Dietary fiber, an important regulator of intestinal microbiota, is a promising tool for preventing obesity and related metabolic disorders. However, the functional links between dietary fiber, intestinal microbiota, and obesity phenotype are still not fully understood. Combined soluble fiber (CSF) is a synthetic mixture of polysaccharides and displays high viscosity, water-binding capacity, swelling capacity, and fermentability. We found that supplementing high-fat diet (HFD) with 6% CSF significantly improved the insulin sensitivity of obese mice without affecting their body weight. Replacing the HFD with normal chow basal diet (NCD), the presence of CSF in the feed significantly enhanced satiety, decreased energy intake, promoted weight and fat loss, and augmented insulin sensitivity. CSF also improved the intestinal morphological integrity, attenuated systemic inflammation, promoted intestinal microbiota homeostasis, and stabilized the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that was perturbed during HFD-induced obesity, and these stabilizing effects were more prominent when the basal diet was switched to NCD. The enrichment of bacteria of the S24-7 family and Allobaculum
genus increased markedly in the intestine following 6% CSF supplementation- and correlated with decreased adiposity and insulin resistance. Five bacterial genera that were decreased by CSF, including Oscillospira
, unclassified Lachonospitaceae, unclassified Clostridiales, unclassified Desulfovibrionaceae, and unclassified Ruminococcae, were subjected to co-occurrence network analysis and were positively correlated to adiposity and insulin resistance, indicating a key role in the microbial response to CSF. Thus, CSF has a potential to promote insulin sensitivity and even reduce obesity via beneficial regulation of the gut microecosystem.
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