Study Finds Strawberries may be a Solution to Gut Inflammation

Study Finds Strawberries may be a Solution to Gut Inflammation
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In a recent study, researchers learned that sweet, juicy, healthful strawberries could be a solution to reducing the gut inflammation caused by inflammatory bowel disease.[1] [2]

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an affliction shared by an estimated 3 million adults in the United States, statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show. Conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis – both of which fall under the heading of IBD – are becoming more frequent because of the unhealthy lifestyle habits of many Americans.

“The sedentary lifestyle and dietary habits of many people in this country – high-sugar, high-animal-fat, but low-fiber diets may promote colonic inflammation and increase the risk” of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to study leader Dr. Hang Xiao, Ph.D., of UMass Amherst’s Department of Food Science. [2]

Not only is IBD painful, but it increases a person’s risk for colorectal cancer. That risk can be lowered by eating more fruits and vegetables, however.

Read: 7 Foods to Include in a Diet for Crohn’s Disease

For the study, Xiao and his colleagues chose to put strawberries in the limelight because they are so popular and widely consumed. The research focused on whole strawberries, unlike previous studies that used purified compounds and strawberry extracts. (Check out some other health benefits of strawberries here.)

Doctoral student Yanhui Han said:

“When you only test the purified compounds and extracts, you miss out on a lot of other important components in the berries, as well as phenolic compounds bound to the fibers, that can’t be extracted by solvents.”

Plus, how many people do you know who eat strawberry extracts? Most people eat the entire berry.

The scientists conducted experiments on mice, dividing them into 4 groups: [3]

  • Healthy mice fed a normal diet
  • Mice with IBD fed a normal diet
  • Mice with IBD fed 2.5% whole strawberry powder
  • Mice with IBD fed 5% whole strawberry powder

The mice were fed portions of strawberries equivalent in size to a normal human portion.

The experiments showed that eating the equivalent of 3/4 of a cup of strawberries daily reduced IBD symptoms such as bloody diarrhea as well as the weight loss associated with the disease.

Furthermore, the researchers observed fewer inflammatory markers in the mice’s colons. What’s more, whole strawberry consumption helped restore the balance of the rodents’ microbiota, reducing harmful levels of gut bacteria and increasing levels of healthy flora.

Read: Health Benefits of Fiber: Why it Matters and Where to Find It

A human trial is planned for the future to see if the results can be replicated in people. Some years from now, dealing with IBD could be as simple as enjoying one of America’s favorite fruits.

For now, though, the team recommends that people with IBD talk to a physician before altering their diet.

The findings were presented in August at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, held in Boston.


[1] U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

[2] UPI

[3] Medical News Today