Nopal (Opuntia ficus indica) protects from metabolic endotoxemia by modifying gut microbiota in obese rats fed high fat/sucrose diet.
Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 5 ;7(1):4716. Epub 2017 Jul 5. PMID: 28680065
Current efforts are directed to reducing the gut dysbiosis and inflammation produced by obesity. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether consuming nopal, a vegetable rich in dietary fibre, vitamin C, and polyphenols can reduce the metabolic consequences of obesity by modifying the gut microbiota and preventing metabolic endotoxemia in rats fed a high fat and sucrose diet. With this aim, rats were fed a high fat diet with 5% sucrose in the drinking water (HFS) for 7 months and then were fed for 1 month with HFS + 5% nopal (HFS + N). The composition of gut microbiota was assessed by sequencing the 16S rRNA gene. Nopal modified gut microbiota and increased intestinal occludin-1 in the HFS + N group. This was associated with a decrease in metabolic endotoxemia, glucose insulinotropic peptide, glucose intolerance, lipogenesis, and metabolic inflexibility. These changes were accompanied by reduced hepatic steatosis and oxidative stress in adipose tissue and brain, and improved cognitive function, associated with an increase in B. fragilis. This study supports the use of nopal as a functionalfood and prebiotic for its ability to modify gut microbiota and to reduce metabolic endotoxemia and other obesity-related biochemical abnormalities.