Review Article

Review Article: Dietary Fibre in the era of Microbiome Science

John O'Grady; Eibhlís M. O'Connor; Fergus Shanahan


Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2019;49(5):506-515. 

In This Article

Who Needs Dietary Fibre?

Optimal fibre intake is a consideration for all. Fibre is no longer a nutrient primarily recommended by the gastroenterologist, but for all clinicians when considering dietary advice for patients. Modern criteria for assessing the effects of dietary fibre include metabolic parameters, microbiome composition and metabolite production. The rising prevalence of metabolic syndrome is relevant to all medical specialities and fibre is a readily available and inexpensive strategy for favourably influencing cholesterol and glucose metabolism, while increasing satiety and modifying immune system function. A recent meta-analysis reported an inverse association between dietary fibre intake and risk of metabolic syndrome.[76] Despite the identification of a range of mechanisms responsible for this relationship, further prospective cohort studies are required. Additionally, fibre is required to maintain gut microbial diversity and, potentially in antenatal care, to prevent loss of taxa for subsequent generations.[56] Reduced microbial diversity, as a consequence of Western lifestyle and diet, has been linked to co-morbidity and inflammation and suggests a potential role for fibre in disease prevention by maintaining microbial diversity.[63,67] The use of a fibre-based diet to reduce infective risk of C difficile may be one such example.[5] As microbial response is dependent on individual baseline microbiota composition, dietary fibre adjustments based on microbiome readouts will enable a more scientific approach to achieving full benefits of fibre and SCFA production.