Modulation of the human gut microbiota by phenolics and phenolic fiber-rich foods


The gut microbiota plays a prominent role in human health. Alterations in the gut microbiota are linked to the development of chronic diseases such as obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic syndrome, and certain cancers. We know that diet plays an important role to initiate, shape, and modulate the gut microbiota. Long-term dietary patterns are shown to be closely related with the gut microbiota enterotypes, specifically long-term consumption of carbohydrates (related to Prevotella abundance) or a diet rich in protein and animal fats (correlated to Bacteroides). Short-term consumption of solely animal- or plant-based diets have rapid and reproducible modulatory effects on the human gut microbiota. These alterations in microbiota profile by dietary alterations can be due to impact of different dietary macronutrients, carbohydrates, protein, and fat, which have diverse modulatory effects on gut microbial composition. Food-derived phenolics, which encompass structural variants of flavonoids, hydroxybenzoic acids, hydroxycinnamic acids, coumarins, stilbenes, ellagitannins, and lignans can modify the gut microbiota. Gut microbes have been shown to act on dietary fibers and phenolics to produce functional metabolites that contribute to gut health. Here, we discuss recent studies on the impacts of phenolics and phenolic fiber-rich foods on the human gut microbiota and provide an insight into potential synergistic roles between their bacterial metabolic products in the regulation of the intestinal microbiota.

Publication Title

Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety