Broccoli and blueberries may improve gut health

16 February 2012

Broccoli and blueberries may have positive effects for those suffering with digestive problems, new research suggests.

A preliminary study conducted by Nutrigenomics New Zealand, published in the international journal Nutrition, looked at the effects of blueberries and broccoli in mice with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) symptoms. Results of the study suggest adding broccoli or blueberries to the diet may alter gut bacteria and improve inflammation associated with IBD.

Plant & Food Research scientist Dr Gunaranjan Paturi says the research, still at an early stage, is part of wider research designed to investigate methods of improving gut health within humans. 

“The positive results offer hope for those suffering from the effects of IBD,” says Dr Paturi. “There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the compounds found in fruit and vegetables can offer beneficial effects to gastrointestinal health. These results warrant further investigation through human clinical trials to establish the potential benefits of blueberries and broccoli in the human diet for promoting gut health.”

Nutrigenomics New Zealand is a multidisciplinary research collaboration between Plant & Food Research, The University of Auckland and AgResearch, and funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation. The programme aims to determine how food and food composition affects health based on genetic information. Ultimately, the programme intends to develop gene-specific foods that prevent, control or cure disease. The initial target for the programme is Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel disorders. Approximately 15,000 people are affected by these disorders in New Zealand.

Paturi G., Mandimika T., Butts C.A., Zhu S., Roy N.C., McNabb W.C., Ansell J., 2012. Influence of dietary blueberry and broccoli on cecal microbiota activity and colon morphology in mdr1a-/- mice, a model of inflammatory bowel diseases. Nutrition (The International Journal of Applied and Basic Nutritional Sciences), 28, 324-330.

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Emma Timewell
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