Obesity currently represents a major societal and health challenge worldwide. Its prevalence has reached epidemic proportions and trends continue to rise, reflecting the need for more effective preventive measures. Hypothalamic circuits that control energy homeostasis in response to food intake are interesting targets for body-weight management, for example, through interventions that reinforce the gut-to-brain nutrient signalling, whose malfunction contributes to obesity. Gut microbiota–diet interactions might interfere in nutrient sensing and signalling from the gut to the brain, where the information is processed to control energy homeostasis. This gut microbiota–brain crosstalk is mediated by metabolites, mainly short chain fatty acids, secondary bile acids or amino acids-derived metabolites and subcellular bacterial components. These activate gut–endocrine and/or neural-mediated pathways or pass to systemic circulation and then reach the brain. Feeding time and dietary composition are the main drivers of the gut microbiota structure and function. Therefore, aberrant feeding patterns or unhealthy diets might alter gut microbiota–diet interactions and modify nutrient availability and/or microbial ligands transmitting information from the gut to the brain in response to food intake, thus impairing energy homeostasis. Herein, we update the scientific evidence supporting that gut microbiota is a source of novel dietary and non-dietary biological products that may beneficially regulate gut-to-brain communication and, thus, improve metabolic health. Additionally, we evaluate how the feeding time and dietary composition modulate the gut microbiota and, thereby, the intraluminal availability of these biological products with potential effects on energy homeostasis. The review also identifies knowledge gaps and the advances required to clinically apply microbiome-based strategies to improve the gut–brain axis function and, thus, combat obesity.
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