1. Experiments were carried out in human volunteers to investigate the mechanism by which guar gum improves glucose tolerance.
2. Guar reduced both plasma glucose and insulin responses to an oral glucose load, and delayed gastric emptying. However, there was no correlation between changes in individual blood glucose responses and changes in gastric emptying rates induced by guar.
3. With a steady-state perfusion technique, glucose absorption was found to be significantly reduced during perfusion of the jejunum with solutions containing guar, but returned to control values during subsequent guar-free perfusions.
4. Preperfusing the intestine with guar did not affect electrical measurements of unstirred layer thickness in the human jejunum in vivo..
5. Experiments in vitro established that glucose diffusion out of a guar/glucose mixture was delayed under conditions of constant stirring.
6. We conclude that guar improves glucose tolerance predominantly by reducing glucose absorption in the small intestine. It probably does this by inhibiting the effects of intestinal motility on fluid convection.