Posted on May 17, 2017, 6 a.m.
Researchers investigating the gut microbiome recommend that just as you should eat fiber every day, you should also follow suit with fermented foods.
Just about everyone loves yogurt. It tastes amazing, has a lovely texture and provides a number of health benefits. Yogurt is one of the many fermented foods that is fantastic for gut health. Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are studying the nuances of the gut microbiome. The hope is that an improved understanding of the gut microbiome will help reduce the prevalence of heart disease, diabetes, and inflammatory disorders.
About Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are considered to be the original version of processed food. Fermentation allows for preservation to keep foods nutritious and tasty. Fermented foods have soared in popularity over the recent years as the general public became more interested in health food. Scientists continue to learn more about the important functions of microorganisms for digestion and overall health.
Aside from yogurt, examples of fermented foods and drinks include wine, beer, cheese, salami, fermented pickles, coffee, bread, and chocolate. These items are altered by helpful bacteria, fungi, and yeasts. These foods are safe to consume for extended periods of time after the alteration. In many instances, fermentation makes the food that much more healthy and flavorful to boot.
About the Research
The research effort is being spearheaded by Robert Hutkins, an accomplished food science researcher. Maria Marco of the University of California is also leading the study. They are working in tandem with an international crew of scientists to determine if eating certain fermented foods like yogurt increases the number of helpful microorganisms.
Prior studies have proved that foods like yogurt, miso, and sauerkraut are tied to a reduced rate of diabetes, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders and other health problems. Hutkins and a dozen other researchers are reviewing this data. He states that the data shows numerous health benefits to consuming fermented foods like yogurt. He recommends that fermented foods should be included in all diets.
Hutkins is affiliated with the Nebraska Food for Health Center. This group was established last year to study how gut microbes ward off disease and boost human health. It's food, animal and plant scientists work closely with medical experts to identify and develop foods that boost the human microbiome as well as the micro-organisms that reside in the gut. These scientists are focused on developing foods that boost the body's immune system and metabolic processes.
Microorganisms within the gut are fed by the foods one consumes. Therefore it should come as no surprise that diet is an important factor that determines the functionality of the gut microbiome. This is an excellent opportunity to marry agriculture and medicine to alter how we think about warding off disease and treating disease. The hope is that improved knowledge of the main properties of fermentation methods will provide insights in terms of health benefits. However, at the current moment, only yogurt has been identified as a provider of specific health benefits. European health authorities made this recognition.
Hutkins and fellow researchers from the Netherlands, Canada, the United States, Ireland and France have encouraging findings following a thorough review of the latest research into fermented foods. The group determined the increased interest in the impact of microbiomes on health justifies additional research along with clinical trials to study the functions of micro-organisms that reach the gastrointestinal tract via beverages and food.
Some of the studies within Hutkins' group show that yogurt consumption is tied to a decreased rates of diabetes. Additional research determined that beneficial relationships exist between yogurt and digestion, blood pressure, osteoporosis, and cholesterol. One particular study determined those who consume yogurt on a daily basis were less irritable.