Food additives, contaminants and other minor components: effects on human gut microbiota-a review

J Physiol Biochem. 2018 Feb;74(1):69-83. doi: 10.1007/s13105-017-0564-2. Epub 2017 May 9.


Gut bacteria play an important role in several metabolic processes and human diseases, such as obesity and accompanying co-morbidities, such as fatty liver disease, insulin resistance/diabetes, and cardiovascular events. Among other factors, dietary patterns, probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, antibiotics, and non-dietary factors, such as stress, age, exercise, and climatic conditions, can dramatically impact the human gut microbiota equilibrium and diversity. However, the effect of minor food constituents, including food additives and trace contaminants, on human gut microbiota has received less attention. Consequently, the present review aimed to provide an objective perspective of the current knowledge regarding the impacts of minor food constituents on human gut microbiota and consequently, on human health.

Keywords: Antibiotics; Bacteroidetes; Dietary emulsifier; Firmicutes; Food additive; Gut microbiota; Non-nutritive sweetener; Proteobacteria.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotransformation
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Diet, Western / adverse effects
  • Dietary Exposure / adverse effects
  • Drug Residues / toxicity
  • Dysbiosis / chemically induced
  • Dysbiosis / etiology*
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Dysbiosis / physiopathology
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Food Additives / adverse effects*
  • Food Contamination*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / drug effects
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Pesticide Residues / toxicity
  • Toxicokinetics


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Food Additives
  • Pesticide Residues