Dietary compounds and traditional Chinese medicine ameliorate type 2 diabetes by modulating gut microbiota

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(6):848-863. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1536646. Epub 2018 Dec 20.


Diabetes mellitus (DM) and its complications are major public health concerns which strongly influence the quality of humans' life. Modification of gut microbiota has been widely used for the management of diabetes. In this review, the relationship between diabetes and gut microbiota, as well as the effects of different dietary components and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) on gut microflora are summarized. Dietary compounds and TCM possessing bioactive components (fiber and phytochemicals) first change the composition of gut microbiota (inhibiting pathogens and promoting the beneficial bacteria growth) and then influence the production of their metabolites, which would further modify the intestinal environment through inhibiting the production of detrimental compounds (such as lipopolysaccharide, hydrogen sulfide, indol, etc.). Importantly, metabolites (short chain fatty acids and other bioactive components) fermented/degraded by gut microbiota can target multiple pathways in intestine, liver, pancreas, etc., resulting in the improvement of gut health, glycemic control, lipids profile, insulin resistance and inflammation. Furthermore, understanding the interaction between different dietary components and gut microbiota, as well as underlying mechanisms would help design different diet formula for the management of diabetes. Further researches could focus on the combination of different dietary components for preventing and treating diabetes, based on the principle of "multiple components against multiple targets" from the perspective of gut microbiota.

Keywords: Dietary component; dietary fiber; gut microbiota; melatonin; polyphenols; traditional Chinese medicine; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*
  • Melatonin / administration & dosage
  • Polyphenols / administration & dosage
  • Verrucomicrobia / metabolism


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Polyphenols
  • Melatonin