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The University of Southampton

Fibre supplements trialled in Southampton to support immune health

Published: 19 July 2023
Southampton fibre study
Southampton study to explore effects of fibre on the immune system

A new study in Southampton is exploring the effects of soluble fibre on the immune system.

Fibre is essential for healthy digestion – with strong evidence that diets higher in fibre are associated with a lower risk of certain diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

This latest study will investigate if fibre supplements could boost immune health in older people – with researchers recruiting around 70 participants aged 60 and older in the Southampton area.

It is led by Professor Philip Calder from the University of Southampton and NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre.

Increasing fibre intake

Half of the study’s participants will take a soluble corn fibre supplement each day for 12 weeks, with the other half taking a placebo supplement.

They will all complete questionnaires about their diet and gut health, and will be asked to provide blood, urine and poo samples.

The research team will use this information to assess any improvements in immune function, inflammation and gut bacteria.

Immune system explained

The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues and organs, which work together to protect the body from infection and other diseases.

As with most other parts of the body, the immune system becomes weaker with age, resulting in reduced vaccination responses and an increased risk of infection.

Research has shown that a person’s diet influences their immune system – fibre helps to maintain “healthy” gut bacteria, which supports immune health.

Taking part

Participant visits will take place at the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility at University Hospital Southampton.

The study is open to people aged 60 and older, who must be in generally good health and living in the community.

All participants will have their travel expenses covered.

Find out more by emailing or calling 075843 68983.

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