How fiber feeds a healthy gut

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Science  09 Dec 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6317, pp. 1246-1247
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6317.1246-d

Starving bacteria in the gut may turn a beneficial microbial community into one that enhances disease susceptibility. Desai et al. explored the effects of eating adequate dietary fiber in a model in which 14 well-characterized strains of human gut bacteria were inoculated into germfree mice. A diet deficient in fiber increased the abundance of bacteria that digest the polysaccharides in the mucin layer that lines the gut. Thus, instead of helping digest the polysaccharides in dietary fiber, the microbiota attacked the protective layer of the intestinal wall. This allowed an introduced bacterial pathogen to grow and cause lethal colitis. The results may help establish the amounts and types of fiber that best maintain the protective mucin layer in the colon.

Cell 167, 1339 (2016).

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