Review article: dietary fibre in the era of microbiome science

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2019 Mar;49(5):506-515. doi: 10.1111/apt.15129.


Background: Explanations for the health benefits of dietary fibre have, in the past, been inconsistent and studies of the physiological effects of dietary fibre were, perhaps, directed at the wrong read-outs. Confounding factors included a failure to appreciate the molecular diversity and varied properties of fibre-types and the role of fibre as a substrate for microbial metabolism in the gut.

Aim: To present a modern perspective on fibre science and to encourage clinicians to re-consider the health impact of dietary fibre and how best to approach adjustments in dietary consumption.

Methods: This perspective is drawn selectively from recent microbiome science; no attempt was made to perform an exhaustive review of all articles related to every aspect of dietary fibre.

Results: Advances in microbiome science have revealed not only the functional impact of dietary fibre on the composition and function of the microbiota but have also demonstrated the physiologic responses to microbial-derived metabolites from fibre digestion. Moreover, studies have shown the personalised nature of host responses to dietary fibre intervention, with outcomes being dependent on individual pre-treatment gut ecology.

Conclusions: The physical properties of dietary fibres are important for homeostasis within the gut, but the predominant health benefits extend beyond the gut to enhanced metabolic welfare, including protection against obesity and related metabolic diseases. Fibre is a form of functional food joining a growing list of examples of diet-microbe-host interactions which link microbe-host metabolic and immune cascades.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Diet / methods
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fiber / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diet therapy
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Microbiota / physiology
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / metabolism


  • Dietary Fiber