Lemon Pectin & Gut Bacteria

A study led by researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia added to the growing body of documentation on the links between lemon pectin and gut health.

Gut bacteria are crucial to maintaining good health and reducing the risk of many chronic illnesses. Finding viable prebiotics – or a substance that, because it can’t be digested, promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms – is a public health goal that benefits everyone.

Pectin is increasingly under the spotlight as a natural prebiotic. Here’s how it works:

  • We eat the pectin as part of consuming a lemon;
  • Pectin cannot be digested, so it travels from the stomach to the intestines;
  • In the intestines, the gut bacteria feed off the pectin (and other prebiotics) as they linger in the digestive system.

Essentially, consuming prebiotics is like fertilizing the gut microbiome.

Pectin has been used in other clinical trials as a prebiotic, much of the time with positive results that include:

  • Reduced inflammation;
  • Enhanced immunity;
  • Better cell barrier functions;
  • Among others.

However, it’s a very complex area with much still to learn, and the results can vary from study to study. That’s due at least in part to the fact that there are different types of pectin, even in a single fruit such as a lemon.

The new study, titled Modulation of the Gut Microbiota Structure and Function by Two Structurally Different Lemon Pectins, and published in the journal Foods in December 2022. It examines how different types of pectin, with a different internal structure, might influence gut bacteria.

The results showed that each type of pectin has a different effect on the gut microbiota structure and function. They seem to influence different types of bacteria and microorganisims. The knowledge adds to our understanding of the complex nature of how our bodies respond to prebiotics, and their relationship to our health.

The more we understand, the more lemons and other citrus fruits emerge as a powerhouse of health benefits.

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