Strict vegetarian diet improves the risk factors associated with metabolic diseases by modulating gut microbiota and reducing intestinal inflammation

Environ Microbiol Rep. 2013 Oct;5(5):765-75. doi: 10.1111/1758-2229.12079. Epub 2013 Jul 19.


Low-grade inflammation of the intestine results in metabolic dysfunction, in which dysbiosis of the gut microbiota is intimately involved. Dietary fibre induces prebiotic effects that may restore imbalances in the gut microbiota; however, no clinical trials have been reported in patients with metabolic diseases. Here, six obese subjects with type 2 diabetes and/or hypertension were assigned to a strict vegetarian diet (SVD) for 1 month, and blood biomarkers of glucose and lipid metabolisms, faecal microbiota using 454-pyrosequencing of 16S ribosomal RNA genes, faecal lipocalin-2 and short-chain fatty acids were monitored. An SVD reduced body weight and the concentrations of triglycerides, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and haemoglobin A1c, and improved fasting glucose and postprandial glucose levels. An SVD reduced the Firmicutes-to-Bacteroidetes ratio in the gut microbiota, but did not alter enterotypes. An SVD led to a decrease in the pathobionts such as the Enterobacteriaceae and an increase in commensal microbes such as Bacteroides fragilis and Clostridium species belonging to clusters XIVa and IV, resulting in reduced intestinal lipocalin-2 and short-chain fatty acids levels. This study underscores the benefits of dietary fibre for improving the risk factors of metabolic diseases and shows that increased fibre intake reduces gut inflammation by changing the gut microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / microbiology
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / immunology*
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Microbiota*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prebiotics / analysis
  • Risk Factors


  • Prebiotics