Purpose: Diets with increased protein content are popular strategies for body weight regulation, but the effect of such diets for the colonic luminal environment is unclear. We aimed to investigate the associations between putative colorectal cancer-related markers and total protein intake, plant and animal proteins, and protein from red and processed meat in pre-diabetic adults (> 25 years).
Methods: Analyses were based on clinical and dietary assessments at baseline and after 1 year of intervention. Protein intake was assessed from 4-day dietary records. Putative colorectal cancer-related markers identified from 24-h faecal samples collected over three consecutive days were: concentration of short-chain fatty acids, phenols, ammonia, and pH.
Results: In total, 79 participants were included in the analyses. We found a positive association between change in total protein intake (slope: 74.72 ± 28.84 µmol per g faeces/E%, p = 0.01), including animal protein intake (slope: 87.63 ± 32.04 µmol per g faeces/E%, p = 0.009), and change in faecal ammonia concentration. For change in ammonia, there was a dose-response trend from the most negative (lowest tertile) to the most positive (highest tertile) association (p = 0.01): in the high tertile, a change in intake of red meat was positively associated with an increase in ammonia excretion (slope: 2.0 ± 0.5 µmol per g faeces/g/day, p < 0.001), whereas no such association was found in the low and medium tertile groups.
Conclusion: Increases in total and animal protein intakes were associated with higher excretion of ammonia in faeces after 1 year in overweight pre-diabetic adults undertaking a weight-loss intervention. An increase in total or relative protein intake, or in the ratio of animal to plant protein, was not associated with an increase in faeces of any of the other putative colorectal cancer risk markers.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01777893.
Keywords: Ammonia; Dietary protein; Faecal; Phenols; SCFA; pH.