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Plantain and broccoli fiber could help prevent relapses of Crohn's disease, a new study suggests.

Crohn's disease is a condition, in which the intestines can become painfully inflamed, causing diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss.

Now scientists have found that certain types of soluable fiber can help prevent bacteria from sticking to the gut's walls, and hence reduce the progress of the disease.

They found soluable fibre from plantain and broccoli - dubbed a 'superfood' for its abilities to fight cancer and prevent furring of arteries - had a marked effect. However, soluble fiber from leeks and apples did not.

Prof Jonathan Rhodes, a gastroenterologist at Liverpool University, led the laboratory study.

He and his team added a common type of E coli bacteria to lab-grown bowel lining 'microfold' cells, then tested them with soluble fiber from different fruits and vegetables.

"Soluble fiber might have a beneficial effect by blocking adhesion to the intestinal lining of potentially harmful bacteria," the Telegraph quoted Thodes as saying.

A clinical study looking at the effect in people is now underway, but Prof Rhodes thought those with the condition "would probably have to eat at least one large plantain each day" to see an effect.

Bananas, from the same family and more commonly available, were also likely to be beneficial. However, Rhodes said they contained less soluble fiber so people would have to consume more.

The results are published in the British Medical Journal.