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Nutrients Modulate the Gut Microbiome – The Scientific Evidence

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

Food, Medicine & Lies - health talk by Dr Prritii

With the increasing epidemic of communicable diseases scientists and researchers have gone deeper on how can we manage these. They have found that gastrointestinal system (gut) plays a key role in determining the extent of chronic diseases in human beings. This has led to an interest in understanding how dietary nutrients modulate the gut microbiome leading to the development of food products and eating patterns for combatting the global burden of non-communicable diseases.

Functional Medicine

The preclinical evidence suggests that red wine- and tea-derived polyphenols and vitamin D can modulate potentially beneficial bacteria. Current research shows consistent clinical evidence that dietary fibers, including arabinoxylans, galacto-oligosaccharides, inulin, and oligofructose, promote a range of beneficial bacteria and suppress potentially detrimental species. The preclinical evidence suggests that both the quantity and type of fat modulate both beneficial and potentially detrimental microbes, as well as the Firmicutes/Bacteroides ratio in the gut. Clinical and preclinical studies suggest that the type and amount of proteins in the diet has substantial and differential effects on the gut microbiota. Further clinical investigation of the effect of micronutrients and macronutrients on the microbiome and metabolome is warranted, along with understanding how this influences host health.

The large intestine is the predominant location where microbes are present in the human gut and our understanding of the composition, interaction, and functions of these gut microbes continues to develop as a result of advancement in scientific findings. The human gut microbiome is highly dynamic during the various stages of human development and has been implicated in a variety of health and disease conditions. There are many factors that contribute to shaping the gut microbial colonization, growth, composition, and diversity. The major factors that impact microbial colonization and diversity include age genetics, mode of delivery at birth, method of feeding in infants, medications (e.g., antibiotics), geographical location, and the diet. Metagenomics studies in a Dutch population have shown associations between gut microbiota and 126 exogenous factors, 31 intrinsic factors, 12 diseases, 19 drug groups, 4 smoking categories, and 60 dietary factors. Among these influential factors, what is significant to note is that the dietary factors, including micro- and macro-nutrients, are the most influential in shaping and modulating the human gut microbiota.

Microbial diversity measures the distribution of different species on the community, the level of which is reduced during gut dysbiosis, and a richness of species indicates a “healthy gut”. Lower bacterial diversity was reported in people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, Type 2 diabetes (T2DM), and Coeliac disease. Recent studies have identified the dominance of some groups of gut microbes that are associated with a good health outcome, and these microbes are presented in this review as “potential beneficial microbes”, that include major species from the genera Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Akkermansia, Fecalibacterium, Eubacterium, Roseburia, Ruminococcus, and Blautia. Studies have also reported the abundance of specific bacteria that could potentially contribute to the development or progression of major non-communicable diseases and these microbes are presented in this review as “potential detrimental microbes”, that include some species from the genera Clostridium, Enterobacter, Enterococcus, Bacteoidetes, and Ruminococcus. Both human and animal studies report that an increase in the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio (F/B ratio) is associated with obese/lean phenotypes and may modulate energy balance.

Adapted From: Qi Yang. Microbiota: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2020 Feb; 12(2): 381.

As a Functional Medicine Expert, Dr. Priti can help their patients to restore a healthy, diverse microbiome at any stage of their life through modifiable lifestyle such as nutrition and exercise. Make them understand the relationship between diet, gut microbes, and affected metabolic pathways helps inform personalized therapeutic strategies that address gastrointestinal (GI) imbalances. Consult Dr. Priti to learn more about Functional Medicine to achieve sustainable lifestyle change and to improve well-being.


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