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J Nutr. 2007 Mar;137(3 Suppl 2):751S-5S.

Metabolic diversity of the intestinal microbiota: implications for health and disease.

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  • 1Department of Gastrointestinal Microbiology, German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE), 14558 Nuthetal, Germany.


The bacteria colonizing the human intestinal tract exhibit a high phylogenetic diversity that reflects their immense metabolic potential. By virtue of their catalytic activity, the human gut micro-organisms have an impact on gastrointestinal function and host health. All dietary components that escape digestion in the small intestine are potential substrates of the bacteria in the colon. The bacterial conversion of carbohydrates, proteins and nonnutritive compounds such as polyphenolic substances leads to the formation of a large number of compounds that may have beneficial or adverse effects on human health.

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