Eating about a quarter of a cup of strawberries a day can prevent intestinal inflammation and improve gut health, scientists say.
"The sedentary lifestyle and dietary habits of many people – high-sugar, high-animal fat, but low-fiber diets – can promote intestinal inflammation and increase the risk of bowel inflammation," said Hang Xiao, who was in charge of the study.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a series of painful conditions that can cause severe diarrhea and fatigue. Treatments can include medications and operations.
IBD includes both Crohn's disease, which can infect part of the gastrointestinal tract, and ulcerative colitis, which is characterized by inflammation of the colon and rectum.
People with IBD also have a higher risk of colorectal cancer.
Food consumption of fruit and vegetables has been associated with a reduced risk of IBD.
In order to establish an effective and practical approach to reducing intestinal inflammation in both IBD patients and the general population, researchers at the University of Amherst in the US focused on strawberries because of their wide consumption.
According to Yanhui Han, a PhD student who conducted the research, most of the earlier reports focused on the effects of purified compounds and extracts of strawberries.
"But if you only test the purified compounds and extracts, you miss a lot of other important components in the berries, such as dietary fiber, as well as phenolic compounds bonded to the fibers, which can not be extracted with solvents," he said.
In their experiment, researchers used four groups of mice – a group of healthy mice that used a regular diet, and three groups of mice with IBD using a regular diet, a diet with 2.5 percent whole strawberry powder or a diet with 5 percent whole strawberry powder.
Xiao said they were trying to give the mice doses of strawberries that would be in line with what a person could reasonably consume.
The researchers found that dietary consumption of whole strawberries at a dose corresponding to only three-quarters of a cup of strawberries a day in humans significantly suppressed symptoms such as body weight loss and bloody diarrhea in mice with IBD.
Strawberry treatments also reduced inflammatory reactions in the gut tissue of the mouse.
Colon inflammation has an adverse effect on the composition of the microbiota in the intestine. In IBD, the amount of harmful bacteria increases, while the amount of beneficial bacteria in the colon decreases.
After the diet treatments of whole strawberries, the researchers saw a reversal of that unhealthy microbiota composition in the IBD mice.
The team also received experimental data that showed that strawberries could potentially affect abnormal metabolic pathways in the IBD mice, which in turn could lead to reduced inflammation of the large intestine that they observed.
The team will then try to validate their findings in IBD patients.
(This story is not edited by Business Standard staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)