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J Nutr. 1999 May;129(5):1002-9.

D-tagatose has low small intestinal digestibility but high large intestinal fermentability in pigs.

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Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Physiology, Research Center Foulum, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark.


The digestibility of D-tagatose, its effect on the digestibility of macronutrients and the metabolic response of the microbiota of the gastrointestinal tract to the ingestion of this carbohydrate were studied in pigs. Eight pigs were fed a low fiber diet comprising 15% sucrose (control group). Another eight pigs were fed a similar diet except that 100 g sucrose per kg diet was replaced by D-tagatose (test group). After 18 d, the pigs were killed and the gastrointestinal contents removed for analysis. The digestibility of D-tagatose was 25.8 +/- 5.6% in the distal third of the small intestine. The small intestinal digestibilities of dry matter (86.9 +/- 1.3 vs. 92.9 +/- 0.9%), gross energy (74.4 +/- 1.6 vs. 80.7 +/- 1.8%) and sucrose (90.4 +/- 2.5 vs. 98.0 +/- 0.5%) were lower (P < 0. 05) in the pigs fed D-tagatose. Digestibilities of starch, protein and fat did not differ between groups. D-Tagatose, sucrose and starch were fully digested in the large intestine. The fecal digestibilities of energy, dry matter and fat did not differ between the two groups, whereas D-tagatose reduced the fecal digestibility of protein (91.1 +/- 0.6 vs. 93.5 +/- 0.7%, P < 0.05). D-Tagatose served as a substrate for the microbiota in the cecum and proximal colon as indicated by a reduced pH, and a greater ATP concentration, adenylate energy charge (AEC) ratio and concentration of short-chain fatty acids. In particular, the increase in the concentrations of propionate, butyrate and valerate suggests possible health benefits of this monosaccharide.

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