Former UROP-HHMI researcher Rachel Roller is a coauthor on a new study that suggests that lesser-known gut-health promoters known as prebiotics – which serve as food for good bacteria inside the gut – can also have an impact on health, improving sleep and buffering the physiological impacts of stress. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience in January 2017.
Prebiotics are dietary fibers found naturally in foods like chicory, artichokes, raw garlic, leeks and onions. When beneficial bacteria digest prebiotic fiber, they not only multiply, improving overall gut health, but they also release metabolic byproducts. Some research suggests these byproducts can influence brain function, explains lead author Monika Fleshner, a professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology. Other CU Boulder researchers who authored the study include Robert Thompson, Agnieszka Mika, and Monika Fleshner. Read more about the study here.