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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jul;64(7):678-84. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.92. Epub 2010 May 26.

Influence of the type of indigestible carbohydrate on plasma and urine short-chain fatty acid profiles in healthy human volunteers.

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Department of Gastrointestinal Research and Leuven Food and Nutrition Research Centre (LFoRCe), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.



Health effects of whole grain foods are becoming more evident. In this study, we analysed the short-chain fatty acid profiles in urine and serum derived from the colonic fermentation process of (13)C-barley meals, prepared from barley grown under (13)CO(2) atmosphere.


In a crossover study, five volunteers ingested intact barley kernels (high content of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) and resistant starch (RS)) and barley porridge (high content of NSP only). Using a newly developed stable isotope technology, we monitored 14 and 24 h postprandially (13)C-acetate, (13)C-propionate and (13)C-butyrate in plasma and urine, respectively. The oro-cecal transit time (OCTT) of the meals was measured with the hydrogen breath test.


The OCTT was 6 h and did not differ between the two test meals. An increase of (13)C-acetate was observed already early after ingestion of the meals (<6 h) and was attributed to early fermentation of the test meal. A rise in plasma (13)C-propionate in the fermentation phase could only be detected after the porridge and not after the kernel meal. An increase in (13)C-butyrate was only found in the fermentation phase and was higher after the barley kernels. Urine (13)C-short-chain fatty acids data were consistent with these observations.


The difference in the profiles of (13)C-acetate, (13)C-propionate and (13)C-butyrate indicates that NSP combined with RS results in an altered fermentation profile than dietary fibre alone.

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