White Bread May Boost Healthy Gut Bacteria: Good Microbes Encouraged

First Posted: Jun 12, 2014 10:04 AM EDT

When people try to eat healthier, they usually skip the white bread and go for whole grains. Yet it seems as if white bread may not be as bad for you as once thought. Scientists have found that white bread actually encourages the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which could mean that choosing this type of bread isn't completely unhealthy.

The bacteria in our guts, called our microbiomes, play an important role when it comes to our health. When certain populations of bacteria drop, we actually become more prone to disease. That's why it's crucial to have a good diet; what we eat determines the bacteria in our guts, which can promote good health.

In the past, researchers have looked at several different types of foods in order to determine what dietary ingredients might promote healthful bacteria. More specifically, they've examined individual fibers and probiotics. Yet very few have examined the role of polyphenols, which are common in a lot of what we consume, or how polyphenols and fibers help balance our gut microbes. That's why in this case, the researchers took a bit of a closer look.

The scientists asked 38 adults questions about their diets. Then, they examined what bacteria were present in the participants' stool samples. In the end, the scientists found that pectin lowers levels of some helpful bacteria. This is actually contrary to previous research on pectin alone, which can be found in citrus fruits. More interestingly, they found that white bread actually boosts Lactobacillus, which is a group of beneficial bacteria.

Next time you eat some white bread, don't feel too bad. It could be boosting some beneficial bacteria. That said, eat everything in moderation.

The findings are published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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