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Assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen, Henrik Munch Roager, PhD, discusses a number of interesting topics in his area of expertise: the role of gut microbiota in nutrition and health.

On this episode, you’ll discover:

  • What effect a Mediterranean diet vs meat-heavy diet has on the metabolites produced in the human gut
  • How a small capsule can be designed to collect samples from specific regions throughout the human GI tract
  • What Dr. Roager thinks might be at play in personalized responses to diet (i.e. why would one person’s response to a diet differ from another person’s response to the same diet?)

When investigating the ways in which diet affects the microbiome, most scientists analyze the composition of microbes in the gut. Dr. Roager is moving beyond this by looking at the activity of microbes in the gut through metabolomics, the study of metabolites produced by the gut.

In Dr. Roager’s opinion, the study of these small molecules is key to moving the whole microbiome research field forward. His work is focused primarily on human intervention and cohort studies, where his task is to use mass spectrometry to measure the metabolites in stool, blood, and urine samples in order to detect changes or patterns that occur in correlation with dietary interventions.

Dr. Roager shares the findings of past research, including a study that looked at the effect of a whole grain versus refined grain diet on the gut microbiome in overweight but otherwise relatively healthy Danish adults, as well as a Mediterranean diet intervention in which meats were largely replaced by nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

He explains the challenge inherent in human intervention studies looking at gut microbiota and nutrition, what type of work is being done by other researchers in an attempt to noninvasively collect samples for analysis from different places in the GI tract, the important role of short chain fatty acids and other groups of metabolites in the human body, and his research goals for the near future, which include looking at personalized responses to diet and nutrition, as well as the gut microbiome in infants.

Tune in for the full conversation and follow Dr. Roager on Twitter at @HRoager.

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