TUESDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Changes in diet affect the populations of viruses that live in your gut, researchers say.

Their findings, published online Aug. 30 in the journal Genome Research, sheds new light on virus populations in the gut, how they differ from person to person and how they respond to what we eat.

"Our bodies are like coral reefs, inhabited by many diverse creatures interacting with each other and with us," senior author Frederic Bushman, of University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, explained in a journal news release.

The study included six healthy volunteers who were assigned to eat either a high-fat/low-fiber diet, a low-fat/high-fiber diet or an ad-lib diet.

The researchers analyzed DNA from viruses in the stool of the participants over eight days and found that the largest variation in virus diversity occurred between individuals. However, virus populations among participants who ate the same diet became more similar over time.

"The study provides a new window on the vast viral populations that live in the human gut, demonstrates that they vary radically between individuals, and shows that dietary changes can affect not just bacterial populations but also viral populations," Bushman said.

More information

The Society for General Microbiology offers an overview about microbes and the human body.