The effect of high methoxy apple pectin, a carbohydrate gelling agent, on the intestinal absorption of glucose, water, and sodium was studied in man. The effect of intraluminal fibre was evaluated in 22 healthy volunteers by the intestinal perfusion technique under an occlusive balloon. The test solutions (NaCl 130 mM, KCl 5 mM, glucose or mannitol 30 mM, PEG 4000 5 g/l) were perfused just beyond the ligament of Treitz at a rate of 10 ml/min. A 25 cm segment was studied. Three concentrations of pectin were tested: 6, 10, and 15 g/l. The effect of this pectin at two concentrations, 6 and 10 g/l, on the jejunal unstirred layer thickness was evaluated in nine other healthy subjects by an electrical technique. In mannitol solution, pectin reversed water and sodium absorption, whatever its concentration was, while in glucose solution it significantly reduced absorption of water and sodium at 10 and 15 g/l only (p less than 0.01). It significantly reduced glucose absorption at all concentrations (p less than 0.01). This reduction was found to be correlated with the solution viscosity (p less than 0.01). Pectin did not alter the glucose dependent sodium transport but increased significantly (p less than 0.001) the unstirred layer thickness. These results suggested that, in healthy man, pectin acutely given may impair intestinal absorption by means of an increased unstirred layer resistance. This effect could contribute to the diminished postprandial glycaemia observed in human subjects fed pectin.
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