Food and the gut microbiota in inflammatory bowel diseases: a critical connection

Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2012 Jul;28(4):314-20. doi: 10.1097/MOG.0b013e328354586f.


Purpose of review: The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are chronic inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract apparently due to an abnormal immune response to environmental factors in genetically susceptible hosts. The composition of the gut microbiota is thought to be a critical environmental factor in IBD, and recent evidence suggests a connection between diet and the intestinal bacteria. In this review, we describe the current evidence regarding the impact of diet on the gut microbiome and how this may be relevant to the pathogenesis of IBD.

Recent findings: Novel culture-independent DNA sequencing technology has revolutionized the approach to the characterization of intestinal bacterial communities. Recent studies have demonstrated an association between the diet and the human microbiome. Because the development of a 'dysbiotic' microbiota is thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of IBD, diet is being investigated as an important etiologic factor.

Summary: The recent studies highlighting the impact of diet on the gut microbiome provide a strong rationale for further investigation of the link between diet, the gut microbiome, and the development of IBD. Such studies may provide novel information about disease pathogenesis as well as identify new therapeutic alternatives for patients suffering from IBD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Diet*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / genetics
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology*
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Metagenome / genetics
  • Metagenome / physiology*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods


  • DNA, Bacterial