Increasing the fiber in our diet could prevent obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases that are linked with changes in our gut bacteria according to a study at Georgia State University.
The researchers found that by enriching the amount of fermentable fiber in the diet of mice they were able to encourage the growth of good bacteria in the gut and prevent metabolic syndrome that is induced by a high-fat diet. Notably as a result of this study they were able to identify specifically what the causes of metabolic syndrome are in the body. Metabolic syndrome is closely linked to obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels – all of which increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Both Obesity and metabolic syndrome are linked with changes in gut bacteria and the microorganisms in our gut. Our gut microbiome can be damaged by poor diets, antibiotics, exposure to chemicals and toxins in our food and our homes – and a lack of fruit and vegetables rich in fiber. All of these factors are thought to contribute to the increased incidence of obesity, metabolic syndrome and other chronic diseases. Studies have found a high-fat diet destroys gut microbiota, reduces the production of epithelial cells lining the intestine and causes gut bacteria to invade intestinal epithelial cells.
In this study led by Andrew Gewirtz, Professor at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences in Georgia State Univeristy, the team found that the fermentable fiber inulin restored the health of the intestinal bacteria and protected mice against metabolic syndrome, as well as increasing the production of intestinal epithelial cells and preventing gut bacteria from invading the epithelial cells.
“Manipulating dietary fibre content, particularly by adding fermentable fibre, guards against metabolic syndrome”
“We found that manipulating dietary fiber content, particularly by adding fermentable fiber, guards against metabolic syndrome,” Dr. Gewirtz, saidFor four weeks, the researchers fed mice either a grain based diet, a high-fat diet, low in fiber or a high-fat diet supplemented with fiber. The mice fed on the high-fat diet were found to have an increase in obesity and conditions associated with metabolic syndrome.
They researchers found that the mice fed on a diet supplemented with inulin gained less weight than the control group and noticeably reduced levels of obesity. The mice fed with a diet enriched with inulin showed significantly lower levels of cholesterol and more normal blood sugar levels. Further more by supplementing the high-fat diet with inulin the researchers found that they were able to restore the gut microbiota.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.