The team hopes to go on to human studies once they have observed these findings from a short-term intervention, where they will be searching for health-related correlations between tomatoes in the diet and alterations to the human gut flora.
David Francis, a plant breeder and tomato geneticist at Ohio State and co-author on this work, produced the variety of tomato utilized in the study, which is the one most commonly found in canned tomato products.
Ten newly weaned piglets served as a control group were given a standard diet, while ten pigs served as a test group were given a standard diet with a freeze-dried powder manufactured from tomatoes substituted for 10% of the food.
Both diets contained the same amount of calories, fat, protein, and fiber. Separate housing was provided for the study and control groups of pigs, and scientists spent as little time with the pigs as possible. These measures were used to eliminate confounding variables and ascribe any observed microbiome alterations with the research diet to chemicals in the tomatoes.
Fecal samples were collected from the pigs before the trial began, and then again seven and 14 days after the food was introduced.
Shotgun metagenomics was employed by the team to sequence all microbial DNA in the samples. The microbiomes of swine given the tomato-heavy diet exhibited two key variations: a rise in the diversity of microbe species in their intestines, and a decrease in the concentrations of two kinds of bacteria prevalent in the mammal microbiome.
The previous study has linked the intake of tomatoes with a lower risk for the development of different illnesses, including cardiovascular disease and several malignancies, and tomatoes make up around 22 percent of vegetable intakes in Western diets. We need more long-term studies like this one in humans to fully grasp the underlying mechanisms.