The effect of diet on the mammalian gut flora and its metabolic activities
The review will encompass the following points: A brief introduction to the role of the gut flora in the toxicology of ingested food components, contaminants, and additives, including known pathways of activation and detoxication of foreign compounds and the implication of the flora in enterohepatic circulation of xenobiotics. The advantages and disadvantages of the various methods of studying the gut flora (classical bacteriological techniques, metabolic and enzymological methods) will be critically discussed with special reference to their relevance to dietary, toxicological, and biochemical studies. Sources of nutrients available to the gut flora will be described including host products (mucus, sloughed mucosal cells, hormones, proteins) and exogenous nutrients derived from diet. An account of the problems involved in studies of dietary modification with special reference to the use of stock laboratory animal diets, purified diets, and human dietary studies. The influence of dietary modification on the flora will be assessed on the basis of changes in numbers and types of bacteria and their metabolic activity, drawing on data from human and animal studies. The effects of manipulation of the quantity and quality of protein, fat, and indigestible residues (fiber) of the diet will be described together with their possible implications for toxicity of ingested compounds.