Objective: Stool diluting effects of relatively inert material, such as unfermentable dietary fiber, has been proposed as an effect of fiber beneficial to the colon. Stool dilution by increasing bacterial mass may be beneficial or deleterious, depending on bacterial metabolic products. The purpose of this study was to determine the basis for stool weight when two stepwise increases of fiber from all classes of fiber-containing foods were consumed.
Methods: Stool from five men consuming three constant diets containing 15, 30 and 42 g/d of dietary fiber were fractionated into plant material and bacteria and analyzed for neutral and amino sugar content. Fecal nitrogen, fat and ash were measured.
Results: Daily gravimetric yield and sugar content of the plant fraction from stool increased with each fiber addition. Compared to the low fiber diet, the medium fiber diet decreased the concentration of the bacterial mass in wet stool by 11% and the high fiber diet by an additional 32%. The high fiber diet decreased stool fat concentration; the medium and high fiber diets decreased stool nitrogen concentration to the same extent. Apparent digestibility of plant-derived neutral sugars decreased with each fiber addition.
Conclusions: Inherently less fermentable plant material modulates the colon environment in three beneficial ways: it is a relatively unreactive diluent of lumenal contents; it adds mass to promote distal movement of waste; it does not promote a large bacterial mass.