Editor's Note
This study examines if polyphenol consumption can improve gut microbiome consumption independent of dietary fiber intake. The authors found that stilbene, flavonoid and total (poly)phenol intake was associated with higher gut microbiome diversity independently of fiber intake, suggesting that polyphenols provide complementary health benefits to fiber, and may be included in an expanded prebiotics group. The results also suggest that gut microbiome diversity mediates the reverse association of (poly)phenols with obesity, increasing our understanding of how they interact with the gut microbiota. The beneficial impact of (poly)phenol consumption on metabolic health may be partially driven by the interaction between the type of phenolic compound in the diet and the gut microbiota.


Polyphenol consumption is implicated in gut microbiome composition and improved metabolic outcomes, but it is unclear whether the effect is independent of dietary fiber.


We investigated the links between (poly)phenol intake, gut microbiome composition (16s RNA) and obesity independently of fiber intake in UK women ( n  = 1810) and in a small group of UK men ( n  = 64). Results: (Poly)phenol intakes correlated with microbiome alpha diversity (Shannon Index) after adjusting for confounders and fiber intake. Moreover, flavonoid intake was significantly correlated with the abundance of  Veillonella , (a genus known to improve physical performance), and stilbene intake with that of butyrate-producing bacteria ( Lachnospira and Faecalibacterium) . Stilbene and flavonoid intake also correlated with lower odds of prevalent obesity ( Stilbenes:  Odds Ratio (95% Confidence Interval) (OR(95%CI)) = 0.80 (0.73, 0.87),  p  = 4.90 × 10−7;  Flavonoids : OR(95%CI) = 0.77 (0.65, 0.91),  p  = 0.002). Formal mediation analyses revealed that gut microbiome mediates ~11% of the total effect of flavonoid and stilbene intake on prevalent obesity.


Our findings highlight the importance of (poly)phenol consumption for optimal human health.

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