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Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.00317

Assessing the influence of vegan, vegetarian and omnivore oriented westernized dietary styles on human gut microbiota: a cross sectional study

  • 1Food Safety/Risk Analysis and Public Health, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Italy
  • 2Istituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi (CNR), Italy
  • 3Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Diet and lifestyle have a strong influence on gut microbiota, which in turn has important implications on a variety of health-related aspects. Despite great advances in the field, it remains unclear to which extent the composition of the gut microbiota is modulated by the intake of animal derived products, compared to a vegetable based diet. Here the specific impact of vegan, vegetarian and omnivore dietary choicesfeeding type on the composition of gut microbiota of 101 adults was investigated among groups homogeneous for variables known to have a role in modulating gut microbial composition such as age, anthropometric variables, ethnicity and geographic area. The results displayed a picture where the three different dietetic profiles could be well distinguished on the basis of participant’s dietetic regimen. Regarding the gut microbiota; vegetarians had a significantly greater richness compared to omnivorous. Moreover, counts of Bacteroidetes related operational taxonomic units were greater in vegans and vegetarians compared to omnivores. Interestingly considering the whole bacterial community composition the three cohorts were unexpectedly similar. , which is probably due to their common intake in terms of nutrients rather than food, e.g. high fat content and reduced protein and carbohydrate intake. This finding suggests that fundamental nutritional choices such as vegan, vegetarian or omnivory do influence the microbiota but do not allow to infer conclusions on gut microbial composition, and suggested the possibility for a preferential impact of other variables, probably related to the general life style on shaping human gut microbial community in spite of dietary influence. Consequently, research were individuals are categorised on the basis of their claimed feeding types is of limited use for scientific studies, since it appears to be oversimplified.

Keywords: Gut microbiota (GM), Feeding type, Diet, Animal origin food, vegan, vegetarian, Omnivores

Received: 29 Nov 2017; Accepted: 09 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Maria De Angelis, Università degli studi di Bari Aldo Moro, Italy

Reviewed by:

Marius Vital, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, Germany
Alinne Castro, Professor, Brazil  

Copyright: © 2018 Losasso, Eckert, Mastrorilli, Villiger, Mancin, Patuzzi, Di Cesare, Cibin, Barrucci, Pernthaler, Corno and Ricci. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Carmen Losasso, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Food Safety/Risk Analysis and Public Health, viale dell'Università 10, Legnaro, 35020, Italy,