by Eliana Liotta
The Smart Tips column by Eliana Liotta | The properties of this substance are capable of protecting the intestine. Where to find it and how it works to feed the good bacteria
In chicory and artichokes there is a special fiber that protects the intestine and health in general: it is called inulin. Its positive effects were summarized in a systematic review of human studies (in the European journal of clinical microbiology) and are due to its action on the community of microorganisms in the colon, the microbiota. You could say that inulin feeds the good bacteria and prevents the bad ones like Escherichia coli, the pathobionts, from taking over.
Inulin is made up of a string of fructose molecules, attached like pearls on a necklace, and passes through the digestive system intact. Its chemical bonds cannot be broken by our enzymes, but some germs, the good ones, have the tools to dissolve them. And the feast begins: the substance is called prebiotic precisely because it nourishes probiotic bacteria.
The intestinal walls
The microorganisms produce short-chain fatty acids as waste from the fermentation of inulin, which function as a balm for the intestinal walls, whose integrity is important: a surface that is too porous risks letting toxins or viruses pass into the bloodstream capable of triggering pathologies and a general inflammatory state.
A diverse healthy microbiota. We must guarantee its biodiversity and avoid dysbiosis: eating vegetables, taking in their fibers, is an antidote to stress that alters balance, from reckless antibiotic therapies to some additives in food products. Typical of the composite family, inulin is part of lettuce, radicchio and Jerusalem artichokes, as well as artichokes and chicory. It is found in garlic, onion and white truffle. It is also sold in powder form, to be added to dishes.
Doctors may recommend supplements for irritable bowel syndrome, diverticula, or liver disease. In the meantime, the use of prebiotics in the fight against intestinal cancer is being studied.
* The scientific review by Silvio Danese, director of the Gastroenterology division at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan
September 27, 2023 (changed September 27, 2023 | 07:56)
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