Bifidobacteria are one of the most beneficial bacteria types for gut health. Bifidobacteria provide benefits for overall health, such as reducing inflammation and improving digestion, even in people with celiac disease. However, the amount of bifidobacteria decreases with age, increasing the risk of improper bowel functioning, infections, and general ill health. Because of these, people need to take extra steps to increase bifidobacteria levels.
For the study, the team recruited 15 men between 37 and 55 years old. These participants were tasked to consume either 25 grams (g) freeze-dried wild blueberry mixed in a drink, which is equivalent to a cup of wild blueberries or a placebo every day for a period of six weeks. After an additional six week flush-out period, the groups switched their intake. The participants retained their previous lifestyle and diet patterns throughout the study but refrained from eating other foods that contain the antioxidant called anthocyanins. Wild blueberries contain about 375 milligrams (mg) of anthocyanins. The researchers measured the participants' bifidobacteria levels before and after every six-week study period.
The results of the study showed that those who consumed wild blueberries every day exhibited significant increases in their bifidobacteria levels in their digestive tract, while those who consumed the placebo had a decline in these bacteria. The bifidobacteria levels of the wild blueberry consumers rose by 6.7 percent, while the placebo group saw a 1.7 decrease in these bacteria.
Wild blueberries also contain the beneficial compounds prebiotics, which serve as food and nourishment for good intestinal bacteria and support and sustain gut health.
Eating two cups of wild blueberries every day can help prevent diseases linked to metabolic syndrome, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, according to a study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. (Related: Wild blueberry juice provides cardioprotective effects for people at risk for type-2 diabetes.)
A person with metabolic syndrome has at least three of the following health problems: abdominal obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. This health problem affects approximately 37 percent of adults in the U.S.
Researchers from the University of Maine aimed to determine the health benefits of eating wild blueberries regularly in the long run. For their study, they fed obese rats with two cups of wild blueberries each day for eight weeks. The results showed that the consumption of the daily human equivalent of wild blueberries by rats regulated and improved the balance between relaxing and constricting factors in the vascular wall. In turn, this enhanced blood flow and blood pressure regulation.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in wild blueberries also reduced chronic inflammation and improved the abnormal lipid profile and gene expression associated with metabolic syndrome.
Read more news stories and studies on superfoods like blueberries by going to Superfoods.news.