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Stable isotope applications to monitor starch digestion
and fermentation for the development of functional foods

Contract number : QLK1-2001-00431
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : € 1.782.370
EC contribution : € 1.664.253
Starting date : 1/01/2002
Duration : 48 Months
Scientific Officer : Jürgen Lucas
Project website :
Prof. Dr Roel J. Vonk
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Laboratory of Nutrition and Metabolism
Laboratory Centre CMC V, Y2147
Hanzeplein 1
9713 GZ Groningen
The Netherlands
Tel.: +31-50-3632675
Fax: +31-50-3611746

The aim of this project is to characterise the "metabolic quality" of carbohydrates, with the main focus on starch. With 13C-stable isotope techniques, 13C-glucose response to various 13C-starch sources will be studied, including functions that could modulate this response such as gastric emptying/intestinal transit time and digestion rates. These functions will be manipulated by addition of fat, protein, dietary fibre and enzyme inhibitors in order to optimise the glycaemic response.
Fermentation of 13C-starch in man will be characterised by measuring small intestinal bioavailability, 13C-short chain fatty acid production and bacterial flora. This project will lead to a rationale for the development of breakfast food or biscuits with the target groups of healthy people, diabetic patients and people at risk to diabetes and obesity.


The European network SIGN (Stable Isotopes in Gastroenterology and Nutrition) aims to develop techniques and protocols using stable isotopes. These isotopes can be applied without any risk in human subjects for monitoring digestive and metabolic functions and evaluation of digestion of food. 13C-enriched substrates will be developed and incorporated in breakfast products or biscuits. Parameters influencing the glycaemic response of these substrates and products will be studied in vitro and by measuring the 13C-glucose response in serum. For studying carbohydrate fermentation, new stable isotope techniques and new techniques for analysis of microflora will be developed and applied. The specific starch containing products will be evaluated in healthy volunteers and diabetic patients.

(expected) Results and achievements
  • Availability of 13C-labeled starch and food products;
  • Techniques for measuring starch digestion and fermentation;
  • Assessment of the "metabolic quality" of 13C-starch containing products in healthy volunteers and diabetic patients;
  • Health parameters related to industrial starch processing;
  • Scientific basis for recommendations for the development of starch based functional foods;
  • Definition of the role of the "glycaemic index" concept in communication strategies concerning healthy starch products.


Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine de Lyon
Hopital E. Herriot, Bt 1
Place d'Arsonval
69437 Lyon Cedex 03
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Department Pathophysiology
Herestraat 49
3000 Leuven
Groupe Danone
Danone Vitapole
15 Avenue Galilée
92350 Le Plessis-Robinson
Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine
CHU - Hôtel Dieu
44035 Nantes Cedex 1
University of Glasgow
Isotope Biochemistry Laboratory
Rankine Avenue
Scottish Enterprise Technology Park
East Kilbride
G75 0QF Glasgow
United Kingdom
Lund University
Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry
Getingevägen 60
PO Box 124
221 00 Lund

Fifth Framework Programme

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