Intestinal bacteria can obtain energy not only from dietary fiber, but also from certain blood sugars that are related to the blood group. Scientists from the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) discovered this based on research among approximately 9,000 Dutch people. In people with blood group A, this contributes to a healthier and more diverse microbiome.
Blood group sugars
Which blood group someone has – A, B, AB or O – is fixed in the genes. Each blood group has its own type of sugar that is in the blood. Researchers from the UMCG have now discovered that these blood group sugars are exported as mucus to the intestine, where they can be used by intestinal bacteria as an energy source.
Blood group A
The researchers also found benefits from type A blood sugar (N-acetylgalactosamine). When bacteria use this as an energy source, this leads to a healthier and more diverse composition of the intestinal microbiome. According to the researchers, our genetic composition influences which bacteria are in our intestines. This may also explain why there are variations in how people respond to food. “What is good for people with blood group A may not be good for people with blood group B or O,” the researchers said.
Groningen Microbiome Hub
The research was published in Nature and conducted by several UMCG experts in the field of the microbiome. In the recently opened new facility of the UMCG – the Groningen Microbiome Hub – these experts work closely together to understand how our bodies interact with microbes in human health.