In their search for foods that encourage the growth of good bacteria in the gut, researchers have come out with Beta-glucan-enriched pasta.
People fed beta-glucan-enriched pasta for two months showed increased populations of beneficial bacteria in their intestinal tracts, and reduced populations of non-beneficial bacteria. They also showed reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Beta-glucans are healthy fibers that humans cannot digest, but that can be digested by some species of our gut bacteria. They are special types of sugars that are found in the cell walls of certain microbes, as well as in oats and barley.
Beta-glucans are used clinically against diabetes, cancer, and high cholesterol, as well as to boost the immune systems of people whose immunity has been compromised by radiation, chemotherapy, stress, and other conditions.
The investigators hypothesized that by feeding study subjects Beta-glucan-enriched pasta, they could modify the species composition of the gut bacteria, possibly leading to improved human health, said coauthor Maria De Angelis
The Beta-glucan-enriched pasta made from a mixture of 75 percent durum wheat flour and 25 percent whole grain barley flour. The daily dose of pasta, 100 grams, contained 3 grams of barley Beta-glucans, the recommended daily dose in the US and in Europe.
These results highlight the influence of fibers and of the Mediterranean diet on gut microbiota, and indirectly on human health, said De Angelis.
The study is published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.