Blueberries have been found to improve gut health and reduce chronic inflammation, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins that contain anti-inflammatory properties and may improve the gut microbiota.
A team of researchers at the University of Georgia wanted to determine whether blueberry supplementation would change the gut microbiota, reduce systemic inflammation, and improve insulin resistance. In conducting their study, the research team fed male mice with low-fat, high-fat, or high-fat and blueberry powder diets for eight weeks.
Results revealed that the supplementation of blueberry powder resulted in increases in the abundance of good gut bacteria, particularly Gammaproteobacteria. In addition, markers of inflammation increased in high-fat diet mice compared to the low-fat diet group. However, these increases were normalized in mice that were supplemented with blueberry powder. Moreover, the supplementation of blueberry was also linked with improvements in insulin sensitivity.
In conclusion, the findings of the study suggested that the supplementation of freeze-dried blueberry powder in mice fed with high-fat diet improved the health of the gut. Such improvement occurred due to the blueberry powder improving the gastrointestinal tract and reducing the leakage of endotoxins, such as lipopolysaccharide into the blood.
“Although we showed that metabolic improvements with blueberry supplementation were found in association with compositional changes in the gut microbiota, the use of germ-free models would be needed to conclusively show that the gut microbiota is responsible for changes in inflammation and insulin sensitivity,” the research team noted.
The findings of the study add to the increasing evidence of the benefits of blueberries and their polyphenol content in gut health and inflammation. Earlier studies have shown that blueberries may boost levels of bifidobacteria in the gut and some blueberry species play a role in glucose regulation, lipid metabolism, and improvement of inflammation.
The other health benefits of blueberries
Blueberries grow in groups on shrubby bushes and can vary in size. There are many different varieties of blueberry growing in different parts of the world. Huckleberries and bilberries are popular varieties of blueberry that are native to North America. Blueberries are deep blue-purple with thin translucent skin and small seeds.
Blueberries, like all other berries, are an excellent source of vitamin C. This vitamin provides protective effects against cell damage and helps in the absorption of iron. In addition, blueberries contain soluble fibers, which slow down the rate of releasing sugar into the bloodstream and aid in digestion. In fact, in traditional medicine, blueberries are used as a remedy for both diarrhea and constipation as well as urinary tract infections.
This superfood also contains excellent amounts of naturally occurring plant compounds called phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are known for their antioxidant benefits, which protect the body against various diseases. Some of the phytochemicals that blueberries contain include ellagic acid and anthocyanidins which are responsible for the blue, indigo, and red colors of the fruit. Most of the health benefits of blueberries are primarily attributed to its anthocyanidins. Studies have shown that this phytochemical protect and reinforce the blood vessels and collagen. As a result, blueberries also protects against cardiovascular diseases. Blueberries also support vision and prevent age-related macular degeneration. A recent study also found that blueberry extract is better at destroying cancer cells than conventional radiation therapy. Another great thing about this superfood is that you will not have to worry about its caloric content. Blueberries are low in calories and a 100-gram (g) serving provides 2.4 grams of fiber.