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White kidney bean extract (WKBE) is a nutraceutical often advocated as an anti-obesity agent. The main proposed mechanism for these effects is alpha-amylase inhibition, thereby slowing carbohydrate digestion and absorption. Thus, it is possible that WKBE could impact the gut microbiota and modulate gut health. We investigated the effects of supplementing 20 healthy adults with WKBE for 1 week in a randomised, placebo-controlled crossover trial on the composition of the gut microbiota, gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation (faecal calprotectin), GI symptoms, and stool habits. We conducted in vitro experiments and used a gut model system to explore potential inhibition of alpha-amylase. We gained qualitative insight into participant experiences of using WKBE via focus groups. WKBE supplementation decreased the relative abundance of Bacteroidetes and increased that of Firmicutes, however, there were no significant differences in post-intervention gut microbiota measurements between the WKBE and control. There were no significant effects on GI inflammation or symptoms related to constipation, or stool consistency or frequency. Our in vitro and gut model system analyses showed no effects of WKBE on alpha-amylase activity. Our findings suggest that WKBE may modulate the gut microbiota in healthy adults, however, the underlying mechanism is unlikely due to active site inhibition of alpha-amylase.
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