The influence of dietary fiber source on human intestinal transit and stool output

J Nutr. 1983 Aug;113(8):1464-79. doi: 10.1093/jn/113.8.1464.


Wheat bran ground to a coarse and fine particle size, purified cellulose and ethanol-extracted cabbage fiber, fed to 24 adult males during an 80-day metabolic trial, were examined for effects on intestinal transit time, laxation and stool composition. Brilliant blue, plastic pellets, polyethylene glycol (PEG)-4000 and Cr(III) mordanted onto isolated bran fiber were simultaneously administered for transit measurements. Intersubject variability in response to fiber source was highly significant for all transit and stool measurements. Only coarse bran or cellulose addition increased transit speed (decreased transit time) over basal rates. Grinding of bran significantly reduced fecal output because of reduced fecal water. Only subjects consuming cellulose or fine bran reported difficult or uncomfortable defecations. Though cabbage produced the smallest fecal output, stools had a high moisture content comparable to those obtained from coarse bran, which suggests a large microbial output in response to a fermentable substrate. Significant negative correlations were produced when changes in dry matter or cell wall intakes were regressed with Cr (III) transit. These findings suggest that the level of either food or fiber in the diet are variables that influence intestinal transit time and should be controlled in studies measuring it. Increases in fiber intake linearly increased fecal output of water and dry matter. Regression slopes were characteristic of each fiber source.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brassica
  • Defecation / drug effects*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Feces* / analysis
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Particle Size
  • Time Factors
  • Water / analysis


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Water