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The role of gut microbiota in nutritional status

O’Connor, Eibhlís M.

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: September 2013 - Volume 16 - Issue 5 - p 509–516
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283638eb3
ASSESSMENT OF NUTRITIONAL STATUS AND ANALYTICAL METHODS: Edited by Dwight E. Matthews and Kristina Norman

Purpose of review: The objective of this review is to outline the contribution of the gut microbiota to nutritional status and to highlight the mechanisms by which this can occur.

Recent findings: Historically, research linking intestinal bacteria with nutritional status focused on the degradation of indigestible food components by bacterial enzymes and metabolites. Of late, emerging evidence suggests an independent role of the gut microbiota in the regulation of glucose and energy homeostasis via complex interactions between microbially derived metabolites and specific target tissue cells. In addition, novel findings highlight specific microbial species involved in the production of a number of micronutrient components, which could potentially improve nutritional status in certain population groups, if available to the host at sufficiently abundant levels.

Summary: New insights into the role of the gut microbiota and its holistic effects on the host are now emerging. High-throughput technologies allow for a greater insight into the role of the intestinal microbiota and the mechanisms by which it can contribute to overall nutritional status. Further, exploration of this evolving field of research will advance our understanding of how this complex ecosystem could advance the area of personalized nutrition in the future.

Department of Life Sciences, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

Correspondence to Eibhlis M. O’Connor, PhD, RNutr, Department of Life Sciences, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland. Tel: +353 061 202 890; e-mail: eibhlis.oconnor@ul.ie

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins