Dietary fiber (DF) is an intrinsic component in plant feedstuffs that has been associated with physiological, structural, and functional changes in the gastrointestinal tract. DF is composed of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP), oligosaccharides, and lignin that scape digestion and enzymatic hydrolysis. In general terms, fiber can be classified as insoluble or soluble based on their solubility in water. Both fiber types have direct nutritional implications in broiler diets. Inclusion of insoluble DF in broiler diets modulates intestinal morphology, digestive organ development, nutrient absorption, growth performance, and intestinal microbiota. Soluble DF is thought to increase intestinal viscosity and is associated with negative changes in intestinal microflora and reduction in nutrient absorption. Nevertheless, there is a group of soluble fibers, integrated by oligosaccharides, that function as prebiotics positively modulating intestinal microbiota. Due to the changes in chemical structure and subsequent variation in functionality, it is a difficult task to assign clear attributes to DF as a whole. Therefore, the following review paper compiles data from research conducted using DF and tries to unify such information into practical decisions to be considered when using DF as a functional nutrient in poultry nutrition.
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