Recent studies using germ-free, gnotobiotic microbial transplantation/conventionalization or antibiotic treatment in rodent models have highlighted the critical role of intestinal microbes on gut health and metabolic functions of the host. Genetic and environmental factors influence the abundance and type of mutualistic vs. pathogenic bacteria, each of which has preferred substrates for growth and unique products of fermentation. Whereas some fermentation products or metabolites promote gut function and health, others impair gut function, leading to compromised nutrient digestion and barrier function that adversely impact the host. Such products may also influence food intake, energy harvest and expenditure, and insulin action, thereby influencing adiposity and related metabolic outcomes. Diet composition influences gut microbiota and subsequent fermentation products that impact the host, as demonstrated by prebiotic studies using oligosaccharides or other types of indigestible fiber. Recent studies also show that dietary lipids affect specific populations of gut microbes and their metabolic end products. This review will focus on studies examining the influence of dietary fat amount and type on the gut microbiome, intestinal health and positive and negative metabolic consequences. The protective role of omega-3-rich fatty acids on intestinal inflammation will also be examined.
Keywords: Barrier function; Dietary fat; Inflammation; Microbiota; Obesity.
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