The Microbiome: Food, Fiber, and Fitness

The Broad Institute
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This lesson explores how food choices and the environment affect the gut microbiome ecosystem in humans. Written for direct student access as a Google Site, this lesson can be used for in person, hybrid, or online education.

In this lesson, students participate in two online simulations. In the first, students are randomly assigned a starting microbiome and experience random disruptions to that microbiome. Students collect data and conduct an “assay” for butyrate-producing microbes. After learning about the role of butyrate and other factors that positively impact their microbiomes, students then repeat the simulation by choosing their starting microbiome and impacts to that microbiome. Lastly, students analyze data from a study comparing metabolites from healthy controls to people with type 2 diabetes.

Student learn:

  • A healthy gut microbiome is a diverse, complex ecosystem.
  • The foods we eat feed our microbiomes, and our microbiomes thrive on fiber.
  • Diet can affect our microbiomes in ways that can increase or decrease the likelihood of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

This lesson is part of the GEMNet Type 2 Diabetes Lesson Series.

Genome Sciences Education Outreach interviews Dr. Cecilia Noecker about the Microbiome. Dr. Noecker was influential in the development of the SEPA funded Type 2 Diabetes Lesson: Microbiome, Food, Fiber, and Fitness.

Resource Contact:
Griswold, Joan C – MIT