The fiber sources are among multiple possibilities and were chosen to test a broad range of levels, Tappenden said. The soy fiber is different than the soy protein that is used in soy-based formulas for babies that are allergic to cow's milk.
After seven days, the piglets were infected with the salmonella strain that commonly occurs in infants. The piglets' activity and signs of illness were monitored for seven more days, after which the piglets small intestines and colons were evaluated.
"There was no change in body temperature among the piglets, but there was a reduced incidence of diarrhea, and the activity level was maintained for those on the higher fiber diets," Tappenden said. "The control animals and those that were fed the non-fermentable fiber developed severe diarrhea and became very lethargic. What that tells us is that it is not just fiber that is important, but fiber quality is very important and that we need a fermentable fiber."
In the experimental piglets, there were positive changes in the transport of nutrients. However, Tappenden said that her team might have waited too long into the recovery process to do the analysis, preventing an accurate determination of what the changes were and why they occurred.
"So now we are looking at the first 48 hours after infection," she said. "We know that fermentable fiber is doing something positive, but we still cannot say why. These new tests may help us answer that by looking at the conditions at the peak of infection."
Fibers are fermented in the body into short-chain fatty acids, which are short lipid molecules that are thought to be good fo
Contact: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign