The impact of a wide variety of dietary lipids on microbiota composition and functionality

This project will explore the potential of fats and oils to act as a modulator of the gut microbiome and its link with human health.

There is growing evidence that various dietary fats can modulate the microbiome and hence have a beneficial impact on human health. A consortium has been formed between Wageningen University & Research (WUR), UMCG, companies and the Dutch Digestive Foundation to explore the potential of dietary fats and oils to positively impact human health in novel ways.

The majority of dietary lipids are digested and absorbed to a large extent in the small intestine and due to inaccessibility of this niche, research into the interaction between dietary fat and the intestinal microbiome has been limited. However, besides direct pro- and antimicrobial effects, it has been shown that several groups of intestinal bacteria are capable of transforming dietary fatty acids into biologically active molecules influencing host immunity and metabolic health. There are also indications that microbes inhabiting the small intestine, although fewer in number than in the colon, can play a significant role in the efficiency of dietary lipids absorption.

Our 3 main objectives

  • Building an in silico prediction model of the lipid metabolizing capacity of the human microbiome
  • Identifying potential of a wide variety of dietary lipids to modulate microbiota composition and functionality using in vitro models
  • Validate and verify findings in a (new) human intervention model focusing on the small intestine

With this project, we envision to provide new knowledge on microbiome-driven health benefits of dietary lipids that will support food industry to accurately
(re)formulate food products, and to empower consumers to make appropriate and
effective changes in their diet that contribute to a more healthy lifestyle and
thereby prevent disease onset and lower disease burden.