A Strawberry a Day Keeps What Away?
Posted on November 29, 2018
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) cause uncomfortable symptoms for many sufferers. These conditions also often cause feelings of embarrassment, stress and frustration for many individuals, as they struggle to find the right combination of medication and other conventional treatments to stop symptoms.
But, what if the key to treating the pain and discomfort of these conditions was not in the medicine cabinet or at the pharmacy, but in the refrigerator instead?
New research suggests that the key to helping reduce the inflammation caused by IBDs could be found in strawberries.
The study on the benefits of strawberries for gut health was recently presented at the 256th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society by researchers from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 million adults in the United States reported being diagnosed with IBD in 2015 and 2016, and the number of people diagnosed with IBD is increasing.
Conventional treatments for IBD conditions such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis include anti-inflammatory drugs and immunosuppressive agents, but not everyone living with IBD responds well to these therapies, or these therapies do not provide long-term benefits, said Dr. Joel Singer.
Singer is a New York physician who uses personal cell therapy to treat individuals living with Crohn’s disease.
Regenerative treatment helps to reduce inflammation associated with IBD and also helps to reset the immune system to stop it from attacking the intestinal lining.
IBD, which includes both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, can also increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Researchers on the study believe that behavioral factors such as sedentary living and poor eating habits increase both colonic inflammation and the risk of developing IBD.
This is not the first time that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been associated with a lower risk of developing IBD.
To further explore the connection, the UM-A team focused on the benefits of strawberries because the fruit is popular and widely consumed. Earlier studies have also investigated the benefits of strawberries for IBD sufferers but focused on the fruit’s compounds and extracts.
The UM-A researchers focused on the benefits of the whole berry because strawberries are rich in both dietary fiber and phenolic compounds. Another reason the Massachusetts team focused on the entire berry, rather than its extracts, is that this is the most common way people consume the fruit.
During the study, the researchers used four groups of mice – one control group of healthy mice consuming a regular diet and three test groups of mice with IBD consuming either a regular diet, a diet with 2.5 percent whole strawberry powder or a diet with 5 percent whole strawberry powder.
The study authors found that the mice with IBD that consumed the whole strawberry powder equivalent to three-quarters of a cup of strawberries per day in humans had noticeably fewer IBD symptoms, including weight loss and bloody diarrhea.
Additionally, the researchers found that consuming strawberries also reduced inflammation in the mice’s colonic tissue.
The reduction of symptoms and decreased inflammation were not the only noticeable benefit of strawberry consumption; researchers also noticed an increase in the beneficial bacteria in the colons of the IBD test group mice.
The next step in the study is to test their findings in human IBD patients. In the meantime, the UM-A researchers recommend that IBD patients consult with their doctors before changing their diet.
American Chemical Society. “Strawberries could help reduce harmful inflammation in the colon.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2018.