gut microbes love white bread
June 12, 2014

Eating White Bread Encourages Growth Of Beneficial Gut Bacteria

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

While many health experts advise against eating white bread due to a lack of nutritional value, new research appearing in Wednesday’s edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests it could benefit our health by encouraging the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.

Furthermore, Sonia González of the University of Oviedo’s Department of Functional Biology and colleagues from the Instituto de Productos Lácteos de Asturias – Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientı́ficas (IPLA-CSIC) found it is essential to look at a person’s entire diet and not just individual parts of it when analyzing the impact of food on his or her microbiomes.

According to the American Chemical Society (ACS), which publishes the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, González and her team report that a person’s gut bacteria plays a key role in his or her health. When there is a decrease in some populations of those bacteria, men and women become more prone to disease.

Eating right is one of the most effective ways to keep our microbiomes healthy and well-balanced, the organization explained. Experts have analyzed the impact of individual fibers and probiotics to determine what dietary ingredients promote helpful bacteria, but there has been little research into the role polyphenols play in this phenomenon.

Polyphenols are micronutrients that are common in many of the foods that we eat, including fruits, vegetables, spices and teas. González and her associates wanted to see what impact they had on our gut bacteria, both alone and in combination with fibers, so they recruited 38 healthy adults to take part in a pilot study.

Each participant answered questions about their diets and agreed to have the bacteria present in their stool samples analyzed by the research teams. The study authors discovered pectin, a compound typically found in citrus fruits, decreases the levels of some helpful bacteria when interacting with other substances contained in oranges.

“A negative association was found between the intake of pectins and flavanones from oranges and the levels of Blautia coccoides and Clostridium leptum,” the study authors wrote. “By contrast, white bread, providing hemicellulose and resistant starch, was directly associated with Lactobacillus.

“Because some effects on intestinal microbiota attributed to isolated fibers or polyphenols might be modified by other components present in the same food, future research should be focused on diet rather than individual compounds,” they added.

The new paper comes just days after research presented as part of the 21st annual European Congress on Obesity (ECO 2014), which reported that consuming white bread instead of whole-grain bread could increase a person’s chances of becoming overweight or obese.

In that study, author, nutritional expert and University of Navarra professor Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, analyzed the dining habits of more than 9,000 Spanish university graduates. In order to measure the impact of bread type in a culture where it is a dietary staple, he had each participant complete a food questionnaire and then monitored all of them over the next five years.

Martinez-Gonzalez discovered those who consumed a minimum of three slices of white bread each day were 40 percent more likely to gain weight than those who ate just one portion per week. Whole-grain bread consumption was not linked to obesity or weight gain, since it contains dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates that make people feel full longer, and mixing both bread types did not increase a person’s risk of becoming overweight.

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