Critical Microbiome, Diet and Health Research Gaps and Recommendations

  • Current studies of the microbiota composition have been conducted on relatively small populations.  Thus, there remains a need to understand population-level diversity across various age groups, cultural and ethnic groups, geographic locations, health status, and dietary/lifestyle habits.
  • Dietary interventions aimed at improving health through manipulating one’s microbiota have often been short-term.  Hence, the effects of modifications on long-term health are unknown.  Long-term longitudinal studies are needed to understand the effect of pre- and probiotics on gut microbiota and health.
  • Identification and/or development of ingredients and/or components that promote beneficial gut microbiota and thus human health will aid in designing personalized and/or therapeutic diets.
  • Training next generation of food scientists should include cross-disciplinary instruction, research on the microbiome, and its manipulation through diet to promote beneficial microbiota.
  • An understanding of how indigenous microbiota varies across the population, and how it correlates with specific microbial functions, will help in the development of personalized nutrition and medicine.
  • Understanding the resilience of the gut microbiota in the face of external disturbances (e.g. antibiotics) is critical for determining the design and efficacy of therapeutic diets that would return the microbial community to its basal state.
  • An examination of the correlation between circulatory metabolites that are produced or otherwise transformed by gut microbiota with microbial population structure, and more importantly, markers of health is needed.