Soluble fibre supplements could become a complementary, non-pharmacological treatment for people with poorly managed asthma, according to Australian researchers.
The study, carried out at Newcastle University’s Centre for Healthy Lungs, found fibre supplements given to humans to treat asthma had positive results.
The researchers gave a number of stable asthmatics daily supplements with inulin, a soluble fibre supplement.
Changes in asthma control, lung function and gut microbiota were then monitored.
Biomedical science professor Lisa Wood said the preliminary results were surprising and encouraging.
“Soluble fibre is an intervention that has been mainly for diseases that are associated with the colon, but recently it’s been discovered that some of the mediators that are produced when soluble fibre is digested move into the blood stream,” Dr Wood said.
“There the soluble fibre can affect the immune cell, which can then affect other organs like the lungs.
“So in this trial, when people consumed the soluble fibre intervention they had a reduction in their airway inflammation and improvement in their asthma control.”
Dr Wood said the trial involved 17 people with asthma.
“And now we need to extend it into a larger, longer-term trial to get a definitive as to whether or not this could be used as a treatment for asthma,” she said.
“We need funding to look at this as an alternative approach because we really don’t want asthma medications to be the only options for people with asthma.”
In the meantime, Dr Wood said the approach undertaken in the study was a health method anyone could trial.
“Soluble fibre is present in high concentrations in fruit and vegetables and wholegrains, so if people are wanting to try this strategy, then certainly increasing those healthy foods in the diet is a sensible approach,” she said.