Aims: In vitro studies have suggested that fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and resistant starch (two fermentable non-digestible carbohydrates) display different fermentation kinetics. This study investigated whether these substrates affect the metabolic activity and bacterial composition of the intestinal microflora differently depending on the caecocolonic segment involved.
Methods and results: Eighteen rats were fed a low-fibre diet (Basal) or the same diet containing raw potato starch (RPS) (9%) or short-chain FOS (9%) for 14 days. Changes in wet-content weights, bacterial populations and metabolites were investigated in the caecum, proximal and distal colon and faeces. Both substrates exerted a prebiotic effect compared with the Basal diet. However, FOS increased lactic acid-producing bacteria (LAPB) throughout the caecocolon and in faeces, whereas the effect of RPS was limited to the caecum and proximal colon. As compared with RPS, FOS doubled the pool of caecal fermentation products, while the situation was just the opposite distally. This difference was mainly because of the anatomical distribution of lactate, which accumulated in the caecum with FOS and in the distal colon with RPS. Faeces reflected these impacts only partly, showing the prebiotic effect of FOS and the metabolite increase induced by RPS.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that FOS and RPS exert complementary caecocolonic effects.
Significance and impact of the study: The RPS and FOS combined ingestion could be beneficial by providing health-promoting effects throughout the caecocolon.