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Study: High Fiber Foods and Probiotics Linked to Healthier Immune Systems

Published on , Last Updated on June 12, 2013
 


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Consuming dietary fiber is an effective measure to maintain bowel function and digestive health, most of us have heard that. However, new research suggests that when supplemented with beneficial probiotic bacteria, dietary fiber may also help boost the immune system.

Several independent studies have investigated relationship between consumption of dietary fiber and total immune health. Improvement was shown with the bowels’ naturally ability to fight off infection and disease and significantly reduced intestinal inflammation.

A University of Illinois study demonstrated the immune defense benefits of high fiber foods in mice [1]. Over a six week period, two groups of lab mice were fed identical diets. One group was also given supplemental insoluble fiber each day, the other was used as a control. Then, the researchers artificially induced the effects of a bacterial infection in both groups using a substance known as lipopolysaccharide, which the body mistakes as a threat.

Two hours after exposure, the mice in the high-fiber group were half as sick as the control group. They also recovered from the mock infection twice as fast as the low-fiber control group. This may suggest that soluble fiber could potentially offset some of the health risks associated with a high-fat diet.

A study by Australian researchers also found similar immune boosts in diets rich in insoluble fiber and probiotic enhanced food; both separately and when combined [2]. This sheds some light on the biological processes by which these two types of foods benefit the body’s natural defenses mechanisms.

Insoluble fiber cannot be fully broken down by the upper digestive tract. As it passes through the small intestines, it acts like a brush and pushes waste into the lower bowels. Once inside the colon, naturally occurring beneficial bacteria feed on it and convert it into energy and a special type of short chain fatty acid known to ease inflammation and other symptoms of bowel disease. The anti-inflammatory properties have a widespread impact on the body, and seem to bolster immune performance.

According to the reports, ample populations of beneficial intestinal bacteria are needed to maximize these healthful effects. Without them, insoluble fiber is simply passed from the body without being converted into short chain fatty acids. They digest the food matter the body is unable to breakdown, and turns it into something usable.

I recommend Latero-Flora, a popular probiotic supplement that can help maintain a healthy colon by populating the intestines with beneficial bacteria. Latero-Flora has shown significant effectiveness in easing gastrointestinal symptoms and food sensitivities while enhancing digestive capacities.

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM

References:

  1. College of ACES. College News. University of Illinois.
  2. Charles Mackay, Kendle Maslowski. New findings connect diet and intestinal bacteria with healthier immune systems. Garvan Institute. 2009 October 29.

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