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Broccoli, Plantains May Stop Crohn's Disease Relapse

Broccoli and Plantain Fibers Prevented E. Coli Movement by 45% to 82% in Study
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Aug. 25, 2010 -- Fibers from broccoli and plantain plants may block a key stage in the development of Crohn’s disease, a new study finds.

Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disorder that affects about seven of every 100,000 people in North America.

Researchers in Europe tested soluble fibers from broccoli, plantains, leeks, apples, and the food processing additives polysorbate 60 and 80. They wanted to see if the fibers could reduce the movement of  E. coli  bacteria across cells lining the bowel, perhaps protecting against Crohn’s disease.

They found that broccoli and plantain fibers prevented E. coli movement by between 45% and 82%; leek and apple fibers showed no impact. The food additive polysorbate 80, however, substantially increased E. coli movement.

Plant Fibers Help Against Crohn’s

Results were confirmed in tissue samples taken from patients undergoing surgery for other disorders of the digestive tract.

Researchers conclude that supplementing diets with fibers from broccoli and plantains might prevent relapse of Crohn’s disease. One of the key stages in the development of Crohn’s occurs when cells lining the bowel are attacked by bacteria, especially E. coli.

Crohn’s disease most often affects the small and large intestines, but may occur in any area of the digestive tract. It most often occurs in people between the ages of 15 and 40. The main symptoms include abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite.

Crohn’s Disease Common in Developed Countries

Crohn’s disease is common in the United States and other developed countries where the typical diet is low in fiber and high in processed food. The researchers conclude that more research is needed to determine the effects of dietary changes in soluble plant fibers on Crohn’s disease.

The study, by scientists at the University of Liverpool in England, Linkoping University in Sweden, and at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, is published in the journal Gut.

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