Researchers aim to discover microbiome’s role in personalized nutrition

May 24th, 2021

Personalized nutrition has emerged in recent years as a key potential solution to a variety of diseases that originate in the gut, and Nebraska scientists are mining microbiome data to determine how individuals’ digestive systems might respond to different nutritional approaches.

Ultimately, these findings could help scientists and doctors recommend specific types of foods — say, yogurts — to individuals to nurture beneficial bacteria in their guts and stave off diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

Yanbin Yin, associate professor of food science at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, has received a four-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue his research. Yin’s lab develops computational models and informatics tools to identify carbohydrate-active enzymes — CAZymes — in the gut microbiome that can build, modify and break down various complex carbohydrates. These CAZymes are made by our gut bacteria to fully digest fibers in our diets. Bacterial digestion of these fibers produces metabolites, such as short-chain fatty acids, that have a significant influence on their human hosts’ health, Yin said.

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Story by Dan Moser | Research and Economic Development