The intake of dietary indigestible fraction in the Spanish diet shows the limitations of dietary fibre data for nutritional studies

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To compare the intakes of dietary fibre (DF) and dietary indigestible fraction (DIF) in the Spanish diet and also to show the limitations of DF values for nutritional and epidemiological studies.


This includes the following: (i) estimation of plant foods consumption in Spanish diet from national food consumption data obtained from annual surveys (6000 households, 700 hotels and restaurants and 200 institutions); (ii) determination of DIF content in plant foods using analytical methods that mimic physiological conditions; (iii) estimation of daily intakes of DIF and DF in the Spanish diet.


DIF intake in the Spanish population was estimated at 41.5 g/person/day. DF intake (18.3 g/person/day) was considerably lower than the amount of carbohydrate necessary to maintain the daily bacterial cell turnover in large intestine ('carbohydrate gap'). The differences between DIF and DF values are a consequence of conceptual and methodological aspects. DIF, as the part of foods reaching the colon, comprises not only DF but also other indigestible compounds such as a fraction of resistant starch, protein, polyphenols and other associated compounds. Analytical conditions are closer to actual physiological conditions in the determination of DIF than in DF analysis.


DF intake underestimates a major part of the dietary substrates that enter the colon. DIF intake more closely matches the amount of substrates needed to maintain a typical human colonic microflora. DIF may be a good alternative to DF for nutritional and epidemiological studies.

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