Switching to a Protein-Rich Diet May Help Treat Bowel Disease 

Consuming foods rich in protein such as nuts, eggs and poultry may make your gut stronger and more tolerant to inflammation.

Switching to a Protein-Rich Diet May Help Treat Bowel Disease

Tryptophan is one of the essential building blocks of protein


  • Protein-rich diet may make your gut strong & protect against inflammation
  • Tryptophan is one of the essential building blocks of protein
  • The study was published in the journal Science
The benefits of a protein-rich diet are not unknown. It helps in boosting your energy levels, builds muscles and even accelerates weight loss. A new study, published in the Journal Science, shows that consuming foods rich in protein such as nuts, eggs, poultry and even chocolate may make your gut stronger and more tolerant to inflammation, providing relief to those people who suffer from bowel disease. 

The study was carried out by a team of researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in the United States has found that a kind of tolerance-promoting immune cell appears in mice that carry a specific bacterium in their guts. This bacterium requires tryptophan to thrive and flourish which helps in triggering the cells' appearance. Tryptophan is one of the essential building blocks of protein which is mostly found in foods such as nuts, seeds, eggs, beans, poultry, yogurt and even treats like cheese and chocolate.

According to Marco Colonna, professor at University of Washington, "We established a link between one bacterial species - Lactobacillus reuteri - that is a normal part of the gut microbiome, and the development of a population of cells that promote tolerance. The more tryptophan the mice had in their diet, the more of these immune cells they had."

For the study, the team analysed two groups of mice. One group of study mice had a kind of immune cell that promotes tolerance, while the other group of study mice were the same strain of mice but were housed far from the first group and they did not have such immune cells. The mice were genetically identical but had been born and raised separately, indicating that an environmental factor influenced whether the immune cells developed or not. Researchers sequenced the DNA from the intestines of the two groups of mice and found six bacterial species present in the mice with the immune cells which were absent from the mice without them.

In order to understand how the bacteria affected the immune system, researchers grew L reuteri in liquid and then transferred small amounts of the liquid without the bacteria to the immature immune cells isolated from mice. The results showed that immune cells developed into tolerance-promoting cells.

Further, when the active component was purified from the liquid, it turned out to be a by-product of tryptophan metabolism known as indole-3-lactic acid. When the researchers doubled the amount of tryptophan in the mice's feed, the number of such cells rose by about 50 per cent and when the tryptophan levels were halved, the number of cells also dropped by half.

According to the researchers, people have the same tolerance-promoting cells as mice, and most of also us shelter the bacetrian - L reuteri in our gastrointestinal tracts. They conclude that if these findings are validated in further experiments, they could suggest that a combination of L reuteri and a tryptophan-rich diet may foster a more tolerant, less inflammatory gut environment, which could mean relief for people living with the abdominal pain and diarrhoea which are some of the common symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. 

Macrobiotic Nutritionist Shilpa Arora tells us, "You must get your daily protein requirement that is around 46 grams for an average woman and 56 grams for men. The highest quality of protein is that, which includes all the essential amino acids and is bio-available to the human body. Of all the essential amino acids, the following four are critical for strength and recovery - Valine, Leucine, Isoleucine and Glutamine."

Inputs from PTI