Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Eating a few strawberries a day could reduce effects of inflammation of the colon, including severe diarrhea and fatigue, according to study on mice.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst examined ways to counteract poor diet and lack of exercise to promote gut health. Their findings were presented Monday at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Boston.
"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 sydrome, study leader Dr. Hang Xiao, Ph.D., of UMass Amherst's Department of Food Science, said in a press release.
IBD conditions include Crohn's disease, which infects the gastrointestinal tract, and ulcerative colitis, which inflames the colon and rectum. IBD also has been linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancer.
An estimated 1.3 percent of U.S. adults have been diagnosed with IBD, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fruit and vegetable consumption has been associated with a lower IBD risk.
The researchers said they focused on strawberries because of their wide consumption. Unlike previous research that studied purified compounds and extracts from strawberries, the UMass Amherst researchers examined actual strawberries.
"When you only test the purified compounds and extracts, you miss out on a lot of other important components in the berries, such as dietary fiber, as well as phenolic compounds bound to the fibers, that can't be extracted by solvents," doctoral student Yanhui Han said.
In addition, most people consume whole fruits rather than their extracts.
Studied were conducted with healthy mice consuming a regular diet and three groups of mice with IBD consuming a regular diet, 2.5 percent whole strawberry powder or 5 percent whole strawberry powder.
The amounts were consistent with what a human could reasonably consume.
They found that the dietary consumption of whole strawberries at a dose equivalent as low as three-quarters of a cup of strawberries per day in humans significantly suppressed body weight loss and bloody diarrhea in mice with IBD. In addition, strawberry treatments also diminished inflammatory responses in the mice's colonic tissue.
The researchers also detected a reversal of the unhealthy microbiota composition in the IBD mice.
And they found strawberries might impact abnormal metabolic pathways in IBD mice. This could lead to the decreased colonic inflammation.
Researchers next plan to conduct studies in humans.