If not addressed early, chronic infection can be a large number long-term health problems, including cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Healthy choices such as dark leafy green vegetables (think kale and spinach), fatty fish (salmon and mackerel), and olive oil are some of the foods help fight inflammation.
Now research suggests that there is another type of food that may have an even greater impact on preventing chronic inflammation. A new study published in the magazine Cell believes that a diet rich in fermented food (think miso and sauerkraut) improves the diversity of gut microbes, thus reducing molecular signs of inflammation.
The study involved a clinical trial consisting of 36 healthy adults who were randomly assigned to a 10-week diet that contained either foods that were fermented or high in fiber. The researchers found that the two diets had different effects on the gut microbiome and the immune system.
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“Previous work in the field has reported the effects of diet on the human microbiome, and some have reported measurements of host health,” said lead study author Hannah Wastyk, a doctoral candidate in bioengineering at Stanford University. Eat this, not that!. “However, our study is the first, to our knowledge, to report comprehensive immune profiling over time to examine in depth the axis of the diet-microbiome-immune system.”
As Wastyk points out, these two particular diets were chosen for the study because both have been shown to positively impact the gut microbiome. However, the findings of this study show that when we eat fermented foods, they introduce their own microbial community into our gut microbiome. This, in part, increases the diversity of the healthy bacteria in the gut that our bodies need to fight off the chronic inflammation that can make us more susceptible to infections and chronic disease.
That’s not to say, however, that those who ate a high-fiber diet didn’t experience gut-related health benefits.
“While we did not see an increase in diversity as expected, we did see an increase in the microbial capacity to metabolize plants. The more fiber people ate, the better their microbiome was able to digest it,” said Wastyk. “These results were promising and suggest that if the study had been extended for a longer period of time, we might have seen a more substantial microbial and immune response. . response in the high-fiber diet group.”
The subjects who entered the study with a more diverse gut microbiome and ate a high-fiber diet had improved immune status at the end of the 10-week period.
“Since the highly fermented food diet had such a striking response to reproducibly increase microbiome diversity, one can imagine that a hybrid diet, rich in [both] fermented foods and rich in fiber, the effects seen here may synergize for an even greater impact on improving immune status,” Wastyk says.
As Vincent M. Pedre, MD, medical director of Pedre Integrative Health and author of “Happy Gutpoints out that many people in the US (and other Western societies) have low gut microbiome diversity as a result of dietary choices, lifestyle habits, and even medication.
“Usually, the diversity of the gut microbiome is low due to exposure to antibiotics, the standard American diet, alcohol, and even stress,” he says.
The findings of this study offer hope, as they suggest that increasing your intake of fermented foods may help reduce inflammation caused by all of these factors. Pedre offers a few examples of fermented foods that you can add to your diet today. They contain:
Fermented cottage cheese
Pedre also notes a few limitations of the study. A) It was a small, randomized prospective study with only 18 people in each group, and B) the groups consisted mainly of white women.
“Due to the homogeneity of the participants, it would be great to replicate this study with a more diverse study population to see if these effects can be extrapolated to both men and women, as well as different ethnicities,” he says.
For more, be sure to take a look The secret to avoiding obesity may lie in your gut, says new study.