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Gut Bacteria and the Lacto Ovo Vegetarian Diet

Posted by Trudy Prevost on April 14, 2017

Traditionally the Lacto Ovo Vegetarian Diet has been promoted by yoga experts as the most healthy, non-violent, energy building, mind clearing diet you can adapt within the Yoga Lifestyle.

Rainbow Yoga promotes the fact there is no one healthy diet right for everyone but our research bias is towards the Lacto Ovo Vegetarian Diet.

For optimum wellness and health everyone has to find their own nutrient dense diet suitable for their bodies and their environments.

Research has shown chronic intestinal diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and colorectal cancer (CRC), have genetic, immunological, metabolic and a range of other causes but it also indicates that lifestyle and dietary habits may also have an important role in their origin and progression.

A recent study released in February 2017 by the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department of a well known University in Italy analyzed the fecal microbiota and gut toxicology of 29 healthy volunteers, from all over Italy.  The final goal was to describe the impact of  diet regimes on the composition of the fecal populations.

This study has shown interesting differences in the genotoxicity, cytotoxicity and bacterial composition of the feces of 3 different diets: Lacto Ovo Vegetarian (consume plants; dairy products and eggs); Vegan (consume plants only); and Omnivore (consume plants; dairy products; eggs and animals).

Cytotoxicity – is the quality of being toxic to cells.

Genotoxicity – the property of chemical agents that damages the genetic information within a cell causing mutations which may lead to cancer. While genotoxicity is often confused with mutagenicity, all mutagens are genotoxic, whereas not all genotoxic substances are mutagenic. The alteration can have direct or indirect effects on the DNA: the induction of mutations, mistimed event activation, and direct DNA damage leading to mutations. The permanent, heritable changes can affect either somatic cells of the organism or germ cells to be passed on to future generations. ~ Wikipedia

Bacterial Composition – the gut flora – in humans, the gut microbiota has the largest numbers of bacteria and the greatest number of species compared to other areas of the body.

Study Results:

Cytotoxicity: “The lacto-ovo-vegetarian habit, a less restrictive dietary pattern than the vegan one, was particularly effective in lowering the levels of both FW genotoxicity and cytotoxicity. “

  Genotoxicity: Our data clearly show that, despite the absence of substantial changes in the viable counts of the fecal bacteria, vegetarian and vegan diets can contribute in reducing the risk of DNA damage, as evaluated by Comet assay. FW genotoxicity of lacto-ovo-vegetarians was significantly lower than that of omnivores and vegans. Interestingly the levels found in vegans were not statistically different from those of omnivores.

Bacterial Composition: The average amount of total anaerobes in lacto-ovo-vegetarians was significantly lower compared to that in vegans and omnivores.

The population counts of corynebacteria and staphylococci in the omnivore group were higher than those of the other groups.

Vegans showed lower levels of bifidobacteria and mesophilic lactobacilli but the findings were not considered to be clinically significant.

Higher Bacteroides–Prevotella levels were found in vegans especially, but also in the lacto-ovo-vegetarian group,  compared to those observed in omnivores.

They concluded that
* the vegetarian diets herein considered, when compared to omnivore dietary habits, even if not showing drastic modifications of the viable fecal bacteria considered, seem able to affect the intestinal ecosystem activities related to fecal genotoxicity and cytotoxicity.
* the findings highlight the important role of the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet and, to a lesser extent of the vegan one, in reducing FW genotoxicity.
* the results of this study further support the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet potential role in gut health and in the protection from inflammatory bowel diseases and prevention of colorectal cancer.


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