24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
Fax: (361)578-5500
Regular Hours: M-Fri 8am - 5pm
Every 3rd Thurs of the Month - Extended Hours Until 7 pm

Nutrition
Resources
Basic InformationLatest News
Could a Japanese Plant Turn Cold Cuts Into Healthy Fare?Could Your Genes Be to Blame for Your Kid's Aversion to Broccoli?Dairy Foods May Be Good for You After AllAHA News: Food Insecurity's Long-Term Health ConsequencesPandemic Changed Families' Eating Habits, for Good and Bad: PollDiets That Lower Brain Iron Could Keep You SharpAHA News: Just How Healthy Are Pomegranates?Cutting Sugar in Packaged Foods Would Keep Millions of Americans From Illness: ReportDaily Coffee May Protect the HeartChange in the Kitchen Could Help Men in the BedroomFratelli Beretta Antipasto Trays Are the Source of Salmonella Outbreak: CDCA Little Wine & Certain Foods Could Help Keep Blood Pressure HealthyWhy Water Is Key to Your Heart's HealthSalmonella Illness in 17 States Tied to Salami, ProsciuttoWant That Healthy Skin Glow? These Foods Can Get You ThereVitamin D Might Help Prevent Early-Onset Colon CancerBreaded, Raw Chicken Recalled in Multi-State Salmonella OutbreakU.S. Kids Are Eating More 'Ultraprocessed' FoodsDiet Key to Better Health in People With DiabetesAHA News: Are Figs Good for You? Get the Whole Sweet StoryEating Less Meat Means a Healthier HeartChanging Diets Mean More Americans Are Anemic NowWant to Avoid Dementia? Add Some Color to Your PlateMcCormick Recalls Seasonings Over Salmonella RiskSimple Step Gets More School Kids Eating Their VeggiesEating Meat Raises Risk of Heart Disease: StudyCoffee Won't Upset Your Heartbeat. It Might Even Calm ItFermented Foods Could Boost Your MicrobiomeMany College Students Are Trying Out the New 'Fake Meats'Whole Grains Every Day: Key to Your Health and WaistlineAverage Soda Fountain Serving Exceeds Daily Recommended Added SugarsAHA News: How to Eat Right and Save Money at the Same TimePlant-Based Diet Best for Your HeartListeria Outbreak Linked to Precooked Chicken: CDCCan You Eat Your Way to Fewer Migraines?AHA News: Watermelon Is a Summertime Staple. But What's Hidden Behind the Sweetness?Most Americans Don't Follow Diets That Could Prevent CancerDelicious & Deadly: Southern U.S. Diet Tied to Higher Odds for Sudden DeathPotato Chips, Fatty Lunches Greatly Raise Your Heart RisksCoffee Could Perk Up Your LiverHow Healthy Are the New Plant-Based 'Fake Meats'?Fast-Food Companies Spending More on Ads Aimed at Youth'Plant-Based' or Low-Fat Diet: Which Is Better for Your Heart?Why Getting Your Groceries Online Might Be HealthierFewer Than 1 in 10 American Adults Get Enough Dietary FiberTwo Common Eating Habits That Can Really Pile on PoundsA Woman's Diet Might Help Her Avoid Breast CancerToo Much Caffeine Might Raise Your Odds for GlaucomaA Fruitful Approach to Preventing DiabetesAHA News: Is Mango the Luscious Superhero of Fruit?
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Wellness and Personal Development

Fermented Foods Could Boost Your Microbiome

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Jul 16th 2021

new article illustration

FRIDAY, July 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Fermented foods may seem like just another health fad, but a small trial suggests they can help strike a healthier balance in the body's gut bacteria.

In a study of 36 people, researchers found that those randomly assigned to eat plenty of fermented foods, such as yogurt, kimchi and kombucha, showed an increase in their gut "microbiome" diversity.

The microbiome refers to the vast collection of bacteria and other micro-organisms that naturally dwell in the gut. Research in recent years has been revealing just how important those microbes are to the body's normal processes — from metabolism and nutrient synthesis to immune defenses to brain function.

There is still much to learn about what constitutes a "healthy" microbiome, said senior researcher Justin Sonnenburg.

"But broadly speaking, greater diversity is believed to be healthier," said Sonnenburg, an associate professor at Stanford University, in California.

That's based, in part, on research showing that people with obesity or diseases like diabetes and colitis tend to have less-diverse microbiomes than healthy people.

In addition, Sonnenburg said, scientists have found much greater microbiome diversity among certain indigenous populations who still live pre-industrial lifestyles — and typically do not suffer modern ills like obesity and clogged heart arteries.

The makeup of any one person's microbiome is influenced by many things, including genes, health conditions, stress and medication use (particularly antibiotics). But diet is considered a key player.

And the typical Western diet — heavy in processed foods and low in "whole" plant foods — has "many deficiencies" that could make for a less-diverse microbiome, Sonnenburg said.

So he and his colleagues are studying various ways to change that.

For this latest trial, they randomly assigned 36 people to ramp up their intake of either fermented foods or fiber-rich foods for 10 weeks.

The former group ate plenty of yogurt, fermented cottage cheese, drinks like kombucha and kefir, and fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut. Those in the high-fiber group, meanwhile, focused on beans, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts.

In the end, the fermented-foods group showed an increase in their gut microbiome diversity, based on their stool samples. In contrast, there was no such change in the high-fiber group, the researchers reported July 12 in the journal Cell.

Fermented foods appeared to have an additional benefit, too: a reduction in blood markers of body-wide inflammation. Such chronic, low-level inflammation is believed to contribute to many different diseases.

It's not clear whether the altered microbiome was responsible for dialing down inflammation, however, Sonnenburg said.

"Those things could have happened in parallel," he noted.

It's striking that the microbiome shift happened over just 10 weeks, according to Colleen Tewksbury, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, in Philadelphia.

"It's such a short time frame. To see this kind of change is pretty astounding," said Tewksbury, who is also a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

During fermentation, foods are exposed to bacteria or yeast that convert sugar into alcohol or acids — providing that distinctive tangy taste.

So it's logical to assume the microbes in those foods are simply "entrenching" in the gut's microbiome, Sonnenburg said.

But that's not what the researchers found. Instead, it seemed the fermented foods may have spurred a change in the gut's "resident community" of microbes, the study authors said.

Why didn't high-fiber foods do the same? Sonnenburg said it's possible 10 weeks wasn't long enough.

Again, the Western diet could be the culprit. Past research suggests it can deplete the gut of its "fiber-degrading" microbes, Sonnenburg said.

And in this study, participants' stool samples indicated that a lot of their dietary fiber was not being processed by their gut bacteria.

It's possible that with more time, Sonnenburg said, the microbiome will adapt to increased fiber intake.

No one is suggesting fermented foods are a magic bullet that can simply be added to your burgers and fries. And Tewksbury cautioned that this trial did not look at health outcomes, or test the diet changes for managing any medical condition.

Both she and Sonnenburg emphasized the importance of diets that are high in nutrient-rich plant foods and low in processed foods. Fermented foods can be part of that.

Do check the labels, though, Tewksbury noted. Added sugars can be lurking in some products.

More information

Harvard Medical School has more on fermented foods.

SOURCES: Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, associate professor, microbiology and immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif.; Colleen Tewksbury, PhD, MPH, RDN, senior research investigator, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and national spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Chicago; Cell, July 12, 2021, online