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October 2021

Br J Nutr. 1998 Jun; 79(6): 495-500.

Faecal pH, bile acid and sterol concentrations in premenopausal Indian and white vegetarians compared with white omnivores.

Reddy S, Sanders TA, Owen RW, Thompson MH.

Nutrition Food & Health Research Centre, King's College London, UK. [email protected]

Faecal bulk, pH, water content, the concentrations of neutral sterols and bile acids and dietary intakes were measured in twenty-two Indian vegetarian, twenty-two white omnivorous and eighteen white vegetarian premenopausal women. Faecal bulk and water content were greater and pH lower in the Indian vegetarians. Total faecal animal sterol and coprostanol concentrations expressed on a dry-weight basis were lower in the vegetarians compared with the omnivores. The faecal sterol concentrations were correlated with dietary cholesterol intake. Primary bile acids were detected in six Indian vegetarians, two white vegetarians and two white omnivores; secondary bile acids were detected in all the white omnivores and vegetarian subjects but not in two of the Indian vegetarians. Total faecal free bile acid and conjugated bile acid concentrations were lower in the white vegetarians compared with the omnivores. Faecal lithocholic acid concentrations were lower in both Indian and white vegetarians. The lithocholic: deoxycholic acid ratio and coprostanol: total animal sterols ratio were significantly lower in the Indian vegetarians compared with the omnivores. Both ratios were positively correlated with faecal pH. Stepwise multiple regression analyses were undertaken in order to identify which nutrients influenced faecal pH, lithocholic and deoxycholic acid concentrations. The intakes of starch and dietary fibre were negatively associated with faecal concentrations of lithocholic and deoxycholic acid. Starch intake alone was negatively associated with faecal pH. The results of this study confirm that diets high in dietary fibre decrease faecal bile acid concentrations and suggest that the complex carbohydrates present in Indian vegetarian diets influence faecal pH and inhibit the degradation of faecal steroids.

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