Background: Barley contains abundant soluble beta-glucan fibers, which have established health benefits. In addition, the health benefits conferred by the gut bacteria have attracted considerable interest. However, few studies have focused on the barley consumption and gut bacteria of the Japanese population. In this study, we aimed to identify the relationship between the barley consumption and gut bacteria composition of the Japanese population. Methods: In total, 236 participants were recruited in Japan, and 94 participants with no complications of diabetes, hypertension, or dyslipidemia were selected for the study. We analyzed fecal samples from the participants, their medical check-up results, and responses to questionnaires about dietary habits. The participants were grouped according to their median barley consumption. Then, we assessed the relative abundance of 50 genera. Characteristic bacteria were evaluated for their relationship with barley consumption by multiple regression analysis, adjusted for disease and dietary habits, in all participants. We also analyzed the networks and clustering of the 20 selected genera. Results: According to the comparison between barley groups, Bifidobacterium, Butyricicoccus, Collinsella, Ruminococcus 2, and Dialister were characteristic candidate bacterias of the group that consumed large amounts of barley (P < 0.05). The relationship between barley consumption and Bifidobacterium remained after adjusting for disease and dietary habits, and that of Butyricicoccus remained after adjusting for disease. Furthermore, network and cluster analyses revealed that barley consumption was directly correlated with Bifidobacterium and Butyricicoccus. Conclusions: Barley consumption generates changes in the intestinal bacteria of the Japanese population. We found that Bifidobacterium and Butyricicoccus abundance was positively associated with barley consumption.
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