Colon blow: High fiber diets linked to increased risk of E. coli O157?

According to new research published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, people who consume diets rich in fiber are at an increased risk of contracting Escherichia coli (E. coli) which can lead to O157:H7 infection and severe disease.

colonblowThe study found that “dietary choice affects Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 colonization and disease.”

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) researchers found that mice who were fed high fiber diets (HFD) had very high levels of intestinal butyrate, a gut metabolite which enhances the gut binding-capacity of Shiga toxin – of the bacterium E. coli.

Alison O’Brien, Ph.D., chair of USU’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, led the study, which was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

While the study does indicate that there is a connection between risk for E. coli infection and high fiber diets, it doesn’t promote changing eating habits that are healthy, especially given that eating fiber is an effective means of reducing the risk of first time stroke, according to a study published in the journal Stroke.

She concluded that “high fiber diets are good for you. However, fresh produce comes from all over the world, so we need to be extra vigilant in keeping our produce free of microbial contaminants.”