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The complexities of the diet-microbiome relationship: advances and perspectives

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number10
Pages (from-to)10
JournalGenome medicine
Issue number1
Published20 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: TwinsUK is funded by the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, European Union, The CDRF, the Denise Coates Foundation, the National Institute of Health (NIH), the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)-funded BioResource, DiabetesUK, and Clinical Research Facility and Biomedical Research Centre based at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with King’s College London. Cristina Menni is funded by the MRC Aim-Hy project grant and Chronic Disease Research Foundation. E.R.L and P.L are funded by the Chronic Disease Research Foundation. Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s). Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


Personalised dietary modulation of the gut microbiota may be key to disease management. Current investigations provide a broad understanding of the impact of diet on the composition and activity of the gut microbiota, yet detailed knowledge in applying diet as an actionable tool remains limited. Further to the relative novelty of the field, approaches are yet to be standardised and extremely heterogeneous research outcomes have ensued. This may be related to confounders associated with complexities in capturing an accurate representation of both diet and the gut microbiota. This review discusses the intricacies and current methodologies of diet-microbial relations, the implications and limitations of these investigative approaches, and future considerations that may assist in accelerating applications. New investigations should consider improved collection of dietary data, further characterisation of mechanistic interactions, and an increased focus on -omic technologies such as metabolomics to describe the bacterial and metabolic activity of food degradation, together with its crosstalk with the host. Furthermore, clinical evidence with health outcomes is required before therapeutic dietary strategies for microbial amelioration can be made. The potential to reach detailed understanding of diet-microbiota relations may depend on re-evaluation, progression, and unification of research methodologies, which consider the complexities of these interactions.

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