Dietary fiber intervention on gut microbiota composition in healthy adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Daniel So, Kevin Whelan, Megan Rossi, Mark Morrison, Gerald Holtmann, Jaimon T. Kelly, Erin R. Shanahan, Heidi M. Staudacher, Katrina L. Campbell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

414 Citations (Scopus)
617 Downloads (Pure)


Background Dysfunction of the gut microbiota is frequently reported as a manifestation of chronic diseases, and therefore presents as a modifiable risk factor in their development. Diet is a major regulator of the gut microbiota, and certain types of dietary fiber may modify bacterial numbers and metabolism, including short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) generation. Objective A systematic review and meta-analysis were undertaken to assess the effect of dietary fiber interventions on gut microbiota composition in healthy adults. Design A systematic search was conducted across MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL, and CINAHL for randomized controlled trials using culture and/or molecular microbiological techniques evaluating the effect of fiber intervention on gut microbiota composition in healthy adults. Meta-analyses via a random-effects model were performed on alpha diversity, prespecified bacterial abundances including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus spp., and fecal SCFA concentrations comparing dietary fiber interventions with placebo/low-fiber comparators. Results A total of 64 studies involving 2099 participants were included. Dietary fiber intervention resulted in higher abundance of Bifidobacterium spp. (standardized mean difference (SMD): 0.64; 95% CI: 0.42, 0.86; P < 0.00001) and Lactobacillus spp. (SMD: 0.22; 0.03, 0.41; P = 0.02) as well as fecal butyrate concentration (SMD: 0.24; 0.00, 0.47; P = 0.05) compared with placebo/low-fiber comparators. Subgroup analysis revealed that fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides led to significantly greater abundance of both Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp. compared with comparators (P < 0.00001 and P = 0.002, respectively). No differences in effect were found between fiber intervention and comparators for α-diversity, abundances of other prespecified bacteria, or other SCFA concentrations. Conclusions Dietary fiber intervention, particularly involving fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides, leads to higher fecal abundance of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus spp. but does not affect α-diversity. Further research is required to better understand the role of individual fiber types on the growth of microbes and the overall gut microbial community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)965-983
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


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