Barley+ contains proteins, mono- and polyunsaturated fats, a range of carbohydrates (including non-starch polysaccharides and resistant starch), vitamins (thiamine, niacin, vitamin E), minerals (molybdenum, chromium, manganese, selenium, zinc, magnesium, copper and iron) and antioxidants (these may reduce the impact of damaging compounds such as free radicals (1)).
The gastrointestinal system processes or digests Barley+ and liberates the nutrients intrinsically present, ready for absorption and distribution by the circulatory system.
Barley+ digestion commences in mouth with mastication, which increases the surface area of Barley+ and allows greater enzyme access to the masticated products. Here, under the enzymatic activity of salivary amylase, carbohydrate digestion begins.
As Barley+ remnants move into the acidic environment of the stomach, pepsin and hydrochloric acid furthers the enzymatic digestion by breaking down the proteins into smaller polypeptides. Lingual lipase commences the enzymatic digestion of the healthy fats present in Barley+. The smaller fragments, together with the carbohydrates, intrinsic vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients present, then move into the small intestine for further digestion and then absorption.
In the small intestine, pancreatic proteases and lipase further breakdown the fragmented proteins and fats into smaller peptides and amino acids, monoglycerides and free fatty acids, facilitated by the fat digesting activity of bile released into the small intestine by the gall bladder. Small peptides and amino acids are essentially ready for absorption further along the small intestine. Fatty acids and monoglycerides form into micelles, which are taken up into the epithelial cells. Here, fatty acids and monoglycerides are repacked into triglycerides and with cholesterol, lipoproteins and other lipids formed into chylomicrons. These then get released via the lymph system into the blood.
Pancreatic amylase and other carbohydrate-digesting enzymes continue the breakdown of digestible carbohydrates, with the liberation of smaller carbohydrate units and then simple sugars. These simple sugars are further hydrolysed by brush border enzymes into their constituent monosaccharide units, which essentially make these ready for absorption. A possible exception to this is the cows’ milk-derived disaccharide lactose that might be consumed with Barley+; in people who do not produce sufficient lactase enzyme to break down all the lactose consumed, at least some lactose will continue its journey along the gastrointestinal tract to the large intestine, where it will undergo fermentation by resident gut bacteria.
Dietary fiber is a heterogeneous group of compounds comprising predominately carbohydrates and includes polysaccharides, oligosaccharides and lignin (a non-carbohydrate fiber). These can be grouped into 3 main fiber type families: 1) resistant starch; 2) soluble fiber; and 3) insoluble fiber. Dietary fiber means that fraction of the edible part of plants or their extracts, or synthetic analogues that: (a) is resistant to digestion and absorption in the small intestine, usually with complete or partial fermentation in the large intestine (Figure 1); and (b) promotes one or more of the following beneficial physiological effects: (i) laxation; (ii) reduction in blood cholesterol; (iii) modulation of blood glucose (2).
Main fiber type groups
The different fiber types impart various physiological effects and all are important to health. As digestion and absorption progress as described above, gastrointestinal smooth muscle contractions continuously mix luminal contents with digestive enzymes and move luminal contents through the tract, the rate of which is measured as gastrointestinal transit time. Dietary fibers like those in Barley+ influence a low glycemic response and LDL-cholesterol excretion, provide fermentable fibers for large bowel microbiota and increase gastrointestinal transit time to improve digestive function and laxation.