Organically grown strawberries improve gut health, make you less likely to have diarrhea

An individual with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a set of painful conditions that are linked to extreme diarrhea and fatigue, may sometimes require medications and surgery. However, study findings have revealed that consuming less than one cup of strawberries daily can help patients with IBD. The dietary intervention could help alleviate inflammation in the colon and improve their gut health.

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst presented their results at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Dr. Hang Xiao, the leader of the study, noted that many Americans live a sedentary lifestyle and have poor dietary habits, which are often high in sugar and animal fat but low in fiber. These two factors often promote colonic inflammation and increase the risk of IBD.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2013 about three million adults in the U.S. reported that they were diagnosed with IBD.

IBD includes conditions like Crohn’s disease, which can infect any part of your gastrointestinal tract, and ulcerative colitis, which causes inflammation in the colon and rectum. Patients with IBD also have a greater risk of developing colorectal cancer. While the exact cause of IBD is unknown, experts posit that genetics and problems with the immune system are linked to the condition.

How can organic strawberries boost gut health?

Consuming fruits and vegetables regularly can help reduce the risk of IBD. Dr. Xiao and the research team focused on strawberries, which are commonly consumed in the U.S., to establish an effective and practical approach to minimize colonic inflammation in individuals with IBD and the general public.

Yanhui Han, a doctorate student who was part of the research team, explained that earlier reports analyzed the effects of purified compounds and extracts from strawberries. He said that this means previous studies often “miss out on a lot of other important components in the berries, such as dietary fiber, as well as phenolic compounds bound to the fibers, that can’t be extracted by solvents.”

Han added that studying the effects of whole berries makes more sense since people often eat the whole berries instead of just their extracts.

For the study, Han and Dr. Xiao used four groups of mice. The first was a group of healthy mice fed a regular diet. The other three groups of mice had IBD:

  • One group followed a regular diet.
  • One group followed a diet with 2.5 percent whole strawberry powder.
  • One group followed a diet with five percent whole strawberry powder.

Dr. Xiao shared that they tried to give the mice doses of strawberries that would be in line with what a human would normally eat.

The study findings revealed that the dietary consumption of whole strawberries, at a dose of about three-quarters of a cup of strawberries per day in humans, may considerably suppress symptoms such as body weight loss and bloody diarrhea in mice with IBD. The strawberry treatments also helped minimize inflammatory responses in the mice’s colonic tissue. (Related: IBD patients can improve their quality of life with common nettle.)

The researchers commented that strawberries offer other benefits aside from minimizing inflammation.

Colonic inflammation negatively affects the composition of microbiota in the gut. A patient with IBD who experiences an increase in harmful bacteria also suffers from a decrease “good” bacteria in their colon. However, data from the study showed that a dietary treatment of whole strawberries helped reverse unhealthy microbiota composition in the IBD mice.

Data from the study also suggests that strawberries can affect abnormal metabolic pathways in the IBD mice, which could be linked to the reduced colonic inflammation observed in the subjects. The researchers are now trying to substantiate the study findings in IBD patients.

Consuming three-quarters of a cup of strawberries daily could be good for people who wish to improve their health, but Dr. Xiao suggests that patients consult a healthcare professional before making drastic changes to their diets. He also warns that this kind of nutritional intervention isn’t advisable if a person is allergic to strawberries.

You can read more articles about scientific findings on beneficial fruits at

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