Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Nutrition


Food Science and Nutrition


Kari Pilolla


The gut microbiota has been implicated in both health and disease. As such, diet is a significant determinant of gut health, whereby diet induced dysbiosis is associated with cardiometabolic risk. Interestingly, a higher proportion of Firmicutes and a lower proportion of Bacteroidetes are implicated in obesity. Strawberry polyphenols have been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease risk in addition to exhibiting prebiotic activity by increasing probiotic bacteria in the gut. Polyphenols have also been shown to reduce the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes. Therefore, dietary modifications such as strawberry consumption may help improve health outcomes through the gut. The objective of this study was to analyze whether 13 g freeze dried strawberry powder (~1 cup/d fresh) consumption reduces the Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes ratio and increases microbial diversity and beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. This study was a 5-week free-living diet intervention trial conducted at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with expansion to the Eye Medical Center of Fresno. Participants (n=10) had a mean age of 60.5 ± 9.13 years and had a mean body weight of 74.71 ± 10.61 kg. The participants completed a 3-week washout before a 2-week diet intervention. Participants maintained their normal diet throughout the study while eliminating foods high in polyphenols and probiotics. Upon completion of the study, no significant differences were found for body weight (p=0.22) or BMI (p=0.26). Likewise, no significant differences were found for macronutrient, vitamin, or mineral intake except for sugar (p=0.03), vitamin B12 (p=0.03), and fruit (p=0.0014). Bacteria abundance and diversity were not found to be statistically significant following intervention. Since strawberry supplementation was not associated with a significant change in the relative abundance of bacteria with the dose and duration administered, a randomized controlled trial would better determine the effect of strawberry consumption on gut health.

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Nutrition Commons