Gut microbiota, diet, and obesity-related disorders-The good, the bad, and the future challenges

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017 Jan;61(1). doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201600252. Epub 2016 Sep 20.


Diet has been shown to be a major factor in modulating the structure of the mammalian gut microbiota by providing specific nutrient sources and inducing environmental changes (pH, bile acids) in the gut ecosystem. Long-term dietary patterns and short-term interventions have been shown to induce changes in gut microbiota structure and function, with several studies revealing metabolic changes likely resulting from the host microbiota cross-talk, which ultimately could influence host physiology. However, a more precise identification of the specific dietary patterns and food constituents that effectively modulate the gut microbiota and bring a predictable benefit to the host metabolic phenotype is needed to establish microbiome-based dietary recommendations. Here, we briefly review the existing data regarding gut microbiota changes induced by different macronutrients and the resulting metabolites produced via their respective fermentation, including their potential effects on obesity and associated metabolic disorders. We also discuss major limitations of current dietary intervention studies as well as future needs of applying cutting-edge "omic" techniques and of progressing in functional microbiota gene discovery to establish robust causal relationships between the dietary microbiota induced changes and metabolic health or disease.

Keywords: Diet; Metabolic health; Microbiota; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism
  • Diet*
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology
  • Fermentation
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / microbiology*
  • Whole Grains


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Dietary Proteins