1 Tahrcountry Musings: Banana to the rescue of Crohn's disease patients

Friday, August 27, 2010

Banana to the rescue of Crohn's disease patients

Crohn's disease causes chronic intestinal inflammation, leading to pain, bleeding and diarrhoea. People with Crohn's disease have increased numbers of a 'sticky' type of E. coli which weakens the ability to fight off invading intestinal bacteria. The sticky E. coli are capable of penetrating the gut wall via special cells, called M-cells. M-cells act as the ‘gatekeepers’ to the lymphatic system. In patients with Crohn's disease this results in chronic inflammation of the gut.

Scientists of Liverpool Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) have found that plantain’s soluble fibers prevented the uptake and transport of E. coli across M.cells. They compared these results with tests on polysorbate-80 – a fat emulsifier used in processed food to bind ingredients together. The tests revealed that polysorbate had the opposite effect to plantain fibres, and encouraged the movement of bacteria through the cells.

According to Dr Barry Campbell, the research has shown that different dietary components can have powerful effects on the movement of bacteria through the bowel. We have known for some time the general health benefits of eating plantain and broccoli, which are both high in vitamins and minerals, but until now we have not understood how they can boost the body's natural defences against infection common in Crohn's patients. The research suggests that it might be important for patients with this condition to eat healthily and limit their intake of processed foods.

Researchers are working with biotechnology company, Provexis, to test a new plantain based food product that could treat patients with Crohn’s disease.

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