Having healthy gut bacteria is important for not only our digestive health, but also the health of the rest of our body. So we take probiotics, avoid antibiotics when unnecessary, and eat probiotic foods such as yogurt and cultured sauerkraut. 

But have you considered eating white bread for better gut health? It certainly never occurred to me before. But a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found a connection between eating white bread and better levels of Lactobacillus, a group of beneficial bacteria. 

The authors of the study wanted to see the correlation between diet and gut microbes. Other studies had looked at the effect of specific probiotics and fibers, but not at many polyphenols — a class of chemical compounds found in plants, including many antioxidants — and how interactions between polyphenols and fiber can affect our gut microbes. 

They surveyed 38 healthy adults on their diets and through stool samples, examined each person's gut microbes. They found a connection between pectin, something in citrus fruits, and lowered beneficial bacteria. This is in contrast to past studies using pectin alone that showed a beneficial effect, suggesting that pectin interacts with something in citrus that creates a different effect. They also found a surprising connection between eating white bread and boosting Lactobacillus.

While certainly I'd like to see these results backed up with future studies, I find it intriguing. It makes you appreciate how little we know about how our bodies interact with food.

Related on MNN:

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.