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Blueberries Help Counteract Intestinal Diseases

It is well known that blueberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. New research from the Lund University Faculty of Engineering in Sweden shows
that blueberry fiber are important and can alleviate and protect against intestinal inflammations, such as ulcerative colitis. The protective effect is even better if the blueberries are eaten together with probiotic foods such as yogurt.

The project originated as an attempt to determine whether various types of dietary fibre and health-promoting bacteria, known as probiotic bacteria such as lactobacillus and bifidobacteria from yogurt, can help alleviate and prevent the risk of ulcerative colitis and colorectal cancer. In recent years, the research community has been recognizing that our health is governed to a great extent by the activities in our large intestine.
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The researchers tested various types of diets of blueberry husks, rye bran and oat bran with or without a mixture of probiotic bacteria. The results showed that the protective effect of blueberries was reinforced if they were eaten together with probiotics. “The probiotics proved to have a protective effect on the liver, an organ that is often negatively impacted by intestinal inflammations.” they explained.

Blueberries are rich in polyphenols, which have an antimicrobial and
antioxidative effect. The combination of blueberries and probiotics
reduced inflammation-inducing bacteria in the intestine at the same
time as the number of health-promoting lactobacilli increased.

The researchers also noted that if blueberries are eaten together
with probiotics, the content of butyric acid and propionic acid
increased in the blood, two substances that are formed when fiber
are broken down and that have previously been known to be
important energy sources for intestinal cells. In recent years they
have also been shown to favorably impact the immune defense.
According to their findings, it seems as if the absorption of these
beneficial components is effectively facilitated by the presence of
probiotics. A large portion of the butyric acid not only was taken up
by the intestinal cells but was also transported onward to the blood.

“A further explanation for the extremely positive effect of blueberries
may be that the blueberry fiber are not degraded to such a high
degree in the large intestine. This means that inflammation-inducing
substances do not come into contact with the mucous lining of the
intestine but are embedded in the fiber instead. Then these
substances are transported out of body together with the regular
evacuation.”

The researchers also found that rye bran was broken down in the
large intestine, in the same place that ulcerative colitis and large-
intestine cancer often occur, and that the rye bran provided a rich
supply of butyric acid and propionic acid. On the other hand, the
fiber in oat bran were degraded earlier in the large intestine. The
most striking result, however, was that blueberries themselves had
such a favorable effect compared with both rye bran and oat bran.

For individuals who suffer from stomach pains, diarrhea, or
constipation, complaints resulting from intestinal disorders and
more undefined intestinal problems, these readily available foods
should be a regular part of their dietary intake. The disease ulcerative
colitis is one of the inflammatory intestinal diseases included under
the general name IBD, inflammatory bowel diseases.

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