Published 3rd February 2022

What is Oscillibacter sp. 57_20 and why is he a ‘good’ bug?

ZOE runs the largest study of nutrition and gut bacteria in the world, with data from over 10,000 people. We publish our research in top scientific journals, including Nature Medicine. Our scientists have found 15 “good” gut microbes that are associated with indicators of good health and 15 “bad” gut microbes that are linked with worse health. 

Oscillibacter sp. 57_20 — or “Oscar” as we call him — is one of the 15 “good” bugs. In this article, you can find out more about Oscar, why he is a good bug, and what foods he likes and dislikes. 

Fast facts about your gut microbiome

  • Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria and other microbes that make up your gut microbiome.

  • These microbes mainly feed on fiber and chemicals called polyphenols, which give plants their color, and turn these into chemicals that help support your health and weight control. 

  • Your gut microbiome is unique and radically different from everyone else’s, unlike your DNA, which is 99% the same. Even twins only share 34% of the same microbes. 

  • At ZOE, we use the latest and most advanced biotechnology to analyze the bacteria in your gut from a poop sample.

  • Using this technology, the ZOE program tells you your unique microbiome composition — including which of the 15 “good” and 15 “bad” bugs are in your gut — in order to recommend the best foods for you.

Who is Oscar?

Oscar is part of a group of bacteria called Firmicutes. If you looked at him under a microscope, you would observe that he is shaped like a rod.

Our scientists found Oscar in the gut of nearly 90% of our study participants. 

Other members of the Firmicutes include Lactobacillus, which you may be familiar with already. They are “good” bugs found in foods like yogurt. 

Why is Oscar a ‘good’ bug?

Oscar is a bug that scientists only discovered recently but haven’t studied yet in detail. So, not much is known about him at this point. 

From our research, we can say that he’s likely a common member of the human gut microbiome because we found him in the majority of our study participants’ guts.

In our study, we saw links between having Oscar in your gut and having lower insulin secretion and higher insulin sensitivity.

Lower insulin secretion and higher insulin sensitivity are good for your body. Too much insulin is bad for your health, as it increases your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. 

What foods does Oscar like and dislike?

Our scientists have found links between specific foods that you eat and the 15 “good” and 15 “bad” gut bugs.

In general, Oscar likes whole grains, unsalted nuts, fruits like strawberries, and avocado. He doesn’t like animal-derived foods, potatoes, white bread, or chocolate bars.

But the exact foods that will help Oscar thrive in your body depend on the combination of bugs in your gut. Since every person’s gut microbiome is completely unique, there is no one-size-fits-all diet that is right for everyone. 

The ZOE program analyzes your entire microbiome and works out your unique “gut booster” and “gut suppressor” foods, so that good bugs, like Oscar, can flourish.

If you want to know the best foods for your body and your unique combination of gut bugs, take our free quiz today. 

Sources

Insulin: Too much of a good thing is bad. BMC Medicine. (2020). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7441661/

Microbiome connections with host metabolism and habitual diet from 1,098 deeply phenotyped individuals. Nature Medicine. (2021). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-01183-8