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Daily muesli, fruit and vegetables help to maintain a diverse mix of bacteria
For many Germans, a delicious cereal is served on the breakfast table in the morning. The fiber contained in it ensures a healthy start to the day. Researchers at the Friedrich Alexander University in Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) have now underpinned the health aspect of mueslis in relation to autoimmune diseases. According to the researchers, a high-fiber diet can have a positive effect on the course of inflammatory joint diseases and lead to strengthening of the bones. The results of the scientific work were recently published in the journal "Nature Communications".
According to the scientists, the intestinal bacteria play a key role in this process. A healthy intestinal flora consists of a variety of bacteria. "Every adult person carries about two kilograms of benign bacteria in their intestines," the FAU wrote in a press release. These digestive aids break down fiber into individual components so that the body can absorb them. The resulting short-chain fatty acids provide energy, stimulate intestinal movement and inhibit inflammation. In the current study, the researchers were able to demonstrate that the metabolic products of the intestinal bacteria influence the immune system and thus also have an effect on autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and have positive effects on bone density.
The hard-working helpers in the intestine counteract bone loss
The FAU researchers were also able to show that more short-chain fatty acids are formed through a healthy high-fiber diet, in particular propionate, the salts and esters of propionic acid. The propionate could be detected in the bone marrow as a result of a high-fiber diet, where it reduced the number of bone-degrading cells and thus significantly slowed the bone loss.
A diverse mix of bacteria in the intestine is good for health
Gut bacteria have an abundance of beneficial effects on our bodies. For example, they fight pathogens that enter the digestive tract. The composition of the intestinal flora can have both protective and disease-causing effects. According to the scientists, an intact coexistence of the different bacteria can protect the intestinal wall and prevent it from becoming permeable to pathogens. A healthy diet with sufficient fiber could help to maintain a diverse mix of bacteria.
Some questions remain unanswered
In further investigations, it is necessary to clarify how the communication between the intestinal bacteria and the immune system works and how the bacteria could be influenced if necessary. The researchers pay particular attention to the short-chain fatty acids propionate and butyrate, which the scientists believe have an important influence on the proper functioning of the joints.
The director of studies summarizes
"We were able to show that a bacteria-friendly diet is anti-inflammatory and at the same time has a positive effect on bone strength," says study leader Dr. Mario Zaiss. The findings would offer a promising approach for the development of innovative therapies for inflammatory joint diseases and for the treatment of osteoporosis. "Today we cannot give a specific recommendation for a bacteria-friendly diet, but a morning cereal and sufficient fruit and vegetables every day helps to maintain a diverse mix of bacteria," explains Zaiss. (fp)