The effects of dairy and dairy derivatives on the gut microbiota: a systematic literature review

Hajara Aslam*, Wolfgang Marx, Tetyana Rocks, Amy Loughman, Vinoomika Chandrasekaran, Anu Ruusunen, Samantha L. Dawson, Madeline West, Eva Mullarkey, Julie A. Pasco, Felice N. Jacka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of dairy and dairy-derived products on the human gut microbiota remains understudied. A systematic literature search was conducted using Medline, CINAHL, Embase, Scopus, and PubMed databases with the aim of collating evidence on the intakes of all types of dairy and their effects on the gut microbiota in adults. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool.The search resulted in 6,592 studies, of which eight randomized controlled trials (RCTs) met pre-determined eligibility criteria for inclusion, consisting of a total of 468 participants. Seven studies assessed the effect of type of dairy (milk, yogurt, and kefir) and dairy derivatives (whey and casein) on the gut microbiota, and one study assessed the effect of the quantity of dairy (high dairy vs low dairy). Three studies showed that dairy types consumed (milk, yogurt, and kefir) increased the abundance of beneficial genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. One study showed that yogurt reduced the abundance of Bacteroides fragilis, a pathogenic strain. Whey and casein isolates and the quantity of dairy consumed did not prompt changes to the gut microbiota composition. All but one study reported no changes to bacterial diversity in response to dairy interventions and one study reported reduction in bacterial diversity in response to milk intake.In conclusion, the results of this review suggest that dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and kefir may modulate the gut microbiota composition in favor to the host. However, the broader health implications of these findings remain unclear and warrant further studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1799533
JournalGut Microbes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


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