Wholegrain barley β-glucan fermentation does not improve glucose tolerance in rats fed a high-fat diet

Damien P Belobrajdic, Stephen A Jobling, Matthew K Morell, Shin Taketa, Anthony R Bird
Nutrition Research 2015, 35 (2): 162-8
Fermentation of oat and barley β-glucans is believed to mediate in part their metabolic health benefits, but the exact mechanisms remain unclear. In this study, we sought to test the hypothesis that barley β-glucan fermentation raises circulating incretin hormone levels and improves glucose control, independent of other grain components. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 30) were fed a high-fat diet for 6 weeks and then randomly allocated to 1 of 3 dietary treatments for 2 weeks. The low- (LBG, 0% β-glucan) and high- (HBG, 3% β-glucan) β-glucan diets contained 25% wholegrain barley and similar levels of insoluble dietary fiber, available carbohydrate, and energy. A low-fiber diet (basal) was included for comparison. Immediately prior to the dietary intervention, gastric emptying rate (using the (13)C-octanoic breath test) and postprandial glycemic response of each diet were determined. At the end of the study, circulating gut hormone levels were determined; and a glucose tolerance test was performed. The rats were then killed, and indices of cecal fermentation were assessed. Diet did not affect live weight; however, the HBG diet, compared to basal and LBG, reduced food intake, tended to slow gastric emptying, increased cecal digesta mass and individual and total short-chain fatty acid pools, and lowered digesta pH. In contrast, circulating levels of glucose, insulin, gastric-inhibitory peptide, and glucagon-like peptide-1, and glucose tolerance were unaffected by diet. In conclusion, wholegrain barley β-glucan suppressed feed intake and increased cecal fermentation but did not improve postprandial glucose control or insulin sensitivity.

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