Fiber-rich diet can have a positive effect on autoimmune disease

A study published in the journal Nature Communications revealed that eating a diet that is high in fiber may help fend off inflammatory diseases and significantly improve joint health and bone integrity. The findings also found that the metabolites produced in a high-fiber diet, and not the intestinal bacteria themselves, play a central role in increased bone strength.

  • A team of researchers at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) in Bavaria, Germany, examined mice models of inflammatory bone diseases — such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ankylosing spondylitis — as part of the study.
  • The mice were divided into two groups to assess the efficacy of a high-fiber diet in improving bone health. One group was given short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) supplements including propionate and butyrate, while the other served as the control group.
  • The research team then used micro-computed tomography to evaluate the animals’ tibial bone structure.
  • The scientists observed that supplemented mice significantly increased their short-chain fatty acid levels compared with the controls.
  • The experts also found that supplemented mice exhibited a marked increase in bone and tissue volume and bone mass.
  • Likewise, the scientists revealed that supplemented mice had decreased trabecular separation and CTX-I serum level, which served as a marker for bone resorption.
  • Data from a histomorphometric analysis further showed that supplemented mice attained significant reductions in bone-degrading osteoclasts.
  • The research team noted that certain markers for bone formation — such as osteoblast numbers, serum osteocalcin (OCN) levels and mineral apposition rate and bone formation rate per bone surface — remained unchanged.

The scientists concluded that the findings might hold potential in addressing inflammatory disorders.

Journal reference: 

Sébastien Lucas, Yasunori Omata, Jörg Hofmann, Martin Böttcher, Aida Iljazovic, Kerstin Sarter, Olivia Albrecht, Oscar Schulz, Brenda Krishnacoumar, Gerhard Krönke, Martin Herrmann, Dimitrios Mougiakakos, Till Strowig, Georg Schett, Mario M. Zaiss. SHORT-CHAIN FATTY ACIDS REGULATE SYSTEMIC BONE MASS AND PROTECT FROM PATHOLOGICAL BONE LOSS. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02490-4

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