranate oil could be a promising strategy to restore microbial balance and improve metabolic and mental health. The findings also underscore the complexity of interactions between diet, gut microbiota, and host health, and pave the way for future research to explore the therapeutic potential of dietary interventions in preventing and managing metabolic diseases[5].



Main Study

1) The use of an in vitro fecal fermentation model to uncover the beneficial role of omega-3 and punicic acid in gut microbiota alterations induced by a Western diet.

Published 17th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) The changing microbial landscape of Western society: Diet, dwellings and discordance.

3) The healthy human microbiome.

4) A core gut microbiome in obese and lean twins.

5) Gut microbiota in obesity.

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