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Ahead of the Curve

Early-Stage Discoveries: Bifidobacteria, Green Tea, Curcumin, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Vitamin D

Good results in the lab can lead to larger human trials. Here are some of the most promising recent findings.

Probiotic may treat Celiac disease

People with Celiac disease (CD), who can’t metabolize gluten, are low in the bifidobacteria strains of probiotics. Even on a gluten-free diet, those with CD may not be able to rebalance the gut microbiome on their own. In the lab, doctors extracted gluten proteins from wheat flour and exposed them to four strains of bifidobacteria: bifidum, longum, bembidion breve, and animalis; separately and together. The longum strain most effectively broke down the gluten, reducing the toxic gut response (cytotoxic) and inflammation.

Reference: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry; 2020, Vol. 68, No. 15, 4485-92

Green tea reduced NAFLD

Those with obesity often have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. In the lab, mice on a high-fat diet got regular exercise alone, got green tea alone, or the combination of the two, for 16 weeks. Compared to exercise or green tea alone, those getting exercise with green tea extract saw a 75 percent reduction in the severity of obesity-related fatty liver disease symptoms.

Doctors said polyphenols in green tea interact with digestive enzymes in the small intestine to partially inhibit the breakdown of carbohydrates, fat, and protein.

Reference 2: Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry; 2020, Vol. 76, 108262

Nutrients improved dry eye

Dry eye occurs when the eye does not produce enough tears, or when the tears evaporate too quickly. In the lab, doctors blended curcumin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin D into an oil suspension, and gave the solution to rats with dry eye. After four weeks, there was significant improvement in tear volume, increase in tear breakup time, improvement in tear film integrity, and reduced overall inflammation. Discussing the findings, doctors said the dry eye benefit may come from these antioxidants lowering oxidative stress.

Reference 3: Current Developments in Nutrition; 2020, 4 (Supplement 2), 441

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