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The digestion of pectin in the human gut and its effect on calcium absorption and large bowel function

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 December 2008

J. H. Cummings
Affiliation:
Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre, Addenbrookes Hospital, Trumpington Street, Cambridge
D. A. T. Southgate
Affiliation:
Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre, Addenbrookes Hospital, Trumpington Street, Cambridge
W. J. Branch
Affiliation:
Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre, Addenbrookes Hospital, Trumpington Street, Cambridge
H. S. Wiggins
Affiliation:
Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre, Addenbrookes Hospital, Trumpington Street, Cambridge
Hellen Houston
Affiliation:
MRC Gastroenterology Unit, Central Middlesex Hospital, LondonNW10
D. J. A. Jenkins
Affiliation:
MRC Gastroenterology Unit, Central Middlesex Hospital, LondonNW10
T. Jivraj
Affiliation:
Bacterial Metabolism Research Laboratory, Colindale Avenue, LondonNW9 5DX
M. J. Hill
Affiliation:
Bacterial Metabolism Research Laboratory, Colindale Avenue, LondonNW9 5DX
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Abstract

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1. The effect of dietary fibre digestion in the human gut on its ability to alter bowel habit and impair mineral absorption has been investigated using the technique of metabolic balance.

2. Five healthy male students were studied for 9 weeks under controlled dietary conditions and during the last 6 weeks they took 36 g pectin/d. Bowel habit, transit through the gut, faecal fibre excretion, calcium balance and faecal composition were measured.

3. During the control period only 15% of the dietary fibre ingested was excreted in the stools and when pectin was added to the diet there was no increase in fibre excretion. Stool frequency and mean transit time were unchanged by pectin but stool wet weight increased by 33% and faecal excretion increased (%) for fatty acids 80, nitrogen 47, total dry matter 28 and bile acids 35. Ca balance remained unchanged.

4. It may be concluded from these results that dietary fibre is largely metabolized in the human gut and dietary pectin completely so. This could explain its lack of effect on bowel habit and Ca balance. Other changes in the faeces may be related to an increase in bacterial mass.

Type
Papers of direct relevance to Clinical and Human Nutrition
Copyright
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 1979

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