Low-fiber diet may cause gut infection even if you’re not overweight

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In a new study, researchers found diet, more than body mass, may play a role in the risk for gut infection and eating more fiber could be the key to prevention.

One takeaway from this study is that people who are leaner may have similar risks of gut infection to obese adults if they don’t eat enough fiber.

Obesity is linked to developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and fatty liver disease.

Previous research suggests being overweight can also raise the risk and severity of bacterial infection.

However, less is known about whether following a diet that tends to cause obesity is enough to increase bacterial infection risks without being obese.

In the study, the team examined the effects of diet and obesity on a mouse model of a bacterial infection caused by excess adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) in the intestinal tract.

AIEC is a microorganism that may cause harm only under certain circumstances.

People who have the inflammatory bowel disorder Crohn’s disease may have too much AIEC (called an expansion) in their digestive tract, which can be exacerbated by antibiotic use.

Previous studies have found that obesity and related factors, such as a high-fat and high-sugar diet, may change the composition of the gut microbiome enough to increase the risk of inflammation and infection.

The typical Western diet containing highly processed foods also tends to be low in fiber. However, it’s not clear if this type of diet is enough to predispose people to bacterial infection.

In the study, obese mice followed two high-fat (60% and 45% fat), low-fiber diets. All of the animals developed AIEC expansion in the colon.

The mice on the 60% fat diet had a higher body mass than those eating the 45% fat chow, but there was no difference in the amount of AIEC (AIEC burden) in their systems.

These findings suggested that an aspect of diet composition rather than the magnitude of obesity was sufficient to promote intestinal AIEC expansion.

The research team also found lean mice eating the high-fat diet had more AIEC expansion than the controls (lean mice on a normal diet).

These results show that diet can regulate gut infectious burden independent of changes in body mass leading to obesity.

Finally, the research team found that mice on a low-fat, low-fiber diet had a higher AIEC burden than those eating a normal diet.

This suggests that dietary fat was not the key ingredient, but ingestion of lower dietary fiber is sufficient to promote infection throughout the gut.

One takeaway from this study is that people who are leaner may have similar risks of gut infection if they don’t eat enough fiber.

If you care about gut health, please read studies about this high blood pressure drug may hurt your gut health and findings of this common diet may increase your risk of gut inflammation, infection.

For more information about diet and your health, please see recent studies about this healthy diet may strongly prevent memory loss and dementia and results showing that this green diet may strongly lower non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. One author of the study is Jonathan D. Schertzer.

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