The consumption of nondigestible carbohydrates is perceived as beneficial by health professionals and the general public, but the translation of this information into dietary practice, public health recommendations, and regulatory policy has proved difficult. Nondigestible carbohydrates are a heterogeneous entity, and their definition is problematic. Without a means to characterize the dietary components associated with particular health benefits, specific attributions of these cannot be made. Food labeling for "fiber" constituents can be given only in a general context, and the development of health policy, dietary advice, and education, and informed public understanding of nondigestible carbohydrates are limited. There have, however, been several important developments in our thinking about nondigestible carbohydrates during the past few years. The concept of fiber has expanded to include a range of nondigestible carbohydrates. Their fermentation, fate, and effects in the colon have become a defining characteristic; human milk, hitherto regarded as devoid of nondigestible carbohydrates, is now recognized as a source for infants, and the inclusion of nondigestible carbohydrates in the diet has been promoted for their "prebiotic" effects. Therefore, a review of the importance of nondigestible carbohydrates in the diets of infants and young children is timely. The aims of this commentary are to clarify the current definitions of nondigestible carbohydrates, to review published evidence for their biochemical, physiologic, nutritional, and clinical effects, and to discuss issues involved in defining dietary guidelines for infants and young children.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 2003|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Food Science
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health