There is evidence suggesting that excessive intake of soybean oil is associated with many health concerns, such as obesity and diabetes. Furthermore, there are possible links between high consumption of soybean oil and conditions such as autism, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, and depression. The expanding catalogue of medical conditions has been supplemented by recent scientific investigations, which have included ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is classified as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that manifests as persistent inflammation of the colon.

A study conducted by researchers affiliated with the University of California, Riverside, included the investigation of the gastrointestinal tract of laboratory mice that were subjected to a prolonged dietary regimen rich in soybean oil, spanning a duration of up to 24 weeks. The researchers observed a drop in good bacteria and an increase in dangerous bacteria, notably adherent invasive Escherichia coli, which may contribute to the development of colitis.

Soybean oil is widely used as a primary edible oil in the United States and is seeing growing adoption in various other nations, notably Brazil, China, and India. Soybean output in the United States saw significant expansion throughout the 1970s, mostly driven by its use as animal feed. As a consequence of this upward trajectory, the production of soybean oil also witnessed a notable increase. Soybeans, being a viable protein source, has the advantageous qualities of being both cost-effective and easily cultivable.

According to Poonamjot Deol, an assistant professional researcher in the Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology and a co-corresponding author of the paper published in Gut Microbes on July 3, our research challenges the long-standing belief that the consumption of excessive saturated fats from animal products is the primary cause of many chronic diseases. Additionally, it questions the assumption that unsaturated fats from plants are inherently healthier.

Deol et al.  discovered that a dietary regimen rich in soybean oil promotes the proliferation of adherent invasive Escherichia coli (E. coli) inside the gastrointestinal tract. The aforementioned microorganism utilizes linoleic acid as a carbon source in order to fulfill its nutritional requirements. Moreover, it has been shown that some advantageous bacteria present in the gastrointestinal tract are unable to tolerate the presence of linoleic acid, leading to their demise. Consequently, this creates a favorable environment for the proliferation of dangerous bacteria. The presence of adherent invasive Escherichia coli (E. coli) has been seen in human subjects, leading to the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

According to Deol, the susceptibility of the gut to inflammation and its subsequent consequences is attributed to the simultaneous occurrence of the decline of beneficial bacteria and the proliferation of dangerous bacteria. Moreover, linoleic acid increases the permeability of the intestinal epithelial barrier.

The maintenance of a healthy gut relies heavily on the barrier function of the intestinal epithelium. Any disruption to this function may result in an elevation in permeability or the condition often referred to as “leakiness.” Subsequently, toxins have the potential to permeate the intestinal barrier and get access to the circulatory system, so significantly augmenting the susceptibility to infections and the development of chronic inflammatory disorders, such as colitis. The researchers see a correlation between the rise in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and the surge in soybean oil use inside the United States. Consequently, they propose a hypothesis suggesting a potential association between these two factors.


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