ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — By now you’ve probably heard of fermented foods. They’re thought to provide good bacteria that promotes a healthy digestive system. But there are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to incorporating these foods into your diet. Ivanhoe explains.
Yogurt … pickles … sauerkraut … and kombucha. Fermented foods like these are a popular way to boost your gut health.
“The healthier your gut is, the healthier overall well-being will be,” explained Dan Brewer, Chef Dietitian at Saint Louis University.
Studies have also suggested that fermented foods may reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. But make sure you’re doing it right when it comes to fermented foods. Do look for products that contain active live cultures. If the food is canned, the beneficial bacteria was killed in the process.
“If it’s still refrigerated than more than likely it still has live active cultures in it,” continued Brewer.
Look for statements on the label like “contains probiotics”, “unpasteurized”, or “contains live cultures”. And don’t buy products with added sugar. Some yogurts and kombuchas contain as much sugar as soda! It’s also a good idea to check out the sodium content. If you’re purchasing sauerkraut, do make sure it’s raw and doesn’t contain vinegar or preservatives which can lessen the benefits. And when it comes to fermented foods, don’t overdo it.
“Incorporating a little bit of them every day is a good way or you can just eat them once or twice a week,” said Brewer.
Though consuming fermented foods is considered a relatively new dietary trend, people have been fermenting for about ten thousand years. It originally started to preserve food, but today, we do it to add flavor and health benefits.
Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
DO’S AND DON’TS OF FERMENTED FOODS
BACKGROUND: Fermented foods go through controlled microbial growth and fermentation, which is an anaerobic process in which microorganisms, like yeast and bacteria, break down food components, like sugars, into other products, like organic acids, gases, or alcohol. These foods have been part of the human diet for centuries and were initially produced to preserve foods, improve flavor, and eliminate food toxins. However, people are now turning to these foods for their potential health benefits. Most foods can be fermented from whole foods like vegetables, fruits, cereals, dairy, meat, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds. While these foods are nutritious in their original form, through fermentation, they have the potential to carry additional health benefits
PROBIOTICS AND PREBIOTICS: Probiotics are live microorganisms, or bacteria, that provide health benefits to the human body. Experts believe that most strains, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, benefit the gut by creating a more favorable gut environment. There are other benefits such as supporting organ health, like lungs, reproductive, skin, and mood, but there is not enough evidence to say that all probiotics have these effects. Prebiotics are food ingredients that the microorganisms in your body use or ‘feed’ on to grow and live, leading to health benefits. Most fruits and vegetables, and legumes contain some type of prebiotic. Many health benefits have been associated with fermented foods, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and inflammation. They have also been linked to better weight management, better mood and brain activity, increased bone health and better recovery after exercise.
FERMENTED FOOD DIET LOWERS INFLAMMATION: Researchers at Stanford School of Medicine led a clinical trial where 36 healthy adults were randomly assigned to a 10-week diet that included either fermented or high-fiber foods. Each diet resulted in different effects on the gut microbiome and the immune system. Eating foods such as yogurt, kefir, fermented cottage cheese, kimchi and other fermented vegetables, vegetable brine drinks, and kombucha tea led to an increase in overall microbial diversity, with stronger effects from larger servings. Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology said, “It provides one of the first examples of how a simple change in diet can reproducibly remodel the microbiota across a cohort of healthy adults.” In addition, four types of immune cells showed less activation in the fermented-food group, and the levels of 19 inflammatory proteins measured in blood samples also decreased. One of these proteins, interleukin 6, has been linked to conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes and chronic stress.
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