Nav: Home

Australian research uncovers link between dietary fiber and lung disease

April 04, 2019

Dietary fibre may be a new tool in the prevention of progressive lung disease, thanks to the production of anti-inflammatory short chain fatty acids (SCFA), according to a new study by Australia's Priority Research Centre for Healthy Lungs at University of Newcastle, and the Centre for Inflammation, a partnership between The University of Technology Sydney and Centenary Institute.

The research was presented to lung health experts at the Australia and New Zealand Annual Scientific Meeting for Leaders in Lung Health & Respiratory Science (TSANZRS 2019 ).

"For several years now the Priority Research Centre for Healthy Lungs has been leading world research into the link between dietary fibre and healthy lungs. Our previous research has established how fibre supplements can be used to treat asthma. Now, our findings suggest fibre could be used to not just treat but also help prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)," said lead researcher Professor Phil Hansbro, Director of the Centre for Inflammation.

COPD is an umbrella term for progressive lung conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma, affecting 1 in 7 Australians over the age of 40. COPD is characterised by difficulty breathing and causes include smoking, long-term exposure to air pollutants and a rare genetic disorder.

Whilst many people live with a mild form of COPD without even knowing it, for those with severe disease, it can severely impair quality of life. COPD is a leading cause of death in Australia and is the second leading cause of avoidable hospital admissions. It is the world's third biggest killer disease. Existing treatments are only partially effective and some don't work at all.

The NSW study exposed mice to cigarette smoke - one of the known causes of COPD - to trigger onset of the disease. At the same time, the diet of some mice was supplemented with fermentable fibre.

If found that cigarette smoke reduced the production of anti-inflammatory short chain fatty acids but that the resulting inflammation could be offset by a high fibre diet.

"We found that dietary fibre is able to reduce lung inflammation and damage, resulting in improved lung function," explains Professor Hansbro. "For the first time, we have also connected these changes to the gastrointestinal microbiome and its production of protective metabolites."

The findings, say researchers, could have important implications for people with or at risk of COPD and their health providers.

"Diet can be an important addition to current treatments to help sustain the quality of life in patients and potentially influence the development of COPD in those at risk. Public health bodies should consider targeting diet and fibre as an additional safe and inexpensive treatment for lung disease," said Professor Hansbro.

The researchers point out that the consumption of dietary fibre by mice didn't protect against every symptom of COPD and so should be used as a supplement to, not a replacement of, currently approved interventions.

The findings also pave the way for the development of new therapeutic treatments.

"The greater our understanding of the biochemistry involved in the breakdown of dietary fibre and its impact on lung health, the closer we get to developing new, effective treatments. By understanding the critical role short chain fatty acids pay in preventing lung damage, we can better develop treatments and dietary modifications that can induce them as potential new preventions and treatments for COPD," said Professor Allan Glanville, President of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ).

In the meantime, the message is clear: if you want healthy lungs, eat your fibre.
-end-


University of Technology Sydney

Related Inflammation Articles:

The 'inflammation' of opioid use
New research correlates inflammation in the brain and gut to negative emotional state during opioid withdrawal.
Using a common anticonvulsant to counteract inflammation
The interaction between a chromosomal protein called HMGB1 and a cellular receptor called RAGE is known to trigger inflammation.
New study explains how inflammation causes gastric cancer
Researchers from Kanazawa University and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development have solved the decades-old mystery of how stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori causes gastric cancer.
The inflammation connection
New biological findings point towards a new avenue for the development of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Stopping inflammation from becoming chronic
An international research team led by Friedrich Schiller University in Jena has developed a highly sensitive cell model to study the complex effects -- and side effects -- of anti-inflammatory drugs, with the ultimate aim of preventing chronic inflammation.
More Inflammation News and Inflammation Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...