The purpose of this study is to summarize water, carbohydrate (CHO), and electrolyte absorption from carbohydrate- electrolyte (CHO-E) solutions based on all of the triple-lumen-perfusion studies in humans since the early 1960s. The current statistical analysis included 30 reports from which were obtained information on water absorption, CHO absorption, total solute absorption, CHO concentration, CHO type, osmolality, sodium concentration, and sodium absorption in the different gut segments during exercise and at rest. Mean differences were assessed using independent-samples t tests. Exploratory multiple-regression analyses were conducted to create prediction models for intestinal water absorption. The factors influencing water and solute absorption are carefully evaluated and extensively discussed. The authors suggest that in the human proximal small intestine, water absorption is related to both total solute and CHO absorption; osmolality exerts various impacts on water absorption in the different segments; the multiple types of CHO in the ingested CHO-E solutions play a critical role in stimulating CHO, sodium, total solute, and water absorption; CHO concentration is negatively related to water absorption; and exercise may result in greater water absorption than rest. A potential regression model for predicting water absorption is also proposed for future research and practical application. In conclusion, water absorption in the human small intestine is influenced by osmolality, solute absorption, and the anatomical structures of gut segments. Multiple types of CHO in a CHO-E solution facilitate water absorption by stimulating CHO and solute absorption and lowering osmolality in the intestinal lumen.
Shi is with Gatorade Sports Science Institute, PepsiCo Inc., Barrington, IL. Passe is with Scout Consulting, Hebron, IL.