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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(sup1):S130-S152. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1542587. Epub 2018 Dec 22.

Nondigestible carbohydrates, butyrate, and butyrate-producing bacteria.

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a College of Food Science and Engineering , Ocean University of China , Qingdao , China.


Nondigestible carbohydrates (NDCs) are fermentation substrates in the colon after escaping digestion in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Among NDCs, resistant starch is not hydrolyzed by pancreatic amylases but can be degraded by enzymes produced by large intestinal bacteria, including clostridia, bacteroides, and bifidobacteria. Nonstarch polysaccharides, such as pectin, guar gum, alginate, arabinoxylan, and inulin fructans, and nondigestible oligosaccharides and their derivatives, can also be fermented by beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. Butyrate is one of the most important metabolites produced through gastrointestinal microbial fermentation and functions as a major energy source for colonocytes by directly affecting the growth and differentiation of colonocytes. Moreover, butyrate has various physiological effects, including enhancement of intestinal barrier function and mucosal immunity. In this review, several representative NDCs are introduced, and their chemical components, structures, and physiological functions, including promotion of the proliferation of butyrate-producing bacteria and enhancement of butyrate production, are discussed. We also describe the strategies for achieving directional accumulation of colonic butyrate based on endogenous generation mechanisms.


Nondigestible carbohydrates; butyrate; butyrate-producing bacteria; oligosaccharides; short-chain fatty acids

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