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06.01.2014 Changes to diet, improving health

According to a number of animal studies vegetables, fruits and wholegrain foods might be an unlikely treatment for asthma.  Indeed, tests on mice, published in the journal Nature Medicine, showed that a high-fibre diet could reduce inflammation in the lungs.

It is thought that the extra fibre changed the nutrients being absorbed from the gut, which invariably altered the body’s immune system.

The researchers involved in the tests stated the shift to processed foods may explain why more people are developing asthma.  The airways are more sensitive to irritation and more likely to become inflamed in people with asthma.  It leads to a narrowing of the airways that make it harder to breathe.

That said, the gut may prove to be a possible solution, and the bacteria which live there. The cells of the human body are vastly outnumbered by the trillions of microbes that live in and on it. There is growing evidence that these bacteria have a significant impact on health.

From the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, a team of scientists showed that the high and low fibre diets altered the types of bacteria living in the guts of the mice.  Bacteria which can feast on soluble fibre, the type found in fruit and vegetables, flourished on the high-fibre diet and as such they produce more short-chain fatty acids - a type of fat, which is absorbed into the blood.  Furthermore, the scientists said these fatty acids acted as signals to the immune system and resulted in the lungs being more resistant to irritation.

The opposite happened in low-fibre diets and the mice became more vulnerable to asthma.  Their report argued that a dietary shift away from fibre in favour of processed foods may be involved in rising levels of asthma.

The report stated that: "In recent decades, there has been a well-documented increase in the incidence of allergic asthma in developed countries and coincident with this increase have been changes in diet, including reduced consumption of fibre."

Some of the differences caused by high-fibre diets have already been observed in people by comparing diets. A leading expert said "there's a very high probability it works in humans, the basic principle of fibre being converted to short-chain fatty acids is known.  But we don't know what amount of fibre would be needed and the concentrations of short-chain fatty acids required might be different.  It is early days, but the implications could be far reaching."

Although this has worked in mice, it is warned there certainly needs to be more work before this is suggested in people.

 

Related articles and as per the above can be found from within the public domain.  Posted as information only and for the purposes of general interest.

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