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Soluble Fiber May Boost Immune System

A new study has found that soluble fibers, like those found in apples, may boost the immune system and also reduce inflammation.

University of Illinois researchers published these findings in the February 2009 issue of the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

For the study, the researchers divided mice into two groups. One group was fed a low-fat diet that was supplemented with pectin, a soluble fiber. The other group was fed a low-fat diet that was supplemented with cellulose, an insoluble fiber.

The diets were administered to the mice for a period of six weeks.

At the end of the six weeks, the mice were given an endotoxin injection to induce sickness. Two hours after the injection the mice that were given the soluble fiber were only half as sick. The mice given the soluble fiber also completely recovered from their sickness 50% faster.

The researchers say the mechanism behind these results is increased production of an anti-inflammatory protein called interleukin-4. The immune system depends in large part on interleukins. Interleukin-4 plays an important role in the creation of antibodies and white blood cells.

Reducing chronic inflammation is directly linked to reductions in the risk of numerous conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis, cognitive decline and Alzheimer's, type-2 diabetes, and arthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties of soluble fiber may make it useful in treating these conditions.

The results of this study provide more reasons to pay attention to your daily soluble fiber intake. The easiest way to up your fiber intake is by eating more fruits and vegetables. Soluble fiber can also be found in nuts, barley and flax seed.

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