In a recent review published in Foods, a group of authors assessed the influence of Brazilian native fruits and their by-products on human intestinal microbiota and their potential role in mitigating non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs) based on current scientific literature.
Study: Evidence for the Beneficial Effects of Brazilian Native Fruits and Their By-Products on Human Intestinal Microbiota and Repercussions on Non-Communicable Chronic Diseases—A Review. Image Credit: Elena Eryomenko/Shutterstock.com
NCDs like hypertension, obesity, and diabetes are leading global mortality causes. Their development is linked to lifestyle factors such as poor diet, inactivity, and tobacco use, and increasingly, research emphasizes the relationship between NCDs and imbalances in the intestinal microbiota.
Plant-based diets, rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, are key to NCD prevention. Brazilian native fruits, originating from diverse biomes, are rich in bioactive compounds, and their processing not only allows for fresh consumption but also yields by-products rich in valuable elements like phenolics, providing substantial health benefits.
Further research is needed to elucidate the precise mechanisms through which Brazilian native fruits, their by-products, and their bioactive compounds influence intestinal microbiota and subsequently impact the onset and progression of non-communicable chronic diseases.
The role of intestinal microbiota in NCDs
NCDs like cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, and cancer stem from genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors and are aggravated by high-sugar, high-fat diets.
Obesity induces chronic inflammation and cardiovascular threats, dyslipidemia interferes with lipid metabolism, raising heart disease risks, and diabetes, marked by continuous hyperglycemia, impairs endothelial cells.
All these conditions share ties with microbiota imbalances, which not only influence the onset of NCDs but also significantly affect gut health and overall wellness.
Microbiota imbalances & health implications
Variations in microbiota can disrupt gut equilibrium, leading to intestinal and systemic diseases. Distinct microbiota profiles, including higher Firmicutes and Proteobacteria abundance, are observed in obesity and diabetes.
Diet, probiotics & health
Nutrition is essential in managing NCDs, and probiotics and food-bioactive compounds can modulate the gut microbiota to promote health. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) from a healthy diet enhance various physiological processes, supporting systemic health.
Brazilian native fruits & health benefits
Brazilian native fruits like açaí (Euterpe oleracea Mart.), acerola (Malpighia emarginata D.C.), guava (Psidium guajava L.), jabuticaba (Myrciaria jaboticaba (Vell.) Berg), baru (Dipteryx alata Vog.), buriti (Mauritia flexuosa L.), juçara (Euterpe edulis Mart.), and passion fruit (Passiflora capsularis L.) are abundant in bioactive components.
These components can influence intestinal microbiota, offering benefits like anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, improved insulin sensitivity, and dyslipidemia management.
These fruits contain essential dietary fibers that aid in lipid and carbohydrate absorption, enhance intestinal motility, and help reduce food intake. Rich in phenolic compounds, these fruits possess anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties and can stimulate beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Due to their nutrient richness, Brazilian native fruits are effective in preventing and mitigating symptoms of numerous NCDs.
Effects of Brazilian native fruits on intestinal microbiota
Acaí, indigenous to the Amazon, contains anthocyanins, which influence colonic fermentation. Its fermentation leads to alterations in certain bacterial groups and produces organic acids.
Phenolic compounds in açaí have antioxidant effects that safeguard deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Additionally, an anthocyanin-rich açaí extract demonstrated its efficacy in addressing obesity-related issues in mice.
Clinical trials with overweight individuals consuming açaí showed reduced oxidative stress indicators.
Acerola, a tropical fruit grown in Brazil, positively affects probiotic growth. Research shows acerola by-product enhances the growth of certain probiotics and leads to carbohydrate consumption.
This reduces pH and increases the production of various organic acids. Furthermore, fermenting acerola by-product modifies the composition of intestinal bacteria, promoting health-related metabolites.
Additional research demonstrates acerola's potential to improve gut health and lipid metabolism in rats with diet-induced dyslipidemia.
Moreover, the fruit contains dietary fiber and phenolic compounds, including myricetin, salicylic acid, 2,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid, catechin, and rutin, which are beneficial for the gut microbiota.
Guava, a tropical fruit native to America, is a major product in Brazil. Guava by-products can promote the growth of probiotics, producing health-beneficial metabolites.
Furthermore, guava supplements have been shown to improve colon health, reduce fat absorption, and support metabolic activities in rats.
Guava-leaf extract has exhibited anti-diabetic properties in a study on mice. Guava's therapeutic qualities, including polysaccharides and other compounds, have been explored for various health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and diarrhea, emphasizing its potential to modulate the intestinal microbiota and confer health benefits.
During the processing of Jabuticaba, a Brazilian fruit, a by-product is produced which, when fermented, positively influences gut microbes, boosting beneficial strains such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. The by-product also modifies phenolic compounds due to factors like pH and enzymes.
Adding jabuticaba peel and seeds to a mouse high-fat diet led to health benefits like better weight and glucose control. The peel extract helped rats with colitis, promoting a healthier gut microbiome.
Additionally, when added to yogurt, jabuticaba seed extract reduced inflammation and aided gut health in rats with colon cancer, showing its cancer-fighting potential and antioxidant properties.
Baru, from the Cerrado biome, has by-products like pulp and peel. In studies, Baru pulp showed potential prebiotic effects, acting as a viable carbon source for certain probiotic strains and modifying pH and organic acid production.
In vitro fermentation showed that baru pulp enhances the abundance of beneficial gut bacteria. The pulp's high fiber content, alongside its phenolic compounds, may be responsible for these effects.
Furthermore, baru nut oil exhibits health benefits, such as reducing thrombus formation in rats and boosting antioxidant activity in obese women.
Buriti pulp is a renowned fruit in Brazilian regions. Its oil, especially when combined with fermented milk and specific bacterial strains, has been studied for its impact on the intestinal microbiota of young adults.
The milk showed an increased cell count of certain beneficial bacteria and changed the microbial composition in a way that suggests potential health benefits. The pulp contains dietary fiber and several phenolic compounds, which could be responsible for these effects.
Moreover, buriti pulp oil has properties that mitigate oxidative damage, as observed in a study on Wistar rats.
Jucara, native to the Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil, undergoes fermentation, increasing the relative abundance of certain beneficial bacteria. Phenolic compounds in its pulp might influence this microbial balance, and exposure to simulated gastrointestinal digestion changes the content of these compounds.
Research on juçara has linked its consumption with health benefits such as reduced weight gain and improved glucose tolerance. In a study with obese adults, juçara pulp intake was associated with a notable increase in the relative abundance of beneficial bacteria and short-chain fatty acids in feces.
When added to fermented milk, Passion fruit pulp enhanced bacterial cell counts and increased acetic and butyric acid levels. Similarly, fermented goat milk paired with passion fruit by-products showed a rise in certain beneficial bacteria and a positive association with butyric acid.
The fruit's soluble dietary fiber, when tested on mice with colitis, minimized weight loss, reinstated beneficial compounds, diminished inflammation, and promoted gut health.