S u m m a r y :
The consumption of dietary fibre can prevent obesity as well as a number of other conditions, suggests a new study published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.
A Solution for Obesity
Dietary fibre might be the key to curbing the growing epidemic that obesity has become. The new research, conducted by investigators from Georgia State University, suggests that its consumption might prevent not only obesity but metabolic syndrome as well by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon.
Obesity & Gut Microbiota
Obesity and metabolic syndrome are both linked with changes in the gut microbiome. It is believed that western diets bring alterations to our normal populations of microorganisms; the latter serve a number of purposes in our body, from helping with digestion to aiding the immune system. Modern dietary habits include a large consumption of processed foods that exert negative effects on the gut microbiota, resulting in chronic inflammatory diseases such as metabolic syndrome. Previous studies have shown that diets rich in fat will destroy the beneficial gut bacteria, and decrease the production of intestinal epithelial cells, exposing the intestine to bacteria. Therefore, if the gut microbiota were to be restored, the adverse consequences like obesity and other conditions might be prevented.
Meet Fibre Inulin
The study involved the analysis of the effects of fermentable fibre called inulin. When the latter was introduced into the bodies of mice, it appeared to restore gut health, protecting the mice from metabolic syndrome caused by high-fat diets. The normal gut microorganism levels were brought back, leading to an increase in epithelial cells of the intestine, and the restored expression of a protein that is known to play a role to protect epithelial cells from microbiota.
“We found that manipulating dietary fiber content, particularly by adding fermentable fiber, guards against metabolic syndrome,” says study author Andrew Gewirtz. “This study revealed the specific mechanism used to restore gut health and suppress obesity and metabolic syndrome is the induction of IL-22 expression. These results contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms that underlie diet-induced obesity and offer insight into how fermentable fibers might promote better health.”
Inulin as a Dietary Supplement
Gewirtz and his team found that including inulin as a dietary supplement lowered weight gain in mice, and decreased obesity induced by high-fat diets. Furthermore, the size of the fat cells also appeared to have been reduced.
Another interesting finding is that inulin seems to be linked with lower cholesterol levels. Also, it can prevent dysglycemia (abnormal blood sugar levels).