The food we eat likely affects our risk of infection. Our diet choices alter microbial communities in our intestine, which in turn naturally resist pathogens that we ingest. Still, we do not know precisely which aspects of diet shape our susceptibility to pathogens and how the effects of nutrition on infection risk vary across different people. Here, we are studying these questions by combining new approaches for tracking our diets, measuring how gut microbiota digest our food, and recreating microbial ecosystems in the human intestine. Using these tools, we are performing experiments that answer three general questions: What foods promote pathogen resistance? Who should eat those foods? And, how often? Tools and ideas that emerge from these experiments will be suited for future tests in people at risk of bacterial infection in the gut.
This work is supported by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.