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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Fiber effects in nutrition and gut health in pigs

Lindberg, Jan Erik


Dietary fiber is associated with impaired nutrient utilization and reduced net energy values. However, fiber has to be included in the diet to maintain normal physiological functions in the digestive tract. Moreover, the negative impact of dietary fiber will be determined by the fiber properties and may differ considerably between fiber sources. Various techniques can be applied to enhance nutritional value and utilization of available feed resources. In addition, the extent of fiber utilization is affected by the age of the pig and the pig breed. The use of potential prebiotic effects of dietary fiber is an attractive way to stimulate gut health and thereby minimize the use of anti-microbial growth promoters. Inclusion of soluble non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) in the diet can stimulate the growth of commensal gut microbes. Inclusion of NSP from chicory results in changes in gut micro-environment and gut morphology of pigs, while growth performance remains unaffected and digestibility was only marginally reduced. The fermentation products and pH in digesta responded to diet type and were correlated with shifts in the microbiota. Interestingly, fiber intake will have an impact on the expression of intestinal epithelial heat-shock proteins in the pig. Heat-shock proteins have an important physiological role in the gut and carry out crucial housekeeping functions in order to maintain the mucosal barrier integrity. Thus, there are increasing evidence showing that fiber can have prebiotic effects in pigs due to interactions with the gut micro-environment and the gut associated immune system.


Breed; Gut health; Fiber; Pigs; Prebiotics; Utilization

Published in

Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology
2014, volume: 5, article number: 15

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

Publication Identifiers


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