Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Health: The Potential Beneficial Effects of a Medium Chain Triglyceride Diet in Obese Individuals

Nutrients. 2016 May 12;8(5):281. doi: 10.3390/nu8050281.


Obesity and associated metabolic complications, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and type 2 diabetes (T2D), are in constant increase around the world. While most obese patients show several metabolic and biometric abnormalities and comorbidities, a subgroup of patients representing 3% to 57% of obese adults, depending on the diagnosis criteria, remains metabolically healthy. Among many other factors, the gut microbiota is now identified as a determining factor in the pathogenesis of metabolically unhealthy obese (MUHO) individuals and in obesity-related diseases such as endotoxemia, intestinal and systemic inflammation, as well as insulin resistance. Interestingly, recent studies suggest that an optimal healthy-like gut microbiota structure may contribute to the metabolically healthy obese (MHO) phenotype. Here, we describe how dietary medium chain triglycerides (MCT), previously found to promote lipid catabolism, energy expenditure and weight loss, can ameliorate metabolic health via their capacity to improve both intestinal ecosystem and permeability. MCT-enriched diets could therefore be used to manage metabolic diseases through modification of gut microbiota.

Keywords: Bacteroidetes; Firmicutes; endotoxemia; gut microbiota; lipopolysaccharide; medium chain fatty acids; medium chain triglycerides; metabolic syndrome; metabolically healthy obese; metabolically unhealthy obese; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet*
  • Food Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Triglycerides / chemistry
  • Triglycerides / pharmacology*


  • Triglycerides