2013 Volume 32 Issue 1 Pages 1-12
Gut microbes are present in large concentrations on the human intestinal mucosal surface and play important roles in health and disease of the host. Numerous groups of gut microbes are associated with immunological and metabolic diseases and in maintaining health status of the host. Among these health- and disease-associated gut microbes, Bacteroides, Clostridium and Bifidobacterium appear regularly in the list. Scientific and clinical evidence available to date indicates that diet is a major driving factor for the establishment of the gut microbiome. Slow digestible carbohydrates (human milk glycan, inulin and fructooligosaccharide), insoluble complex carbohydrates and protein diets favor the growth of Bacteroides, Clostridium and Bifidobacterium. Fat on the other hand suppresses the number of Bacteroides, Clostridium and Bifidobacterium; whereas polyphenols in general suppress Bacteroides and Clodtridium but enhance the Bifodobacterium. The implication is that dietary habits could be a major determinant of health and disease susceptibility. Dietary strategies could be an effective means of potentially inducing changes in intestinal microbiota and are certainly achievable, thus facilitating correction of intestinal microbiome aberrations or imbalances to improve our health. Most of the physiological and functional interactions between individual dietary components and the concoction of foods in a meal and gut microbiota have not yet been well studied. A concerted effort is required to acquire better understanding of their interaction in order to rationally maintain our intestinal microbiome homeostasis and general health through dietary intervention.