Fermented Foods Improve Gut Health

Article by SoLongevity Research
A diet rich in these foods increases the diversity of microorganisms in the gut microbiome and reduces inflammation.

What this article is about

  • The gut microbiome changes with diet
  • A diet rich in fermented foods increases the biodiversity of the gut microbiome, both in the number and type of microorganisms
  • Fermented foods reduce inflammation, promote weight maintenance, and lower the risk of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease
  • Diet, with the support of specific supplements when needed, could be a real therapy

Yoghurt, kefir & co. are good for our bacteria

From yogurt to kefir, from cottage cheese and other cheeses to sauerkraut and beets: these are all fermented foods that are good for our gut health. This is the claim of a Stanford School of Medicine research team that examined the effects of an eating plan rich in these foods, comparing them with high-fiber foods. Specifically, the diet with fermented foods increased the biodiversity of microorganisms that make up the gut microbiome and reduced inflammation as measured by levels of certain immune cells. The study, so far conducted on a small sample of volunteers, is published in the journal Cell.

Fermented foods or fiber?

Previous research indicated that a high-fiber diet may reduce overall mortality, while consumption of fermented foods promotes body weight maintenance and may help lower the risk of diabetescancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Knowing the relationship between diet and the gut microbiome helps improve our health

Building on this, the authors studied the impact of two diets, based on these two types of foods, on the gut microbiome. To do so, they involved 36 healthy adults, divided into two groups, who followed for 10 weeks two diets built specifically for the study: one based largely on fiber and the other on fermented foods. The latter included yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, particular vegetables including the Korean dish kimchifermented drinks and kombucha tea. While fiber-rich foods include whole grainsseedslegumesfruitsvegetables and nuts.

Fermented foods, such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, red beets, and apple cider vinegar, promote microbiome biodiversity

Less inflammation and better health

The results? Fermented foods stimulated the diversification of bacterial flora. The effect was greater as portion sizes increased. But that’s not all: the researchers found less activation of 4 classes of immune cells and lower blood levels of as many as 19 inflammation-promoting proteins. In the group that consumed a high amount of fiber, on the other hand, these same proteins did not change, and the gut microbiome also remained stable. The two results are both important because they show that a specific diet can lead to changes in gut flora in a short time and, at the same time, that the microbiome is resilient and stable.

Fermented foods increase the number of microorganisms and stimulate diversification of the gut microbiome

The research also shows that there is a higher amount of carbohydrates in the stool samples of participants who introduced more fiber. This result is in line with previous evidence, which indicated that in populations in industrialized countries the presence of fiber-degrading microorganisms is greatly reduced. But it is possible that with longer dietary intervention this would change.

Why study the microbiome

Researchers will delve into the mechanisms behind the findings. Understanding how microorganisms in the gut change depending on diet, is important for improving our health. Today there are many ways to change the gut microbiome, such as with targeted foods and probiotic and prebiotic supplements, and diet can be a real therapy for some people.

Today there are many ways to affect and modify the gut microbiome  

In short, our health also depends on our microbiome. And in this regard, it will be investigated whether fermented foods reduce inflammatory molecules or improve other biomarkers in patients with autoimmune and metabolic diseases, the elderly and pregnant women.

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