Gut health and cold symptoms: the surprising connection

Here is some good gut news just in time for cough & cold season. A recent study showed that a happy gut — one that regularly enjoys Regular Girl’s gut-loving soluble fiber — may reduce the number of days you feel sniffly, beaten down, and achy! This is promising news as we enter peak cold and cough season. This new human clinical research, published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, revealed that Sunfiber (that’s the prebiotic fiber in Regular Girl) helps limit common cold symptoms by supporting a healthy gut microbiome. Thank you, gut microbes!
According to Regular Girl science guru Derek Timm, PhD, RDN, “This new study connects the dots between regularity, postbiotics and immune support.”
Researchers in Japan followed 96 healthy adults over a 12-week period. Study participants received either 5.2 grams of Sunfiber or a placebo daily, and kept diaries of their cold-like symptoms. Researchers also measured the participants’ levels of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in their stool and their blood immune markers at the study’s beginning and at weeks 6 and 12. Bottom line: The researchers concluded that consuming Sunfiber “may affect immune function and suppress cold-like symptoms through the production of SCFAs in healthy adults.” Here are the details, and commentary by Timm.
  • The Sunfiber group had a statistically significant greater number of symptom-free days than the placebo group. “The rate of no symptoms was high among both groups. However, the Sunfiber group had more healthy, symptom-free days than the placebo, which is meaningful to most people. We all want more days where we feel good and are not dragged down by symptoms.”
  • There were significant differences between the Sunfiber and placebo groups for the vast majority of cold symptoms. “Sunfiber significantly reduced most general symptoms including runny nose, plugged nose, general malaise, arthralgia and chills. Additionally, Sunfiber reduced the number of days the participants experienced constipation or diarrhea. The overlap of improved digestive and cold-like symptoms demonstrates the connection between gut and immune health.”
  • There were steady increases in all SCFAs, most interestingly butyric acid levels were significantly higher in Sunfiber compared with the placebo group. “SCFAs are postbiotics that confer health benefits. In addition, total SCFAs and propionate were all significantly higher than placebo. We know Sunfiber produces SCFAs including high levels of butyric acid, but it’s exciting to corroborate earlier findings.
“Since 70 percent of the immune system is at the gut level, these increases speak to the potential mechanism of action. We observed some improvements in immunological markers; however, most did not reach statistical significance. Despite this, we do see an association between cold symptoms, SCFA levels and immune markers. They may help explain the decrease in cold symptoms within the Sunfiber group.” To learn more about how Regular Girl’s prebiotic fiber affects the gut microbiome, check out Timm’s white paper on the topic. He describes the gut microflora and explains how our prebiotic fiber supports gut health without excess gas or bloating.
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