Dietary Restrictions and Gut Microbiota: A Review

Impact of Dietary Restrictions on Gut Microbiota and Human Health:

Dietary restrictions are limitations on what a person can or cannot eat due to various reasons. These reasons can be:

  • Medical conditions:
  • Allergies and sensitivities
  • Religious beliefs or
  • Ethical reasons

While gut microbiota, also known as the gut microbiome, is a complex community of trillions of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. This diverse community includes bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses, and it plays a critical role in many aspects of your health.

This review explores the impact of dietary restrictions, including intermittent fasting, on the gut microbiome and overall human health.


  • Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained popularity for its potential impact on gut microbiota and health.
  • Dietary components influence the gut microbial community, affecting host metabolism and drug responses.
  • This review examines the impact of dietary restrictions on gut microbiota and overall health.


  • Preclinical and clinical studies published between 2015 and 2023 (preclinical studies from 2021-2023) were reviewed.
  • Eligibility criteria included accessibility, full text availability, and relevance to the topic.
  • Two researchers screened data independently, with discrepancies resolved by consensus.

Key Findings:

Preclinical Studies:

  • Diverse dietary interventions (high-fat, caloric restriction, time-restricted feeding) impacted gut microbiota composition in different animal models.
  • Effects varied depending on the specific intervention, duration, and dietary composition.
  • Short-term IF reduced specific bacterial groups in mice with induced colitis, while long-term IF increased Lactobacillaceae.
  • Preclinical studies suggest gut microbiota adapts to dietary modifications but lacked consistency in findings.

Clinical Studies:

  • Fasting interventions (Buchinger, water-only, Ramadan) influenced gut microbiota composition in humans.
  • Buchinger fasting increased Proteobacteria and Christensenellaceae while reducing Firmicutes:Bacteroides ratio.
  • Ramadan fasting increased alpha diversity and Lachnospiraceae while decreasing Bacteroidales.
  • Caloric restriction and weight stabilization diets impacted specific bacterial populations.
  • Long-term dietary restriction reduced Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes ratio and increased beneficial bacteria like Roseburia and Faecalibacterium.
  • Health benefits like reduced inflammation and improved metabolic health were observed with dietary interventions.


Dietary restrictions like intermittent fasting and calorie restriction influence gut microbiota composition and metabolic health. These interventions alter the gut environment, impacting nutrient availability, microbial growth, and SCFA production. They can improve health by reducing inflammation, regulating metabolism, and improving circadian rhythm. However, more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of dietary interventions on gut microbiota and health, particularly in individuals with obesity and metabolic issues.

Overall, this review provides valuable insights into the complex relationship between dietary restrictions, gut microbiota, and human health. While findings vary across studies, the potential health benefits of specific dietary interventions warrant further investigation.

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