Gut microbiota modulation as a possible mediating mechanism for fasting-induced alleviation of metabolic complications: a systematic review

Nutr Metab (Lond). 2021 Dec 14;18(1):105. doi: 10.1186/s12986-021-00635-3.


Background: Intermittent fasting has been reported to have positive effects on obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and several neurodegenerative diseases through different mechanisms such as alteration in the gut microbiota. This systematic review was conducted with the aim of providing an overview of the existing animal and human literature regarding the gut microbiota alterations in various fasting regimens.

Method: A systematic literature search was conducted on PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science databases up to May 2021 to find all relevant studies examining the gut microbiota alteration during the fasting. Original researches on animal models or human patients were included in this study.

Results: The search fulfilled 3072 documents from which 31 studies (20 animal and 11 human studies) were included. Upon fasting, abundance of several beneficial bacteria including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium shifted significantly. Moreover, some taxa, including Odoribacter which negatively associated with blood pressure bloomed during fasting. Ramadan fasting, as a kind of intermittent fasting, improves health parameters through positive changes in gut microbiota including upregulation of A. muciniphila, B. fragilis, Bacteroides and butyric acid-producing Lachnospiraceae.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that different fasting regimens including alternate-day fasting, calorie- and time-restricted fasting programs and Ramadan fasting could promote health maybe through the modulation of gut microbiome. However, further studies are needed to explore properly the connection between gut microbiota and meal frequency and timing.

Keywords: Gut microbiota; Intermittent fasting; Metabolism; Microbiome; Ramadan fasting.

Publication types

  • Review