Eating tomatoes may help boost gut health

AGE FOTOSTOCK

When it comes to improving gut health, diet experts often suggest trying out probiotic foods like yoghurt and kimchi.

Yet, there may be another food to add to that list - tomatoes.

According to researchers from Ohio State University, abiding by a diet heavy in the fruit may help increase the diversity of gut microbes.

In a study of young pigs, the team found that after eating a lot of tomatoes for two weeks, the animals had altered gut bacteria.

"It's possible that tomatoes impart benefits through their modulation of the gut microbiome," said senior author Jessica Cooperstone. "Overall dietary patterns have been associated with differences in microbiome composition, but food-specific effects haven't been studied very much. Ultimately we'd like to identify in humans what the role is of these particular microorganisms and how they might be contributing to potential health outcomes."

Looking to the future, Jessica and her colleagues want to undertake similar studies on people and seek out health-related links between tomatoes in the diet and changes to the human gut microbiome.

"We've characterised which microbes are present, and how their relative abundance has changed with this tomato intervention. To really understand the mechanisms, we need to do more of this kind of work in the long term in humans. We also want to understand the complex interplay - how does consuming these foods change the composition of what microbes are present, and functionally, what does that do?" she added.

Full study results have been published in the journal Microbiology Spectrum.