Fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir, kombucha, natural yogurts and fermented soya bean milk have been shown to promote the abundance of healthy gut bacteria and reduce the levels of enterobacteriaceae, a family of bacteria linked to a number of chronic diseases. Natural yogurt enriched with bifidobacteria has also been found to alleviate lactose intolerance in children and adults, while yogurts enhanced with lactobacilli have had some beneficial results in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Avoid flavored yogurts, which tend to contain high levels of sugar, as previously noted. Here Joanne Washburn, Food.news, reflects on eating fermented foods for better gut health:
“Not a fan of fermented foods? You may be missing out.
In a recent paper published in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists found that food appears to be the major source of lactic acid bacteria, a group of bacteria thought to be beneficial for gut health.
In particular, senior author Danilo Ercolini notes that fermented foods are the principal source of lactic acid bacteria in nature.
Besides supporting digestion, lactic acid bacteria protect our gastrointestinal tract from pathogenic microbes that can cause infection and gastrointestinal disorders, such as constipation, hemorrhoids and colitis.
But prior to this recent research, scientists had been unsure as to how much lactic acid bacteria from these foods actually makes it to the gut to become part of our gut microbiome.
Fermented foods are a good source of lactic acid bacteria for the gut
Lactic acid bacteria are among the most studied microorganisms because of their fundamental role in digestion and other biological processes.
Lactic acid bacteria are also often studied in relation to fermented foods. For starters, the process of fermentation, an age-old practice for storing food for the long haul, has been the subject of much research because of its potential to transform substances into edible foods that possess characteristics different from their unfermented counterparts.
One such characteristic is related to bacterial content. Fermented foods are thought to contain significant amounts of probiotics, a group of helpful microorganisms considered to be beneficial for human health.
Numerous strains of lactic acid bacteria are considered probiotics. The most notable of these probiotics belong to the Lactobacillus genus of bacteria.
Lactic acid bacteria are also of much interest to nutritionists and scientists because of their potential to infuse nutrients into foods, resulting in health benefits.
In an attempt to determine if these lactic acid bacteria do, in fact, become part of our gut microbiome (instead of just passing through), Ercolini and a team of international scientists examined reconstructed genetic information of different lactic acid bacterial strains (genomes) from about 300 foods.
The team also looked at about 10,000 human fecal samples from different continents.
It appeared that Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactococcus lactis are among the most common bacterial strains found in human stool samples. These strains can be found in yogurt and cheese.
The team also compared the DNA sequences of around 3,000 lactic acid bacterial genomes and found that lactic acid bacteria from food are similar to those found in the human gut.
Based on their findings, the team concluded that eating foods rich in lactic acid bacteria, such as fermented foods, can help increase the amount of these probiotics in our intestines for better digestion and gut health.”
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