In a new study, researchers found that dietary fiber may be a new tool to prevent lung disease.
This is because dietary fiber can help produce anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids (SCFA).
The new findings suggest fiber could be used to treat and prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The research was conducted by Australia’s Priority Research Centre for Healthy Lungs at the University of Newcastle and the Centre for Inflammation.
COPD refers to a group of progressive lung conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and chronic asthma.
It is the world’s third biggest killer disease and affects 1 in 7 Australians over the age of 40.
Patients often have difficulty breathing. The causes of COPD include smoking, long-term exposure to air pollutants and a rare genetic disorder.
Many people live with a mild form of COPD without even knowing it. But for people with severe COPD, their quality of life can be influenced a lot.
The current treatments are only partially effective and some don’t work at all.
In the new study, the team exposed mice to cigarette smoke to trigger the disease. At the same time, some mice were fed supplemented with fermentable fiber.
The team found that cigarette smoke reduced the production of anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids. But the resulting inflammation could be reduced by a high fiber diet.
The finding suggests that dietary fiber is able to reduce lung inflammation and damage, resulting in improved lung function.
The team hopes their results could have important implications for people with or at risk of COPD and their doctors.
They also point out that dietary fiber intake by mice didn’t protect against every symptom of COPD.
Therefore, dietary fiber should be used as a supplement to, not a replacement of, currently approved interventions.
The findings may also pave the way for the development of new therapeutic treatments.
It improves scientists’ understanding of the biochemistry involved in the breakdown of dietary fiber and its impact on lung health.
By understanding the critical role short-chain fatty acids pay in preventing lung damage, the researchers can develop better treatments and dietary modifications for preventing and treating COPD.
The team finally suggest that if one wants healthy lungs, s/he should eat fiber.
The lead researcher of the study is Professor Phil Hansbro, Director of the Centre for Inflammation.
The study was presented at Australia and New Zealand Annual Scientific Meeting for Leaders in Lung Health & Respiratory Science (TSANZRS 2019).
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