Prebiotic dietary fiber and gut health: Comparing the in vitro fermentations of beta-glucan, inulin and xylooligosaccharide

Justin L. Carlson, Jennifer M. Erickson, Julie M. Hess, Trevor J. Gould, Joanne L. Slavin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


Prebiotic dietary fiber supplements are commonly consumed to help meet fiber recommendations and improve gastrointestinal health by stimulating beneficial bacteria and the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), molecules beneficial to host health. The objective of this research project was to compare potential prebiotic effects and fermentability of five commonly consumed fibers using an in vitro fermentation system measuring changes in fecal microbiota, total gas production and formation of common SCFAs. Fecal donations were collected from three healthy volunteers. Materials analyzed included: pure beta-glucan, Oatwell (commercially available oat-bran containing 22% oat β-glucan), xylooligosaccharides (XOS), WholeFiber (dried chicory root containing inulin, pectin, and hemi/celluloses), and pure inulin. Oatwell had the highest production of propionate at 12 h (4.76 µmol/mL) compared to inulin, WholeFiber and XOS samples (p < 0.03). Oatwell’s effect was similar to those of the pure beta-glucan samples, both samples promoted the highest mean propionate production at 24 h. XOS resulted in a significant increase in the genus Bifidobacterium after 24 h of fermentation (0 h:0.67 OTUs (operational taxonomic unit); 24 h:5.22 OTUs; p = 0.038). Inulin and WholeFiber increased the beneficial genus Collinsella, consistent with findings in clinical studies. All analyzed compounds were fermentable and promoted the formation of beneficial SCFAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1361
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Dietary fiber
  • Fermentation
  • Microbiome
  • Microbiota
  • Prebiotic


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