The intestinal microbiota has been implicated in a wide range of diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and cancer. Food ingredients are considered a major determinant of gut microbial composition, as exemplified by high-fat diet-induced dysbiosis that can affect host physiology. Accumulating studies show that microbial metabolites are key regulators of the intestinal epithelial barrier and gut immunity. In particular, shortchain fatty acids produced by bacterial fermentation of indigestible polysaccharides have profound impacts on host physiology beyond the gut. In this review, we describe the influences of the diet-microbiota-metabolite axis on host physiology, and especially on the immune and metabolic systems.
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