Urinary carbohydrates as an indicator of digestion and absorption of dietary fiber in a monogastric animal

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The absorption of free carbohydrates produced by digestion of dietary fiber in monogastric animals was investigated. Previous studies have shown that dietary fiber is partially digested by monogastric animals in its passage through the alimentary canal. However, the ability of monogastric animals to absorb the products of digestion of dietary fiber is uncertain.

Male rats of the Sprague-Dawley strain were fed a refined carbohydrate diet in which sucrose comprised 66.6 percent. The urine of rats fed this diet contained only sucrose and its component monosaccharides, glucose and fructose, indicating that the carbohydrate composition of urine reflects the carbohydrate composition of the diet.

The rats were then fed diets containing 5 percent guar gum (a galactomannan), 10 percent xylan (a polymer of xylose), or 10 percent wheat bran. The appearance in the urine of the component carbohydrates of the ingested dietary fiber was used as an indication of the absorption of the carbohydrates derived from fiber digestion.

The urine of rats fed guar gum contained galactose. Rats fed xylan excreted xylose in the urine. Xylose and arabinose were identified in the urine of rats fed wheat bran.

It is postulated that the polysaccharides of dietary fiber are degraded to simple sugars by bacteria in the colon. The results of this study indicate that free carbohydrates produced by digestion of dietary fiber are absorbed in monogastric animals.

The potential nutritional and toxicological effects of the absorption of the carbohydrate components of dietary fiber are discussed.