Healthy living

Blueberries help prevent gut disease

Zone default image Best eaten with yogurt

Because they are rich in cancer preventing antioxidants and vitamins, blueberries are often called a superfood. But new research suggests that blueberry fibre may help prevent a number of intestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis.

And the protective effect is even better if the blueberries are eaten with probiotics - the good type of bacteria such as lactobacillus and bifidobacteria found in yogurts.

In the study, Swedish researchers wanted to find out whether different types of dietary fibre and probiotic bacteria can help alleviate the symtoms and reduce the risk of intestinal disease and bowel cancer.

They tested various types of diets of blueberry husks, rye bran and oat bran with or without a mixture of probiotic bacteria.

The results showed that the protective effect of blueberries was reinforced if they were eaten together with probiotics.

Blueberries are rich in polyphenols - chemicals which have an antimicrobial and antioxidative effect.

The combination of blueberries and probiotics reduced inflammation-inducing bacteria in the intestine at the same time as boosting the number of good bacteria, the scientists said.

“The probiotics proved to have a protective effect on the liver, an organ that is often negatively impacted by intestinal inflammations,” said researcher Åsa Håkansson, from Lund University.

“A further explanation for the extremely positive effect of blueberries may be that the blueberry fibre are not degraded to such a high degree in the large intestine, added Dr. Camilla Bränning from the Division of Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry who led the study.

"This means that inflammation-inducing substances do not come into contact with the mucous lining of the intestine but are embedded in the fibre instead. Then these substances are transported out of body together with the faeces.”

This article was published on Wed 10 February 2010



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