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Interpretive Summary: Supplementation with artificial sweetener and capsaicin alters metabolic flexibility and performance in heat-stressed and feed-restricted pigs

By: Kellie A Kroscher, Dane W Fausnacht, Ryan P McMillan, Samer W El-Kadi, Emma H Wall, David M Bravo, Robert P Rhoads

Heat stress reduces pig performance due to metabolic responses to heat. During heat stress, pigs lose the ability to metabolize fatty acids for energy and rely on carbohydrates to fuel growth. Evidence has shown that capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, interacts with heat-sensing receptors to protect against heat stress by preventing changes to metabolism. Artificial sweeteners can also preserve fat metabolism by inducing the secretion of metabolic regulatory hormones from the gut. This study examined a combination of capsaicin and artificial sweetener to restore growth and maintain metabolism during 3 wk of heat stress. As pigs often reduce their feed intake during heat stress, a group of pigs was feed restricted to match the reduced feeding observed in the heat-stressed pigs. Pigs given the feed supplement during heat stress maintained their metabolic flexibility, a measure of metabolic health. In agreement with previous short-term studies, the capsaicin and artificial sweetener supplement improved feed efficiency and weight gain in feed-restricted pigs. This study demonstrated that supplementation with capsaicin and artificial sweetener may prevent metabolic dysfunction during heat stress. This study also confirmed that supplementation with capsaicin and artificial sweetener does improve feed-restricted pigs’ growth and feed efficiency.

Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.