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Switching to a fibre-rich and low-fat diet increases colonic folate contents among African Americans

Chan, Yen-Ming, Aufreiter, Susanne, O’Keefe, Stephen J., O’Connor, Deborah L.
Applied physiology, nutrition and metabolism 2019 v.44 no.2 pp. 127-132
African Americans, Africans, Western diets, biosynthesis, carbohydrates, eating habits, folic acid, low fat diet, normal values
How dietary patterns impact colonic bacterial biosynthesis of vitamins and utilization by humans is poorly understood. Our aim was to investigate whether a reciprocal dietary switch between rural South Africans (traditionally high fibre, low fat) and African Americans (Western diet of low fibre, high fat) affects colonic folate synthesis. Colonic evacuants were obtained from 20 rural South Africans and 20 African Americans consuming their usual diets at baseline. For 2 weeks thereafter, rural South Africans were provided with a Western diet (protein, 27%; fat, 52%; carbohydrate, 20%; and fibre, 8 g/day) and African Americans were provided with a high fibre, low-fat diet (protein, 16%; fat, 17%; carbohydrate, 63%; and fibre, 43 g/day). Colonic evacuants were again collected. No difference between groups at baseline in the folate content of 3-h evacuants was observed. The high-fibre, low-fat diet consumed by African Americans during the intervention produced a 41% increase in mean total folate content compared with baseline values (p = 0.0037). No change was observed in rural South Africans consuming a Western diet. Mean total folate content of colonic evacuants was higher among African Americans at the end of the dietary switch (3107 ± 1811 μg) compared with rural South Africans (2157 ± 1956 μg) (p = 0.0409). In conclusion, consistent with animal studies, switching from a Western diet to one higher in fibre and lower in fat can be expected to result in greater colonic folate content. Future research should confirm that these observations are not transitory and understand the contribution of transit-time to the findings.