Supplementation with inulin-type fructans affects gut microbiota and attenuates some of the cardiometabolic benefits of a plant-based diet in individuals with overweight or obesity

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Background: The gut microbiota has emerged as a potential therapeutic target to improve the management of obesity and its comorbidities. 

Objective: We investigated the impact of a high fiber (∼38 g/d) plant-based diet, consumed ad libitum, with or without added inulin-type fructans (ITF), on the gut microbiota composition and cardiometabolic outcomes in subjects with obesity. We also tested if baseline Prevotella/Bacteroides (P/B) ratio predicts weight loss outcomes. 

Methods: This is a secondary exploratory analysis from the PREVENTOMICS study, in which 100 subjects (82 completers) aged 18–65 years with body mass index 27–40 kg/m2 were randomized to 10 weeks of double-blinded treatment with a personalized or a generic plant-based diet. Changes from baseline to end-of-trial in gut microbiota composition (16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing), body composition, cardiometabolic health and inflammatory markers were evaluated in the whole cohort (n = 82), and also compared in the subgroup of subjects who were supplemented with an additional 20 g/d ITF-prebiotics (n = 21) or their controls (n = 22). Results: In response to the plant-based diet, all subjects lost weight (−3.2 [95% CI –3.9, −2.5] kg) and experienced significant improvements in body composition and cardiometabolic health indices. Addition of ITF to the plant-based diet reduced microbial diversity (Shannon index) and selectively increased Bifidobacterium and Faecalibacterium (q < 0.05). The change in the latter was significantly associated with higher values of insulin and HOMA-IR and lower HDL cholesterol. In addition, the LDL:HDL ratio and the concentrations of IL-10, MCP-1 and TNFα were significantly elevated in the ITF-subgroup. There was no relationship between baseline P/B ratio and changes in body weight (r = −0.07, p = 0.53). 

Conclusion: A plant-based diet consumed ad libitum modestly decreases body weight and has multiple health benefits in individuals with obesity. Addition of ITF-prebiotics on top this naturally fiber-rich background selectively changes gut microbiota composition and attenuates some of the realized cardiometabolic benefits. 

Clinical trial registration: [], identifier [NCT04590989].

Original languageEnglish
Article number1108088
JournalFrontiers in Nutrition
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Aldubayan, Mao, Laursen, Pigsborg, Christensen, Roager, Nielsen, Hjorth and Magkos.

    Research areas

  • Cardiometabolic health, Inulin-type fructans, Microbiome, Obesity, Personalized nutrition, Plant-based diet, Prebiotics, Precision nutrition

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