To date, nutritional studies have focused on the total intake of dietary fiber rather than intake timing. In this study, we examined the effect of the timing of daily Helianthus tuberosus ingestion on postprandial and 24 h glucose levels, as well as on intestinal microbiota in older adults. In total, 37 healthy older adults (age = 74.9 ± 0.8 years) were recruited. The participants were randomly assigned to either a morning group (MG, n = 18) or an evening group (EG, n = 17). The MG and EG groups were instructed to take Helianthus tuberosus powder (5 g/day) just before breakfast or dinner, respectively, for 1 week after the 1-week control period. The glucose levels of all participants were monitored using a continuous glucose monitoring system throughout the 2 weeks. The intestinal microbiota was analyzed by sequencing 16S rRNA genes from feces before and after the intervention. There were no significant differences in the physical characteristics or energy intake between groups. Helianthus tuberosus intake led to decreases in tissue glucose levels throughout the day in both groups (p < 0.01, respectively). As a result of examining the fluctuations in tissue glucose levels up to 4 hours after each meal, significant decreases in the areas under the curves (AUCs) were observed for all three meals after intervention, but only in the MG (breakfast: p = 0.012, lunch: p = 0.002, dinner: p = 0.005). On the other hand, in the EG, there was a strong decrease in the AUC after dinner, but only slight decreases after breakfast and lunch (breakfast: p = 0.017, lunch: p = 0.427, dinner: p = 0.002). Moreover, the rate of change in the peak tissue glucose level at breakfast was significantly decreased in the MG compared to the EG (p = 0.027). A greater decrease was observed in the change in the blood glucose level after the ingestion of Helianthus tuberosus in the MG than in the EG. Furthermore, the relative abundance of Ruminococcus in the MG at the genus level was significantly higher at baseline than in the EG (p = 0.016) and it was also significantly lower after the intervention (p = 0.013). Our findings indicate that Helianthus tuberosus intake in the morning might have relatively stronger effects on the intestinal microbiota and suppress postprandial glucose levels to a greater extent than when taken in the evening.
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