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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Dairy and Functional Foods Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #390072

Research Project: In vitro Human Gut System: Interactions Between Diet, Food Processing, and Microbiota

Location: Dairy and Functional Foods Research

Title: Chewing the fat with microbes: lipid crosstalk in the gut

item Liu, Linshu

Submitted to: Nutrients
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/25/2022
Publication Date: 1/28/2022
Citation: Scarino Lemons, J.M., Liu, L.S. 2022. Chewing the fat with microbes: lipid crosstalk in the gut. Nutrients. 14(3):573.

Interpretive Summary: New studies are constantly being published, especially in very active fields, like microbiome research. This makes it difficult to stay abreast of all the latest findings in the field. This review article highlights important research that has emerged over the last 5-6 years regarding the three-way interaction between human health, dietary fats and the microbes that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract. The article provides a solid introduction to the field and will serve as a source of inspiration for future microbiome work.

Technical Abstract: It is becoming increasingly important for any project aimed at understanding the effects of diet on human health, to also consider the combined effect of the trillions of microbes within the gut which modify and are modified by dietary nutrients. A healthy microbiome is diverse and contributes to host health, partly via the production and subsequent host absorption of secondary metabolites. Many of the beneficial bacteria in the gut rely on specific nutrients, such as dietary fiber, to survive and thrive. In the absence of those nutrients, the relative proportion of good commensal bacteria dwindles while other, opportunistic, and potentially pathogenic, bacteria make the most of the nutrients that are available. Therefore, it is unsurprising that both diet and the gut microbiome have been associated with numerous human diseases. Susceptibility to inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancer increases with consumption of a Western diet, which is typically high in fat, protein, and refined carbohydrates but low in plant-based fibers, and in the presence of certain pathogenic bacteria. Despite increased screening and better care, colorectal cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death in the US and is the third most diagnosed cancer among US men and women. Rates are rising worldwide as diets are becoming more westernized, alongside rising rates of metabolic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and other cancers. Evolutionarily speaking, the Western diet is new and therefore humans and microbes alike are ill-equipped to maintain proper homeostasis and health. Understanding how a modern diet influences the microbiota and how subsequent microbial alterations effect human health will become essential in guiding personalized nutrition and healthcare. Herein, we will summarize some of the latest advances in understanding the three-way interaction between the human host, the gut microbiome, and a specific class of dietary nutrients, fats.