The fruit reduces inflammatory responses in the colon and repopulates the gut with 'good' bacteria. In turn, this "significantly suppresses" common IBD symptoms such as weight loss and bloody diarrhea.
IBD is an umbrella term for a range of gut-related problems like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis that affects around 3 million Americans.
A high-sugar, high-fat diet is often blamed for triggering IBD, but researchers from the University of Massachusetts say that simply adding a cup of strawberries to the daily diet can counter the worst effects of the problem.
The researchers are the first to demonstrate that the fruit helps reverse IBD symptoms. Previous researchers have been unable to produce positive results, but this may have been because they were using extracts and compounds, instead of using the whole fruit, which the Massachusetts researchers have done.
"When you only test the purified compounds, you miss out on a lot of other important components in the berries, such as dietary fibre, as well as phenolic compounds that can't be extracted," said lead researcher Hang Xiao.
The results have been seen only in laboratory mice, but the researchers are hopeful the fruit will have the same effects in people suffering with IBD.
(Source: Proceedings of the American Chemical Society national meeting, August 20, 2018)