New study findings are shedding some light on the age-old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. It seems apples, and other foods high in soluble fiber, including oats and nuts, reduces inflammation associated with obesity-related diseases and strengthens the immune system.
The animal study, published in the May issue of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that soluble fiber increases the production of an anti-inflammatory protein called interleukin-4. For the study, researchers fed mice low fat diets that were identical except that they contained either soluble or insoluble fiber.
After six weeks on the diet, the animals had distinctly different responses when the scientists induced illness by introducing a substance that causes the body to mimic a bacterial infection. Within two hours the mice fed soluble fiber were only half as sick as the other group, and they recovered 50 percent sooner.
The researchers report that this study is one of the first of its kind to show that soluble fiber has direct anti-inflammatory effects, and may have a direct impact on the immune system, although further human studies are needed.
Soluble fiber is already well known for its role in helping to delay feelings of hunger by prolonging stomach emptying, and lowering total and LDL cholesterol levels by binding to fatty acids.
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