Diet and the intestinal microbiome: associations, functions, and implications for health and disease

Gastroenterology. 2014 May;146(6):1564-72. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2014.01.058. Epub 2014 Feb 4.


The mutual relationship between the intestinal microbiota and its mammalian host is influenced by diet. Consumption of various nutrients affects the structure of the microbial community and provides substrates for microbial metabolism. The microbiota can produce small molecules that are absorbed by the host and affect many important physiological processes. Age-dependent and societal differences in the intestinal microbiota could result from differences in diet. Examples include differences in the intestinal microbiota of breastfed vs formula-fed infants or differences in microbial richness in people who consume an agrarian plant-based vs a Western diet, which is high in meat and fat. We review how diet affects the structure and metabolome of the human intestinal microbiome and may contribute to health or the pathogenesis of disorders such as coronary vascular disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

Keywords: Diet; Inflammation; Intestine; Microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Diet*
  • Dysbiosis
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / microbiology*
  • Health Status*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Metabolome
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Microbiota*