• Resistant starch;
  • starch fermentation;
  • gut microflora;
  • volatile fatty acids


Cooking and processing of starch-containing foodstuffs results in a portion of the starch becoming resistant to hydrolytic enzymes secreted in the small intestine of man. In order to determine whether this resistant starch (RS) was degraded in the colon, samples of RS and readily digestible starch (RDS) for comparisons were incubated with (a) cell-free supernatants from faecal suspensions and (b) washed faecal bacterial cell suspensions. The data obtained showed that, whereas pancreatic amylase and faecal supernatants hydrolysed RDS, with the production of oligosaccharides, RS totally resisted breakdown. In contrast, both RS and RDS were completely degraded by the washed bacterial cells with the generation of volatile fatty acids (VFA) and organic acids. Hydrolysis and fermentation of RDS was extremely rapid and, as a consequence, oligosaccharides and lactate initially accumulated in the culture medium. RS was broken down more slowly, howevér, and oligosaccharides and lactate never accumulated. The rate of polysaccharide hydrolysis had a significant effect on the quantities of VFA produced, in that 54% of carbohydrate was fermented to VFA in cultures incubated with RDS as sole carbon source as compared to only 30% in cultures incubated with RS. However no qualitative difference was observed in the VFA produced by fermentation of RDS or RS.