According to a new study, plant-based foods can transmit antibiotic resistance to the microbes living in your gut. Now, this is scary news. Antibiotic-resistant infections are a threat to global public health, food safety, and economic burden.
It is important to understand how these antibiotic-resistant bacteria and their genes are transmitted to mean and plant-based foods. Understand it can be beneficial in preventing these infections. The research team of the study said plant foods serve as a mode for transmitting antibiotic resistance to the gut microbiome. “Our findings highlight the importance of tackling foodborne antibiotic-resistance from a complete food chain perspective that includes plant-foods in addition to meat,” said Marlene Maeusli, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Southern California in the US.
For the study, the research team developed a novel, lettuce-mouse model system that did not cause immediate illness to mimic the consumption of superbugs with plant-foods. The team also grew lettuce and exposed it to antibiotic-resistant E coli and fed it to the mice to analyse their faecal samples over time.
“We found differences in the ability of bacteria to silently colonise the gut after ingestion, depending on a variety of host and bacterial factors,” said Maeusli. “We mimicked antibiotic and antacid treatments, as both could affect the ability of superbugs to survive the passage from the stomach to the intestines,” she said.
Exposure to one type of antibiotic did not increase the ability of superbugs to hide in the mouse intestines, whereas a second antibiotic resulted in stable gut colonisation after ingestion. Ingestion of bacteria with food also changed colonisation, as did administering an antacid before ingesting the bacteria.
“We continue to seek the plant characteristics and host factors that result in key microbial community shifts in the gut that put us at risk for colonization and those that prevent it,” said Maeusli. “The environment and human health — in this context via agriculture and microbiomes — are inextricably linked,” she said.