Researchers at UC San Francisco have demonstrated that cooking food alters the microbiome of mice and humans. The importance of gut biome health in a variety of inflammatory conditions has spurred researchers into investigations of optimal gut-food interactions and their biomedical outcomes. Their research, published in Nature Microbiology, examined the impact of cooking food and the microbiome of mice.
Scientists partitioned feeding groups into raw meat, cooked meat, raw sweet potatoes, or cooked sweet potatoes. Raw vs cooked meat had no significant difference in gut microbiome, whereas raw and cooked sweet potatoes had a significant difference in microbiomes along with microbe gene activity patterns and metabolic products. To confirm these findings, researchers analyzed other vegetables including white potato, corn, peas, carrots, and beets.
Two key factors were observed based on microbial analysis. Cooked food permits more caloric uptake at the site of the small intestines which leads to more microbial feeding. Secondly, raw foods have potent antimicrobial compounds that would cause some damage to certain microbes. In order to investigate if these findings would translate to human test subjects, the team partnered with a Harvard graduate student, and professional chef, to conduct a 3-day controlled diet study. The study confirmed significantly different microbiomes in the human test subjects as well.