Gut Microbiota, Dietary Phytochemicals, and Benefits to Human Health

Abstract

Purpose of Review

In this review, we discuss the roles of the gut microbiota and dietary phytochemicals in improving human health. Recent studies have reported that the human gut microbiota can be altered by dietary phytochemicals, including phenolics, carotenoids, and dietary fibers. In addition, both pathogenic and nonpathogenic bacteria show regulatory effects with phytochemicals, suggesting potential synergistic effects in the improvement of human gut health and prevention of chronic diseases.

Recent Findings

Numerous studies have been conducted on gut microbial alterations induced by phytochemicals, such as phenolics and carotenoids. Butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid produced via bacterial fermentation in the colon, also shows a significantly beneficial effect in the maintenance of gut microbial homeostasis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of diets and the interactions of the gut microorganisms remain poorly understood. The gut microbiome profile changes have been observed in chronic inflammation-induced diseases, including colitis, Crohn’s disease, immune dysfunction, colon cancer, obesity, and diabetes. The anti-inflammatory effects of dietary phytochemicals against these diseases may be partially mediated by the regulation of microbial profiles. The latest advances in biomedical technology, such as next-generation sequencing (NGS), and continuous cost reduction associated with these technologies have enabled researchers to perform an ever-increasing number of large-scale, high-throughput computational analyses to elucidate the potential mechanism of phytochemical–microbiome interactions.

Summary

Information obtained from these studies may provide valuable insights to guide future clinical research for the development of therapeutics, botanicals, and drug efficacy testing, many of which will be discussed in this review.

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Acknowledgements

We thank all members of Dr. Ah-Ng Kong’s lab for the helpful discussions and preparation of the manuscript.

Funding

This review was supported by R01 CA200129 from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and R01 AT009152 from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to Dr. Ah-Ng Tony Kong.

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Yin, R., Kuo, H., Hudlikar, R. et al. Gut Microbiota, Dietary Phytochemicals, and Benefits to Human Health. Curr Pharmacol Rep 5, 332–344 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40495-019-00196-3

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Keywords

  • Microbiota
  • Phytochemicals
  • Chronic diseases
  • Human health