Abstract: The effects of red meat consumption with and without fermentable carbohydrates on indices of large bowel health in rats were examined. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed cellulose, potato fiber, or potato-resistant starch diets containing 12% casein for 2 wk, then similar diets containing 25% cooked beef for 6 wk. After week 8, cecal and colonic microbiota composition, fermentation end-products, colon structure, and colonocyte DNA damage were analyzed. Rats fed potato fiber had lower Bacteroides-Prevotella-Porphyromonas group compared to other diet groups. Colonic Bifidobacterium spp. and/or Lactobacillus spp. were higher in potato fiber and potato-resistant starch diets than in the cellulose diet. Beneficial changes were observed in short-chain fatty acid concentrations (acetic, butyric, and propionic acids) in rats fed potato fiber compared with rats fed cellulose. Phenol and p-cresol concentrations were lower in the cecum and colon of rats fed potato fiber. An increase in goblet cells per crypt and longer crypts were found in the colon of rats fed potato fiber and potato-resistant starch diets. Fermentable carbohydrates had no effect on colonic DNA damage. Dietary combinations of red meat with potato fiber or potato-resistant starch have distinctive effects in the large bowel. Future studies are essential to examine the efficacy of different types of nondigestible carbohydrates in maintaining colonic health during long-term consumption of high-protein diets.
Practical Application: Improved understanding of interactions between the food consumed and gut microbiota provides knowledge needed to make healthier food choices for large bowel health. The impact of red meat on large bowel health may be ameliorated by consuming with fermentable dietary fiber, a colonic energy source that produces less harmful by-products than the microbial breakdown of colonic protein for energy. Developing functional red meat products with fermentable dietary fiber could be one way to promote a healthy and balanced macronutrient diet.