People’s saliva is heavily influenced by the nutritional content of food, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. This research is in the October issue of PLOS ONE.
“If you’re a hunter-gatherer, you probably know the importance of nutrition and SOD [sugar consumption], where 100 pounds of food is exchanged for 100 pounds of thirsty, acidic water, ” said lead author Simone Rucci, M. D., vice president and university medical director at The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “But what surprised us was that the canary in the coal mine makes two cents. “
Rucci, from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said this discovery is of great interest because it could revolutionize our knowledge of oral health. “Many people do not realize how much of an influence saliva has on host energy metabolism. These sugars are thought to be essential for human growth, energy balance and brain health, but they appear to play an important role in a variety of infectious diseases including hepatitis C and HIV, ” said Dr. Rucci.
Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the research team studied saliva collection from 29 healthy people, aged 19 to 81 years, as part of the DEFINATE cohort study that included NIH funding to examine the relationship between oral health, food consumption, and gut microbes.
Eleven participants were assigned to a low-fat or high-fat diet (19 percent change each group). Eleven were assigned a high-fat diet (5 percent change) followed by a cliff to determine when they each moved to a high-fat diet.
The two groups sat on opposite sides of the fork to consume bland meals. “We used the enzyme lactose amylase to trace the lactose out of participants. The lactose, or barium, is a sugar produced by bacteria in the digestive tract, ” Rucci said. “This tells us the human gut microbiome was compensated for the high and low diets. “
After six weeks, all the participants found it difficult to pass the lactose on to someone else. They were more likely to pass on the HCs when the chow was not like typical American food. “This may help health professionals provide this population with a little more of their typical daily intake, or even enable them to avoid extended public feeding days, ” she said.
Until now, the researchers did not have a clear understanding of how the sweet tooth works. By identifying which bacteria defend against processed foods, Rucci said, these findings have potential implications. “We think we’ll be able to find new ways to keep toothbrushing sugar free and allow the teeth in the gut to chew much more freely, ” she said.