What are the health benefits of fermented foods? There has been a lot of speculation that eating fermented foods helps diversify the gut microbiome, which is thought to promote health and minimize inflammation.

The research, which appears in the journal Cell, lays the groundwork for further research to explore in more depth how different dietary interventions can positively affect a person’s gut microbiome.

Gut microbiome

The human microbiome describes the various bacteria and other microorganisms that exist in and on the human body. A person’s gut microbiome is a particularly diverse location of these microbes relative to other parts of the body.

During the last 10 years, there has been a significant increase in the amount of research that scientists have conducted on the gut microbiome and its links to human health.

Researchers have shown that the gut microbiome plays an important role in health. The makeup of the microbiome can affect the development of many noncommunicable chronic diseases, such as gastrointestinal disorders, metabolic diseases, and some types of cancer.

Study on Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

In this preliminary study, the researchers looked at two dietary interventions: a fermented foods diet and a high fiber diet. Their goal was to learn about the health benefits of fermented foods with respect to the gut microbiome.

• The researcher chose to compare the health benefits of fermented food and fiber in promoting positive changes in a person’s gut microbiome.

• The study involved 36 participants, of whom 73% were women, and 81% were white. They were all generally healthy.

• The researchers collected blood and stool samples from the participants for 3 weeks to act as a baseline.

• They then randomly assigned the participants to one of two diets. The first diet was high in fermented foods, such as yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha, whereas the second was high in fiber.

• The participants slowly increased their intake of fermented foods or fiber, depending on their group, for 4 weeks. After that, they followed the full high fiber or high fermented food diet for 6 more weeks.

• The fermented foods group increased their intake from an average of 0.4 servings to 6 portions each day. The high fiber group increased their intake from 21.5 grams (g) to 45.1 g each day.

• Finally, the participants had 4 weeks during which they could continue the diet if they chose to. Throughout each stage of the study, the researchers continued to collect blood and stool samples.

• The stool samples enabled them to identify any changes to the gut microbiome of the participants, while the blood samples revealed any fluctuations in key biological markers of inflammation and general health.

Results of Study on the Health Benefits of Fermented Food

• After analyzing the data, the researchers found that the diversity of the gut microbiomes of the participants who were on the fermented food diet markedly increased.

• The researchers also found that for the people who were on the fermented food diet, 19 inflammatory proteins decreased, and four types of immune cell had less activation.
• In contrast, the participants on the fiber diet saw no changes to the diversity of their gut microbiome and no decrease in the 19 inflammatory proteins.

• The researchers noticed that participants on the high fiber diet had more carbohydrates in their stool samples. This suggests that the participants did not have the right gut microbes to break down the fiber fully.

Researchers Analysis

• According to Dr. Justin Sonnenburg, Ph.D., an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, CA, and study author: “This is a stunning finding. 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.”

• Another Prof. Christopher Gardner, Ph.D., who is Rehnborg Farquhar Professor and director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, says, “Microbiota-targeted diets can change immune status, providing a promising avenue for decreasing inflammation in healthy adults.”


Click here to read full article about the health benefits of fermented foods.