Research by University of Maine Shows Wild Blueberries Promote Better Gastrointestinal Health

July 15
11:07 2013

Research by University of Maine Shows Wild Blueberries Promote Better Gastrointestinal Health

Research conducted by scientists at the University of Maine reveals that Wild Blueberries promote better gastrointestinal and digestive health, a significant finding due to gut health's key role in overall immune system health.

"These findings are good news for people dealing with obesity, allergy, headaches and inflammation," said study researcher Vivian Chi-Hua Wu, associate professor of microbiology and food safety at the University of Maine's School of Food and Agriculture.

Wu and a team of researchers examined how Wild Blueberries affected digestive health in rats. For six weeks, they fed one group of rats a control diet and the other group a diet rich in Wild Blueberries.

In the study, researchers found that the rats fed a diet of Wild Blueberries showed an increase in bacteria beneficial to overall gut health. These beneficial bacteria, called probiotics, are critical to helping the body maintain good digestive and immune system health.

Researchers attribute the increase in the beneficial bacteria to the potential of Wild Blueberries to act as prebiotics. Prebiotics are plant substances that promote the growth of probiotics in the digestive tract.

The University of Maine research also discovered that rats fed a Wild Blueberry diet showed a reduction in Enterococcus, a potentially harmful type of bacteria often credited with causing infections. Additionally, the research indicated a number of other harmful substances were potentially reduced or eliminated from the digestive tract in the rats fed a Wild Blueberry diet.

"Approximately 70% of the body's immune functions are located in the digestive tract," said Susan Davis, MS, RD and Nutrition Advisor to the Wild Blueberry Association of North America. "By promoting better digestive health, Wild Blueberries in turn contribute to a healthier immune system."

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