Functional short-chain carbohydrates (prebiotics) in the diet to improve the microbiome and health of the gastrointestinal tract

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Advancement in technologies to identify and quantify bacterial species in the gastrointestinal tract has escalated interest in its microbiome worldwide. There is enormous interest in understanding the roles that bacterial species play in gastrointestinal health and overall wellbeing. What constitutes a 'healthy gut microbiome' includes: favourable fermentation-dependent characteristics such as butyrate supply to all regions, minimisation of putrefaction of proteins, and adequate laxation. The relative abundance of specific bacterial species with certain functional characteristics is also important and include: traditional prebiotic bacteria - Bifidobacteria; strongly butyrate-producing - Clostridium coccoides and Faecalibacterium prausnitzi as well as a mucus-associated bacterium Akkermansia muciniphila. Manipulation of diet and dietary factors may be essential to favourably influence these fermentation-dependent parameters and select for growth of beneficial bacterial species. In this regard, this laboratory has identified indigestible oligosaccharides with prebiotic effects and now has an extensive database that quantifies indigestible oligosaccharides in a wide variety of foods including whole grains, cereals, legumes, seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Future research in this area should consider the role of dietary components that best establish and maintain a 'healthy gut microbiome'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1376-1380
Number of pages5
JournalAnimal Production Science
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • fermentation
  • gut microbiome

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