Analysis of the Effects of Dietary Pattern on the Oral Microbiome of Elite Endurance Athletes

Nida Murtaza, Louise M Burke, Nicole Vlahovich, Bronwen Charlesson, Hayley M O'Neill, Megan L Ross, Katrina L Campbell, Lutz Krause, Mark Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)
191 Downloads (Pure)


Although the oral microbiota is known to play a crucial role in human health, there are few studies of diet x oral microbiota interactions, and none in elite athletes who may manipulate their intakes of macronutrients to achieve different metabolic adaptations in pursuit of optimal endurance performance. The aim of this study was to investigate the shifts in the oral microbiome of elite male endurance race walkers from Europe, Asia, the Americas and Australia, in response to one of three dietary patterns often used by athletes during a period of intensified training: a High Carbohydrate (HCHO; n = 9; with 60% energy intake from carbohydrates; ~8.5 g kg-1 day-1 carbohydrate, ~2.1 g kg-1 day-1 protein, 1.2 g kg-1 day-1 fat) diet, a Periodised Carbohydrate (PCHO; n = 10; same macronutrient composition as HCHO, but the intake of carbohydrates is different across the day and throughout the week to support training sessions with high or low carbohydrate availability) diet or a ketogenic Low Carbohydrate High Fat (LCHF; n = 10; 0.5 g kg-1 day-1 carbohydrate; 78% energy as fat; 2.1 g kg-1 day-1 protein) diet. Saliva samples were collected both before (Baseline; BL) and after the three-week period (Post treatment; PT) and the oral microbiota profiles for each athlete were produced by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Principal coordinates analysis of the oral microbiota profiles based on the weighted UniFrac distance measure did not reveal any specific clustering with respect to diet or athlete ethnic origin, either at baseline (BL) or following the diet-training period. However, discriminant analyses of the oral microbiota profiles by Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) Effect Size (LEfSe) and sparse Partial Least Squares Discriminant Analysis (sPLS-DA) did reveal changes in the relative abundance of specific bacterial taxa, and, particularly, when comparing the microbiota profiles following consumption of the carbohydrate-based diets with the LCHF diet. These analyses showed that following consumption of the LCHF diet the relative abundances of Haemophilus, Neisseria and Prevotella spp. were decreased, and the relative abundance of Streptococcus spp. was increased. Such findings suggest that diet, and, in particular, the LCHF diet can induce changes in the oral microbiota of elite endurance walkers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number614
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Analysis of the Effects of Dietary Pattern on the Oral Microbiome of Elite Endurance Athletes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this