Meet Gutty, your precious microbiome

Today, modern lifestyles are putting the health of our guts under threat like never before, in part due to our unbalanced diets and lifestyle choices. Scientists and health care professionals believe that better understanding gut health has the potential to transform the lives of millions of people.

Everyone has a gut microbiome – trillions of bacteria living in their gut – which need to be nourished daily. The gut is a cornerstone of health, yet our diets are too often impoverished in foods known to feed our gut microbiome such as fruits, vegetables, fermented foods such as dairy and plant based that bring nutrients and substances such as fibers, probiotics and prebiotics. 

To better understand the best ways of nourishing our gut, scientists from Danone Nutricia Research and the Center for Microbiome Innovation (CMI) at the University of California San Diego decided to team up with citizen scientists around the world. The Human Diets & Microbiome Initiative (THDMI) – largest international microbiome citizen science program –aims to discover the best diets and foods on the planet that can nourish our guts, by using the latest sequencing technology.

We believe citizen science belongs to everyone and, as such, the data generated will be open and available to any researcher. This way everyone can join our effort to understand the connection between the diet and the gut microbiome.

Bringing health through the gut

As science around the link between the gut microbiome and diet is booming, it requires different types of expertise. Partnerships are therefore key to advance nutrition-based innovations. Our partnership with UC San Diego is an opportunity to change the way we do science, from science for scientists to science for people. We want to put consumers and citizen scientists at the center of innovation to shape our “Health through Gut” strategy.

To mark 100 years since the creation of our first Danone yogurt in 1919, we are engaging in open science through this THDMI initiative, and by opening our historical collection of 1,800 strains to researchers around the world to help us progress towards a healthier and more sustainable world. Both are important steps in Danone’s commitment to open science, our 2030 Goals and objective to serve the food revolution with partners.

Our partnership will allow us to engage hundreds of citizen scientists from around the world in the gut microbiome revolution, described as ‘the next frontier in healthcare’. Because of the high variability in the gut microbiome composition between individuals, we need big data through recruitment of several cohorts across all geographical regions to enable a full mapping of the gut microbiome and measure the effect of diet. Most importantly, unlike other similar initiatives, this program is using cutting edge techniques, the latest sequencing technology, to assess the gut microbiome composition.

According to Liliana Jimenez, Innovation, Science & Nutrition Director at Danone Nutricia Research, “This program builds on 30 years of research into gut health led by Danone and will be a key pillar in delivering our ambition to bring health through food to as many people as possible.  We believe that science belongs to people - this initiative will give people the opportunity to become citizen scientists and to contribute to the health through gut revolution.”

You too can be a citizen scientist & meet your own Gutty

Our little animated gut, Gutty, will let everyone know about the importance of the gut microbiome for health.

As a citizen scientist, you will be able to provide a stool sample, which will be used to analyze your gut microbiome composition, and complete a questionnaire about your diet and lifestyle. This will enable us to know how your microbiome compares to others, and most importantly learn how your diet and lifestyle may shape your gut microbiome.

Participants in the THDMI program will have the opportunity to get their microbiome sequenced for free, contributing to the advancement of microbiome science. All the data will be anonymized ensuring the participant’s privacy and confidentiality before being added to the Microsetta open database which is accessible by the scientific community around the world.

The THDMI program is a unique opportunity to become a citizen scientist! Today, we plan to recruit 500 citizen scientists, first in the US, and then expand to new regions over the upcoming years. Perhaps your country will be the next one to participate!

Pre-register as a citizen scientist now so that we can get back to you quickly once the THDMI program becomes available in your country.