APR 17, 2024 10:39 AM PDT

Red Cabbage Juice Shown to Improve Gut Health in IBD Model

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Red cabbage is grown and eaten all over the world, and it can provide many beneficial nutrients including vitamins, antioxidants, polyphenols, and secondary plant metabolites called glucosinolates, which can be good for human health. In animal models, red cabbage intake can reduce oxidative stress, and lower inflammation. Research has now used a mouse model to show that red cabbage juice can relieve the inflammation that accompanies bowel disorders like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The findings have been reported in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, and they could help people who deal with gut diseases.

Image credit: Pixabay

IBD includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and the guts of IBD patients are chronically inflamed. These conditions cause weight loss, fatigue, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. IBD patients experience a range of illnesses that can be mild or debilitating. Treatment usually involves reducing inflammation, and medications for IBD might suppress the immune system or aim to reduce complications, such as infections.

But scientists are searching for better ways to treat IBD. Bioactive compounds, such as those found in red cabbage juice, may offer an alternative to drugs. In this study, the investigators showed that red cabbage juice can improve gut health and relieve the symptoms of IBD in a mouse model of the gut disorder.

Red cabbage juice changes the composition of the gut microbiome; it raises the abundance of healthy bacteria, leading to an increase in the production bacterial metabolites like of short-chain fatty acids, which ameliorate inflammation, noted study leader Santayana Rachagani, an associate professor at the University of Missouri.

The changes that the researchers observed in the mouse gut microbiomes reflected improvements in their gut barriers. That barrier is essential for keeping the gut microbiome and the many microorganisms it holds away from the rest of the body, where they could cause serious problems. There were anti-antioxidant effects in the animals as well as better colon function, which reduced both inflammation in the colon and damage in the intestine.

While these findings need to be replicated and confirmed in humans, mice have a similar intestinal composition, and there is good reason to think that the bioactive compounds in red cabbage juice may help people too.

Red cabbage juice also seems to raise the levels of beneficial gut microbes, which triggered the activity of an anti-inflammatory receptor in mice, added the co-first study author Nagabhishek Sirpu Natesh, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Missouri.

There were also increases in the levels of regulatory T cells, which lowered inflammation in the colon by promoting a healthy immune balance in the gut.

"These findings offer new insights into the mechanisms underlying red cabbage juice's therapeutic efficacy in ameliorating IBD," Rachagani said. "Its ability to modulate gut microbiota, activate anti-inflammatory pathways and enhance immune regulation underscores its potential as a valuable therapeutic agent for IBD and related inflammatory disorders."

Sources: University of Missouri, International Journal of Molecular Sciences

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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