In new research published in the journal Cell, scientists found moving from another country to the US doesn’t just affect your gut bacteria—it can also mess with your health down the line. The study looked at a group of 514 women in a few different categories: those from Thailand and still living in Thailand, those from Southeast Asia who moved to the US, and those born in the US from immigrant parents from Southeast Asia. What they found was the second anyone moved to the US, their gut microbiome began changing. And not in a good way. Crazily enough, by bacteria alone, you couldn’t even tell who was a US native and who wasn’t after a while.
The second anyone moved to the US, their gut microbiome began changing. And not in a good way.
Unfortunately, along with the changes in gut bacteria came some health problems. According to Newsweek, those in the US mainly have Bacteroides bacteria (a prime animal protein digester), while those outside the US mainly had Prevotella bacteria (a prime plant fiber digester). Unfortunately, the move totally made the Prevotella disappear, making immigrants’ bacteria less diverse overall—something that could explain why immigrants have been found to be more likely to develop life-threatening issues, including diabetes and obesity, than those who don’t move to the US. More research obviously needs to be done, but it’s certainly food for thought.