Microbiota modulation by diet in humans – Prebiotics, fibres and other compounds


*Corresponding author
1. University of Oviedo, Department of Functional Biology, Facultad de Medicina, C/Julián Clavería s/n, Oviedo, Asturias, 33006, Spain
2. Instituto de Productos Lácteos de Asturias – Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (IPLA-CSIC), Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry of Dairy Products, Paseo Río Linares s/n, Villaviciosa, Asturias, 33300, Spain


Based on the relevance of the intestinal microbiota on health, this article is focused on the effect of diet, and its components on modulating the activity of the colonic flora. There are evidences regarding the effects of different prebiotics, as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), galact-oligosaccharides (GOS), inulin and resistant starch, on the microbiota modulation and some of its metabolites. In addition, it will be highlighted the importance of other compounds associated with fibre intake, as polyphenols, whose prebiotic/antimicrobial effects remains to be elucidated. Future studies analysing the influence of probiotics and prebiotics on the microbial populations should include a detailed polyphenol intake.


With the increased commercialization of functional foods, which has occurred in the last decades, food with probiotics, prebiotics or both have been used by most of the population. The human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) harbours a very complex and dynamic microbial community which, in number, exceeds by an order of magnitude the number of host cells (1). Different microorganisms and levels are found throughout the gastrointestinal tract, as corresponds with the different ecological niches present from mouth to colon; the stomach and upper bowel being sparsely populated, whilst the colon is heavily colonized. The process of establishment of this microbiota starts at birth and later develops depending on interplay between genetics, environment and diet. This microbiota plays an important role in human health, not only due to its participation in the digestion process, but also for its critical functions on the development of the gut and the immune system. Indeed, it has been demonstrated that this bacterial colonization of the intestine is needed for the development of oral tolerance (2) and for the establishment of the mucosal barrier and the ...