British Journal of Nutrition

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Digestive physiological outcomes related to polydextrose and soluble maize fibre consumption by healthy adult men

Brittany M. Vester Bolera1, Mariana C. Rossoni Seraoa1, Laura L. Bauera1, Michael A. Staegera2, Thomas W. Boileaua2, Kelly S. Swansona1 and George C. Fahey Jra1 c1

a1 Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, 1207 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

a2 General Mills, Inc., Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, 9000 Plymouth Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55427, USA


The objective of the present study was to evaluate digestive physiological outcomes elicited by functional fibres fed to healthy adult men. A total of twenty-one healthy adult men were utilised in a cross-over design. Each subject received polydextrose (PDX) or soluble maize fibre (SCF) (21 g/d) or no supplemental fibre (no fibre control; NFC) in a snack bar. Periods were 21 d and faeces were collected during the last 5 d of each period. Food intake, including fibre intake, did not differ among treatments. Flatulence (P = 0·001) and distention (P = 0·07) were greatest when subjects consumed PDX or SCF. Reflux was greater (P = 0·04) when subjects consumed SCF compared with NFC. All tolerance scores were low ( < 2·5), indicating only slight discomfort. Faecal ammonia, 4-methylphenol, indole and branched-chain fatty acid concentrations were decreased (P < 0·01) when subjects consumed the functional fibre sources compared with NFC. Faecal acetate, propionate and butyrate concentrations were lower (P < 0·05) when subjects consumed PDX compared with SCF and NFC. Faecal pH was lower (P = 0·01) when subjects consumed SCF compared with NFC, while PDX was intermediate. Faecal wet weight was greatest (P = 0·03) when subjects consumed SCF compared with NFC. Faecal dry weight tended to be greater (P = 0·07) when subjects consumed PDX compared with NFC. The functional fibres led to 1·4 and 0·9 g (PDX and SCF, respectively) increases in faecal dry mass per g supplemental fibre intake. Bifidobacterium spp. concentrations were greater (P < 0·05) when subjects consumed SCF compared with NFC. These functional fibres appear to be beneficial to gut health while leading to minimal gastrointestinal upset.

(Received January 07 2011)

(Revised March 29 2011)

(Accepted March 29 2011)

(Online publication May 31 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr George C. Fahey Jr, fax +1 217 333 7861, email


Abbreviations: BCFA, branched-chain fatty acids; NFC, no supplemental fibre control; PDX, polydextrose; qPCR, quantitative PCR; SCF, soluble maize fibre