Good results in the lab can lead to larger human trials. Here are some of the most promising recent findings.
Oat and rye bran benefit gut microbiota
Dietary fiber from whole grains has many metabolic benefits. In the lab, doctors gave mice a high-fat diet with 10 percent of calories from either oat or rye bran. After 17 weeks, both oat and rye created a more favorable microbiome, with oat increasing the beneficial bacteria lactobacillus genera, and rye increasing bifidobacterium genera. Both oat and rye modified bile acid leading to better cholesterol metabolism. Also, both increased beneficial shortchain fatty acids, decreased liver inflammation, and slowed weight gain.
Quercetin for brain and heart
One of the most basic cell functions—its potential to rest or activate—is controlled by what is called the potassium ion channel. Doctors have discovered a nutrient in pickled capers, quercetin, activates this potassium ion channel, directly regulating proteins required for bodily functions including heartbeat, muscle contraction, thyroid, pancreas, digestion, and thought. Quercetin modulates how these channels sense electrical activity in each cell, suggesting a new mechanism with therapeutic potential that may extend to other quercetin-rich foods.
L. plantarum reduces oral bacteria
Acids from foods and beverages can begin breaking down tooth enamel, eventually leading to tooth decay. One of the major cavity-causing microbes is Streptococcus mutans. Here, doctors extracted 54 strains of lactobacilli from 14 types of Sichuan pickles. In the lab, doctors gave half of a group of rats infected with S. mutans one of the lactobacillus strains: L. plantarum K41. After 35 days, the L. plantarum group had 25 percent fewer cavities, and S. mutans had declined by 98.4 percent.