Supplementing food with soluble corn fibre at two critical times in a woman's life - adolescence and post-menopause can help build and retain calcium in the bones, two studies have found.
"We are looking deeper in the gut to build healthy bone in girls and help older women retain strong bones during an age when they are susceptible to fractures," said Purdue University Professor Connie Weaver, who was associated with both the studies.
"Soluble corn fibre, a prebiotic, helps the body better utilise calcium during both adolescence and post-menopause. The gut microbiome is the new frontier in health," Weaver noted.
A prebiotic fibre passes through the gut for the microbes in the lower gut to digest. Weaver found that soluble corn fibre is broken down into short chain fatty acids to aid in bone health.
In the post-menopausal study, calcium retention was measured in 14 women by using an isotope to measure the excretion of 41Ca to measure bone loss.
The women consumed zero grams, 10 grams or 20 grams of this non-digestible carbohydrate each day for 50 days.
Bone calcium retention was improved by 4.8 percent and seven percent for those who consumed 10 grams and 20 grams, respectively.
"If projected out for a year, this would equal and counter the average rate of bone loss in a post-menopausal woman," Weaver said.
In the adolescent study, 31 girls either consumed zero grams, 10 grams or 20 grams of soluble corn fibre carbohydrate each day for three weeks while maintaining their regular diets.
Both 10 grams and 20 grams led to improved calcium absorption by 12 percent for female adolescents, which would build 1.8 percent more skeleton a year, the study said.
In both studies, gastrointestinal symptoms were minimal and the same for the control groups, as well as in those who consumed soluble corn fibre.
"We found this prebiotic can help healthy people use minerals better to support bone health," Weaver said.
The post-menopause findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and the adolescent findings appeared in the Journal of Nutrition.
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