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Bacteria, Colonic Fermentation, and Gastrointestinal Health

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The colonic microbiota plays an important role in human digestive physiology and makes a significant contribution to homeostasis in the large bowel. The microbiome probably comprises thousands of different bacterial species. The principal metabolic activities of colonic microorganisms are associated with carbohydrate and protein digestion. Nutrients of dietary and host origin support the growth of intestinal organisms. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), predominantly acetate, propionate, and butyrate, are the principal metabolites generated during the catabolism of carbohydrates and proteins. In contrast, protein digestion yields a greater diversity of end products, including SCFAs, amines, phenols, indoles, thiols, CO2, H2, and H2S, many of which have toxic properties. The majority of SCFAs are absorbed from the gut and metabolized in various body tissues, making a relatively small but significant contribution to the body's daily energy requirements. Carbohydrate fermentation is, for the most part, a beneficial process in the large gut, because the growth of saccharolytic bacteria stimulates their requirements for toxic products associated with putrefaction, for incorporation into cellular proteins, thereby protecting the host. However, as digestive materials move along the gut, carbohydrates become depleted, which may be linked to the increased prevalence of colonic disease in the distal bowel.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2012

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL publishes refereed papers and reviews in the fields of chemical, biological and toxicological analytical chemistry for the purpose of showcasing the most precise, accurate and sensitive methods for analysis of foods, food additives, supplements and contaminants, cosmetics, drugs, toxins, hazardous substances, pesticides, feeds, fertilizers and the environment available at that point in time. The scope of the Journal includes unpublished original research describing new analytical methods, techniques and applications; improved approaches to sampling, both in the field and the laboratory; better methods of preparing samples for analysis; collaborative studies substantiating the performance of a given method; statistical techniques for evaluating data. The Journal will also publish other articles of general interest to its audience, e.g., technical communications; cautionary notes; comments on techniques, apparatus, and reagents.
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