inflammation

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Eating Dietary Fiber Protects Your Brain

Eating a diet rich in dietary fiber — the parts of plant-based foods that can’t be digested — is very beneficial for your health.

It’s pretty easy to do too, especially if you like nuts, fruits, legumes like chickpeas and lentils, popcorn (skip the movie theater butter), oats, seeds and even dark chocolate.

However, these benefits rely on the bacteria in your gut being healthy, diverse and working as it should to digest dietary fiber and produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate.

As we’ve learned previously, the production of butyrate increases the use of oxygen, protecting your gut from Salmonella, E. coli and other harmful pathogens.

Eating more dietary fiber may also protect your brain from inflammation that steals memories and impairs normal functioning due to aging, according to a recent study from the University of Illinois’ College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Science (ACES) that appeared in Frontiers in Immunology.

Knowing they were already on the right track in previous studies with a drug-based form of butyrate (sodium butyrate), scientists used dietary fiber in hopes of achieving similar results with older mice.

First, researchers fed young and older mice low- and high-fiber diets, then measured levels of butyrate and other SCFAs in their blood along with inflammatory chemicals in their intestines.

No surprise, feeding both age groups a high-fiber diet boosted their production of SCFAs and butyrate, and intestinal inflammation was reduced so dramatically there was no noticeable differences between both sets of mice.

The ACES team of researchers discovered the brain benefits of a high-fiber diet when they examined 50 unique genes in the microglia (cells located in the brain and spinal cord).

In older mice, the presence of extra butyrate inhibited the amount of harmful chemicals produced by inflamed microglia, including interleukin-1 beta that’s been linked to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

It doesn’t take much dietary fiber to make a difference in your health. For example, eating just 1 extra ounce (about 30 grams) of dietary fiber a day can relieve constipation, reduce your risks of cardiovascular problems and help you lose weight too, in addition to these newly discovered brain benefits.

Taking a product like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria (plus a prebiotic), helps your gut process that extra fiber you’ll be eating more efficiently for improved brain health.

Treat burn, trauma patients with probiotics

Inflammation, an over-reaction of the immune system when your body is injured or harmed by disease, has become a popular topic on this blog, as studies are showing how tightly it is linked to your gut health.

Low levels of chronic inflammation are signaled by reduced amounts and richness of gut bacteria, tying gut diversity to a boost in a patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, according to a recent Danish study.

A dramatic shift in gut bacteria is the subject of a new PLOS One study related to patients whose bodies produced large increases of Enterobacteriaceae, a “family” of bacteria which include harmful Salmonella and E. coli, after being severely burned.

Scientists from Loyola University Medical Center’s Burn Center compared fecal samples from four severely burned trauma patients, five to 17 days after their injuries occurred, with fecal samples from a control group of eight patients whose bodies experienced only minor burns.

Amounts of Enterobacteriaceae were miniscule (0.5 percent) among patients with only light burns. However, among patients with serious burns, Enterobacteriaceae accounted for 32 percent of their gut bacteria.

These imbalances in the gut microbiome may contribute to complications from infections like sepsis, that are linked to 75 percent of patient deaths caused by severe burns, says Dr. Mashkoor Choundry, senior author of the study.

In fact, Dr. Choundry is planning future studies to investigate the possibility that this over-production of harmful bacteria could lead to leaky gut.

Leaky gut is a serious health condition that occurs when unintended substances, ranging from undigested food and toxic waste products to bacteria and viruses, seep through the vulnerable intestinal barrier and into the bloodstream.

Injuries to the body like burn trauma can jumpstart a harmful cycle, according to study co-author Dr. Richard Kennedy. Your body’s immune system responds to trauma with inflammation, triggering an imbalance of gut bacteria, which spirals into a more powerful inflammatory response and greater disparities in the gut microbiome.

Burn victims may also benefit from taking probiotics, a safe, drug-free treatment that can help an injured gut microbiome recover. Future studies will determine if probiotics can reduce the possibility of infectious problems like sepsis, says Dr. Choundry in a press release.

One day, doctors could use probiotics to treat patients suffering other kinds of trauma (injuries to brain) too.

How can white bread be healthy? It’s all about your gut!

In a recent blog post, we discussed how the human body can experience measurable health benefits by eating dark chocolate that interacts with Bifidobacterium in the gut to produce anti-inflammatory compounds.

The trick about deriving nutritional benefits from dark chocolate hinges on eating bitter-tasting brands that are minimally processed.

A recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry demonstrates just how versatile the healthy gut can be by taking advantage of the most popular processed food in the Western diet: white bread.

The white bread scoop

Because our diet has a direct impact on gut health, Spanish researchers from the University of Oviedo compared the intake of fibers and polyphenols (commonly found in fruits, vegetables, teas and spices) consumed in a normal diet in fecal samples taken from 38 healthy adults.

Many previous studies linking the gut microbiota to diets have focused on single foods full of soluble fibers that work as prebiotics (defined as nondigestible food ingredients that benefit human health by stimulating the growth of one or several bacterial species in the gut including Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria).

In some of those studies, pectin alone, a gelatinous polysaccharide present in ripe fruits, usually evades digestion to reach the colon where it stimulates the growth of various gut bacteria.

However, pectin was also associated with a drop of certain fecal bacteria (C. leptum and B. coccoides) in this study, leading researchers to believe that it interacts with other chemicals in oranges to create this effect.

The most interesting finding: Eating plain white bread, made with refined grains, was responsible for a spike in Lactobacillus, one of the strains of bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

Until this study, prebiotic spikes in gut bacteria were mostly observed from eating whole-grain cereals due to the fiber content.

Don’t do it!

Before you consider adding white bread to your diet, there are plenty of healthy reasons to avoid it.

The most recent study on the consumption of white bread—scientists tracking the health of some 9,200 Spanish college grads during a five-year period—found patients who ate only white bread and two or more portions each day were 40 percent more likely to become overweight or obese compared to those who ate just one portion a week.

Conversely, no significant risk was found by eating only whole-grain bread with more fiber and various kinds of carbohydrates.

These results go hand-in-hand with dietary recommendations posted by the Mayo Clinic to prevent heart disease.

Yes, white bread is better than sweets, but it has a high glycemic value, so eating a lot of it can add to your risks of obesity and diabetes, said UK nutritionist Dr. Carrie Ruxton to BakeryandSnacks.com.

For your health’s sake, the best choice to promote good gut health is taking a multi-strain probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Advanced Junior that contain no dairy products, preservatives and artificial colorings and are GMO- and gluten-free.

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