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J Nutr. 2011 May;141(5):883-9. doi: 10.3945/jn.110.128504. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Fecal butyrate levels vary widely among individuals but are usually increased by a diet high in resistant starch.

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Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Preventative Health National Research Flagship, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.


Butyrate and other SCFA produced by bacterial fermentation of resistant starch (RS) or nonstarch polysaccharides (NSP) promote human colonic health. To examine variation in fecal variables, especially butyrate, among individuals and the response to these fibers, a randomized cross-over study was conducted that compared the effects of foods supplying 25 g of NSP or 25 g of NSP plus 22 g of RS/d over 4 wk in 46 healthy adults (16 males, 30 females; age 31-66 y). Fecal SCFA levels varied widely among participants at entry (butyrate concentrations: 3.5-32.6 mmol/kg; butyrate excretions: 0.3-18.2 mmol/48 h). BMI explained 27% of inter-individual butyrate variation, whereas protein, starch, carbohydrate, fiber, and fat intake explained up to 16, 6, 2, 4, and 2% of butyrate variation, respectively. Overall, acetate, butyrate, and total SCFA concentrations were higher when participants consumed RS compared with entry and NSP diets, but individual responses varied. Individual and total fecal SCFA excretion, weight, and moisture were higher than those for habitual diets when either fiber diet was consumed. SCFA concentrations (except butyrate) and excretions were higher for males than for females. Butyrate levels increased in response to RS in most individuals but often decreased when entry levels were high. Fecal butyrate and ammonia excretions were positively associated ((2) = 0.76; P < 0.001). In conclusion, fecal butyrate levels vary widely among individuals but consuming a diet high in RS usually increases levels and may help maintain colorectal health.

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