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Keywords:

  • Fibers;
  • Gut microbiota;
  • Metabolomics;
  • Prebiotics

Scope

Fibers and prebiotics represent a useful dietary approach for modulating the human gut microbiome. Therefore, aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of four flours (wholegrain rye, wholegrain wheat, chickpeas and lentils 50:50, and barley milled grains), characterized by a naturally high content in dietary fibers, on the intestinal microbiota composition and metabolomic output.

Methods and results

A validated three-stage continuous fermentative system simulating the human colon was used to resemble the complexity and diversity of the intestinal microbiota. Fluorescence in situ hybridization was used to evaluate the impact of the flours on the composition of the microbiota, while small-molecule metabolome was assessed by NMR analysis followed by multivariate pattern recognition techniques. HT29 cell-growth curve assay was used to evaluate the modulatory properties of the bacterial metabolites on the growth of intestinal epithelial cells. All the four flours showed positive modulations of the microbiota composition and metabolic activity. Furthermore, none of the flours influenced the growth-modulatory potential of the metabolites toward HT29 cells.

Conclusion

Our findings support the utilization of the tested ingredients in the development of a variety of potentially prebiotic food products aimed at improving gastrointestinal health.