People who eat muesli regularly may be able to improve their bone strength and protect themselves against the development of osteoporosis and arthritis, new research suggests.
The study, carried out by scientists from Friedrich-Alexander University in Germany, led to the discovery that high-fibre breakfast cereals can significantly improve bone health in later life, as long as they are consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Researchers focused their attentions on bacteria levels in the gut and their impact on a person's wider health. They found that consuming higher amounts of fibre from sources such as muesli helped to improve levels of healthy bacteria in the intestines, which in turn can have a positive impact on the immune system.
As a result, people who eat more fibre are less likely to experience high levels of inflammation in their bodies, meaning they are at less risk of developing conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and subsequent osteoporosis.
Women in particular are at increased risk of these conditions after they have gone through the menopause, so the findings suggest that increasing their intake of foods with a high fibre content, such as muesli, around this time in their lives could have potentially significant benefits for their health.
Dr Mario Zaiss, lead researcher on the study team, commented: "We were able to show that a bacteria-friendly diet has an anti-inflammatory effect, as well as a positive effect on bone density.
"Our findings offer a promising approach for developing innovative therapies for inflammatory joint diseases, as well as for treating osteoporosis, which is often suffered by women after the menopause."
He added that while his team is not currently in a position to recommended a diet plan focused entirely around friendly gut bacteria, muesli for breakfast is a good starting point, alongside lots of fruit and veg "to maintain a rich variety of bacterial species".
Written by Megan Smith
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