Recent advances and health implications of dietary fasting regimens on the gut microbiome

Alex E. Mohr, Eric Gumpricht, Dorothy D. Sears, Karen L. Sweazea

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Calorie restriction is a primary dietary intervention demonstrated over many decades in cellular and animal models to modulate aging pathways, positively affect age-associated diseases and, in clinical studies, to promote beneficial health outcomes. Because long-term compliance with daily calorie restriction has proven problematic in humans several intermittent fasting regimens, including alternate day fasting and time-restricted feeding, have evolved revealing similar clinical benefits as calorie restriction. Despite significant research on the cellular and physiological mechanisms contributing to, and responsible for, these observed benefits, relatively little research has investigated the impact of these various fasting protocols on the gut microbiome (GM). Reduced external nutrient supply to the gut may beneficially alter the composition and function of a “fed” gut microflora. Indeed, the prevalent, obesogenic Western diet can promote deleterious changes in the GM, signaling intermediates involved in lipid and glucose metabolism, and immune responses in the gastrointestinal tract. This review describes recent preclinical and clinical effects of varying fasting regimens on GM composition and associated physiology. Although the number of preclinical and clinical interventions are limited, significant data thus far suggest fasting interventions impact GM composition and physiology. However, there are considerable heterogeneities of study design, methodological considerations, and practical implications. Ongoing research on the health impact of fasting regimens on GM modulation is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G847-G863
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Circadian
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Gut microbiota
  • Gut microflora

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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