Less than a cup of strawberries a day may keep the doctor away for patients with irritable bowel disease, or IBD.
IBD is defined as inflammation of all or part of the digestive track and affects more than 3 million people. Symptoms include stomach pain, diarrhea, weight loss, rectal bleeding, anemia and ulcers. It also causes bowel inflammation and harmful gut bacteria.
Globally, IBD has been on the rise, which is especially concerning since gut inflammation has been linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer.
A person’s diet impacts the risk of developing IBD and managing it. A diet supplemented with fruits and vegetables has been shown through prior research to lower the risk of IBD. The results of a study conducted at the University of Massachusetts, which were presented at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, focused on one of the most widely consumed fruits — strawberries.
The researchers used four groups of mice. One group was healthy and consumed a regular diet while the three other groups had IBD and consumed a regular diet, a diet with two-and-a-half percent whole strawberry powder, or a diet with five percent whole strawberry powder.
The study found that consuming the equivalent of three-quarters of a cup of strawberries a day suppressed body weight loss and bloody diarrhea, reduced inflammation and reversed unhealthy microbiota composition in the mice. Next, the researchers intend to study the strawberry diet in humans with IBD.
For patients struggling with IBD, any relief is welcome. If it happens to be nutritious — and good tasting — even better.