In the context of the ever increasing relationship between inflammation and diseases of our western lifestyle the idea that the old adage of ‘an apple a day keeps the Dr away’ this recent paper has some attractive evidence.
Looking at a mouse model – and we are aware of how diet affect mouse studies from a post written a few days ago- Food Choice Affects Lab Outcomes this group have extended the concept further, and presented the mice with a specially enriched diet. This study fed a low fat diet to both groups for six weeks differentiated by one having soluble fibre and the other non soluble fibre.
When challenged using a microbial wall particle called lipopolysaccharide (LPS) the group on the soluble fibre had a 50% reduction in symptoms compared to the insoluble group. They also recovered 50% faster. It seems that just 6 weeks of an increased soluble fibre intake change their immune responses in a very positive manner.
Obesity and metabolic syndrome for example are inflammation illness with the fat cells – adipocytes producing their own cytokines called adipokines. This fat derived pervasive inflammatory output is linked to risks for diabetes, cardiovascular illness, cancer, and depression. Much of medicine is aimed at suppressing or reducing this adverse inflammation and food choice represents a safe and according to the authors, in mice at least, an effective one.
The idea that adding a positive anti inflammatory food group, say a daily intake of 2-3 apples (3-5gms ea) mimicking the citrus pectin used in the study and other good food derived sources of soluble fibre to achieve the recommended daily intake of 28-35 grams per day to generate an effect on immunity and inflammation control is an exciting discovery. This may well represent one of the viable components of why certain types of diet – the Mediterranean – for example includes a relatively high intake of fat, much of which is of the beneficial kind, as well as soluble fibre rich foods and is causally linked with a reduction in mortality and morbidity.
The Mediterranean diet, in addition to “regular physical activity,” emphasises “abundant plant foods, fresh fruit as the typical daily dessert, olive oil as the principal source of fat, dairy products (principally cheese and yogurt), and fish and poultry consumed in low to moderate amounts, zero to four eggs consumed weekly, red meat consumed in low amounts, and wine consumed in low to moderate amounts.
Other good sources of soluble fibre are oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, lentils, citrus fruits, strawberries, and carrots.
The insoluble fibres such as those in wheat, wholegrains, wheat bran, green and leafy vegetables may offer other advantages including aiding transit time but according to this study, they do not add immune support.
Food selection by many is very poor and the 5 a day campaign has often failed those most in need. The idea that a normal physiological ingestion of a daily group of foods can have an identifiable immune impact in just 6 weeks is an appealing strategic use of motivation for the right person. Communicating food benefits to a willing patient is much easier that via the public health method, this paper may add a little emphasis to your food choices when faced with a two legged inflammation riddled individual.
 Co-authors are Stephanie S. Kim, Ryan N. Dilger, Laura L. Bauer, Morgan L. Moon, Richard I. Tapping, George C. Fahey Jr., and Kelly A. Tappenden, all from the U of I. Sherry is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the USDA among others.