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Gut microbiota and health: connecting actors across the metabolic system

  • F. Fava (a1), L. Rizzetto (a1) and K. M. Tuohy (a1)

Overweight-related metabolic diseases are an important threat to health in the Western world. Dietary habits are one of the main causative factors for metabolic syndrome, CVD and type 2 diabetes. The human gut microbiota is emerging as an important player in the interaction between diet and metabolic health. Gut microbial communities contribute to human metabolism through fermentation of dietary fibre and the result of intestinal saccharolytic fermentation is production of SCFA. Acetate, propionate and butyrate positively influence satiety, endocrine system, glucose homeostasis, adipogenesis, lipid oxidation, thermoregulation, hepatic gluconeogenesis, endothelial function and gut barrier integrity, and these mechanisms have all been linked to protection from type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular health. The gut microbiota is also involved in bile acid metabolism and regulating their cell signalling potential, which has also been shown to modify pathways involved in metabolic health. Similarly, the gut microbiota renders recalcitrant plant polyphenols into biologically active small phenolic compounds which then act systemically to reduce metabolic disease risk. This review summarises how dietary patterns, specific foods and a healthy lifestyle may modulate metabolic health through the gut microbiota and their molecular cross-talk with the host.

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*Corresponding author: F. Fava, fax 0039 0461 615200, email
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