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The World Health Organization published in 2015 a Guideline on Sugar Intake for adults and children where the main recommendation was to reduce the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake, with a ...

The World Health Organization published in 2015 a Guideline on Sugar Intake for adults and children where the main recommendation was to reduce the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake, with a conditional recommendation for further reduction to below 5% of total energy intake. Different policy-makers have rapidly taken into account these recommendations and some governments have introduced tax on sugary drinks, among other measures developed to decrease the intake of free sugars.

As a result, the interest in the use of non-digestible or slow-digestible carbohydrates as food ingredients is increasing since their intake is linked with a reduced risk of common chronic Western diseases associated with central obesity and insulin resistance. The attention to this type of carbohydrates is also reinforced by the fact that regulatory agencies have acknowledged that the consumption of foods/drinks, in which slowly or non-digestible carbohydrates replace simple sugars, reduces post-prandial glycemic and insulinemic responses. This effect may be attributed to the resistance of these carbohydrates to hydrolysis and absorption in the small intestine, thus, being available in the large intestine as substrates for fermentation by gut microbiota. This alteration in the digestion fate in the gastrointestinal tract has consequential metabolic effects on the gut microbiome and host physiology.

In this context, a rigorous review of the current state of the science to understand the relationship between carbohydrate physicochemical structure, resistance to gastrointestinal digestion, gut microbial fermentation and host metabolism and physiology is essential to develop effective dietary intervention strategies to improve human health through the manipulation of the microbiota.

This Research Topic aims to cover different areas mainly related to:

i) Carbohydrate chemistry and elucidation of the key structural features conferring resistance to mammalian gastrointestinal digestion;
ii) Metabolism of slowly or non-digestible carbohydrates (mainly focused on glycemic response, interaction with gut microbiota and other target organs/systems, for instance, immune system, gut-brain axis, etc.);
iii) Production of novel slowly or non-digestible carbohydrates and related compounds.
iv) What new technologies are needed to assess physiological change or health impact related to the metabolism of non-digestible carbohydrate (e.g. biomarkers, probes, imaging, etc).
v) What are the challenges, limitations and future research needs in this field.

To tackle these topics, the Research Topic should include mainly high-quality Original Research articles, and also selected Mini Review articles covering focused aspects of the described area of investigation and recent developments, written in a succinct way and showing a clear summary of the topic, allowing readers to get up-to-date on new developments and/or emerging concepts.

Image credit: Sofia San Claudio

Keywords: Prebiotics, Probiotics, Metabolic syndrome, Carbohydrate engineering, Carbohydrate digestion, Glycemic responses, Insulinemic responses, Non-digestible carbohydrates, Slowly digestible carbohydrates, Gut microbiota, Mammalian digestive enzymes

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