Strawberries Improve Gut Health, Research Shows
According to research conducted by Ph.D. Hang Xiao and his team at the University of Massachusetts, persons dealing with Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), colonic inflammation, and poor gut health can improve their symptoms through regular intake of strawberries.
From the Science Daily article:
According to Yanhui Han, a Ph.D. student who conducted the study, most of the previous reports focused on the effects of purified compounds and extracts from strawberries. “But when you only test the purified compounds and extracts, you miss out on a lot of other important components in the berries, such as dietary fiber, as well as phenolic compounds bound to the fibers, that can’t be extracted by solvents,” he says. He adds that it also makes sense to study the effects of whole berries because people mostly consume the whole fruits rather than their extracts.
In their experiment, Han and Xiao used four groups of mice — a group of healthy mice consuming a regular diet, and three groups of mice with IBD consuming a regular diet, a diet with 2.5 percent whole strawberry powder or a diet with 5 percent whole strawberry powder. Xiao says they tried to feed the mice doses of strawberries that would be in line with what a human could reasonably consume.
The researchers found that dietary consumption of whole strawberries at a dose equivalent to as low as three-quarters of a cup of strawberries per day in humans significantly suppressed symptoms like body weight loss and bloody diarrhea in mice with IBD. Strawberry treatments also diminished inflammatory responses in the mice’s colonic tissue.
But decreased inflammation wasn’t the strawberry’s only conferred benefit during this study. Colonic inflammation adversely impacts the composition of microbiota in the gut. With IBD, the abundance of harmful bacteria increases, while levels of beneficial bacteria decrease in the colon. Following the dietary treatments of whole strawberries, the researchers observed a reversal of that unhealthy microbiota composition in the IBD mice. Xiao’s team also obtained experimental data that indicated strawberries might impact abnormal metabolic pathways in the IBD mice, which in turn could lead to the decreased colonic inflammation they observed.
Xiao’s research team presented their findings to the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) this August. They plan to continue the study, hoping to validate their findings in IBD patients during this next round of research. Xiao advises all people consult their doctors before making any sort of dietary change.