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Soluble fibre consumption boosts the immune system

granola with oat flakes and fruits

University of Illinois researchers have shown that the consumption of soluble fibre – typically found in whole oats, psyllium, vegetables, pulses and nuts and seeds – boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation in the body.

Gregory Freund, a Professor at the College of Medicine talked of how the consumption of soluble fibre ‘calmed’ the immune cells and made them anti-inflammatory.

The researchers also concluded (1) that the amount you needed to consume was perfectly reasonable and not excessive, and that insoluble fibre did not have the same  effect.

In a further study from the same University, Professor Kelly Swanson found that simply adding a high fibre snack bar into the subjects diet every day for a month, increased the population of Bacteriodites in the gut, whilst decreasing levels of Firmicutes. Increasing the ratio of the former to the latter, is associated with a lower BMI, and less obesity (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).

It is known that a high fibre diet builds the protective mucus membrane in the gut, whereas a low fibre diet weakens it and exposes the host to diseases such as ulcerative colitis, according to a study by Swedish researchers (Gut magazine).

Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist added, “we know that soluble fibre collects in little water pockets in the gut, and that commensal (good) bacteria can then go on a feeding frenzy. They grow; they multiply. And the more such bacteria you have in your gut, the greater the immune response to them. It’s a simple, two-step process”.

More on the benefits of fibre can be found HERE.


  1. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302171531.htm