Food Science and Technology Department


Department of Food Science and Technology: Faculty Publications

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GUT MICROBES 2024, VOL. 16, NO. 1, 2363021


Open access.


Dietary fiber supplements are a strategy to close the ‘fiber gap’ and induce targeted modulations of the gut microbiota. However, higher doses of fiber supplements cause gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms that differ among individuals. What determines these inter-individual differences is insufficiently understood. Here we analyzed findings from a six-week randomized controlled trial that evaluated GI symptoms to corn bran arabinoxylan (AX; n = 15) relative to non-fermentable microcrystalline cellulose (MCC; n = 16) at efficacious supplement doses of 25 g/day (females) or 35 g/day (males) in adults with excess weight. Self-reported flatulence, bloating, and stomach aches were evaluated weekly. Bacterial taxa involved in AX fermentation were identified by bioorthogonal non-canonical amino acid tagging. Associations between GI symptoms, fecal microbiota features, and diet history were systematically investigated. AX supplementation increased symptoms during the first three weeks relative to MCC (p < 0.05, Mann-Whitney tests), but subjects ‘adapted’ with symptoms reverting to baseline levels toward the end of treatment. Symptom adaptations were individualized and correlated with the relative abundance of Bifidobacterium longum at baseline (rs = 0.74, p = 0.002), within the bacterial community that utilized AX (rs = 0.69, p = 0.006), and AX-induced shifts in acetate (rs = 0.54, p = 0.039). Lower baseline consumption of animal-based foods and higher whole grains associated with less severity and better adaptation. These findings suggest that humans do ‘adapt’ to tolerate efficacious fiber doses, and this process is linked to their microbiome and dietary factors known to interact with gut microbes, providing a basis for the development of strategies for improved tolerance of dietary fibers.

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