12 January - 20 June 2016

High fibre diet and asthma

15 Jan 14

Eating more fibre could help treat symptoms of asthma, according to research published in the journal Nature Medicine.  Allergic asthma cases are increasing in developed countries, which are also seeing fewer people eating a high-fibre diet.  The researchers wanted to see if there could be a possible association between the two.    The study involved laboratory and animal research looking at what role dietary fibre plays in the gut and influencing lung inflammation in mice.  Fibre is only found in foods that come from plants, of which there are two varieties – soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fibre can be digested by the body, whereas insoluble fibre cannot.  Soluble forms of fibre can ‘ferment’ in the gut and be converted to short-chain fatty acids.  These have a variety of roles, including in neurological function.  In this study, a group of mice were fed either a normal-fibre diet or a low-fibre diet.  All of the mice were then exposed to house dust mites (a common trigger for asthma symptoms in humans) and were monitored for up to six days to see if there was any allergic airway inflammation.  The researchers concluded that mice given a low-fibre diet had stronger allergic reactions to house dust mites than mice fed a normal-fibre diet.  Dietary fermentable fibre changed the composition of the gut and lung microbiota of mice, metabolising the fibre and increasing the concentration of short-chain fatty acids, which may promote better health.  Finally mice fed a high-fibre diet had increased circulating levels of short-chain fatty acids and were protected against allergic inflammation in the lung compared with mice fed a low-fibre diet, who had decreased levels of short-chain fatty acids and increased allergic airway inflammation.  The results showed that dietary fermentable fibre and short-chain fatty acids can shape the immunological environment in the lung and influence the severity of allergic inflammation.

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