At UCBM researchers demonstrated the anti-inflammatory action on the gastrointestinal mucosa

It has been known for some time that 'good' intestinal bacteria, in particular bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, are fond of it. Which, thanks to its presence, can proliferate and thus defend the intestine from some harmful bacterial species. Now there is scientific confirmation that inulin, a simple sugar from the fructan family, is also able to protect the gastrointestinal mucosa from the excess of free radicals caused by harmful substances such as Lipopolysaccharide (LPS). An endotoxin present in some bacteria, LPS can cause inflammation throughout the body and, in particular, of the intestinal wall. Among the consequences: abnormal cellular aging and a greater risk of developing tumors or liver diseases. The confirmation of this beneficial property of inulin at the level of the intestinal mucosa is the result of the work of a group of researchers fromUniversità Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, composed of gastroenterologists and food scientists. The study with which this characteristic was verified 'in vitro' was recently published in the scientific journal PLoS One.

"According to the experimental data – emphasizes the prof Laura De Gara, Professor of Plant Physiology at the Campus Bio-Medico and author of the study – the ability to eliminate free radicals of inulin was significantly greater than that of other simple sugars. In particular, its ability to eliminate hydroxyl, the most dangerous radical produced by our cells, was found to be comparable, if not superior, to that of vitamin C and other biological molecules with similar properties. We also found that, unlike other molecules, this property of inulin remained unchanged even after the cooking and digestion processes of foods containing it".

"Let's talk about a substance - explains the Prof. Michele Cicala, Associate of Gastroenterology at Campus Bio-Medico and co-author of the research – not digestible by humans and, therefore, capable of traveling through the gastrointestinal tract arriving unchanged at the level of the colon, where it exerts its antioxidant activity by carrying out its beneficial functions at the point where the intestinal flora is most represented".

Long known for its rebalancing properties at the intestinal microflora level, inulin is present in nature above all in the roots of chicory, but also in garlic, onion, artichokes, bananas and, for those who can afford them, in the highly prized white truffles. It has been available on the market for years in special food supplements, so far used above all to intervene on the so-called intestinal dysbiosis, i.e. the alteration of the normal bacterial flora of the intestine, but also to reduce triglycerides deriving from poor nutrition and as a laxative, moreover with fewer side effects than the traditional and better known lactose.

Campus Bio-Medico researchers are now continuing their studies to understand the cellular mechanism that allows inulin to carry out its anti-inflammatory activity and its possible beneficial effects on the motor function of the intestine. The objective is the identification of new therapeutic strategies for widespread pathologies, such as irritable bowel syndrome, or for inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, which mainly affect the young population and significantly affect particularly negative on quality of life. The ambition is to transform an excellent prebiotic into a new, effective, gastrointestinal antioxidant. Free radicals are warned.