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Friday, October 30, 2009

Fiber Keeps Diseases at Bay

Insoluble dietary fiber, or roughage, not only keeps you regular but also plays a vital role in the immune system, keeping certain diseases at bay, say Australian scientists.

The indigestible part of all plant-based foods pushes its way through most of the digestive tract unchanged, acting as a kind of internal broom. When it arrives in the colon, bacteria convert it to energy and compounds known as "short chain fatty acids." These are already known to alleviate the symptoms of colitis, an inflammatory gut condition.

Similarly, probiotics, and prebiotics, food supplements that affect the balance of gut bacteria, reduce the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, also inflammatory diseases. Until now, no one has understood why.

Doctoral student Kendle Maslowski and professor Charles Mackay from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research made new sense of such known facts by describing a mechanism that links diet, gut bacteria and the immune system. They demonstrated that GPR43, a molecule expressed by immune cells and previously shown to bind short chain fatty acids, functions as an anti-inflammatory receptor, MORE>>>>>>>>>

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