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Getting in a pickle: fermented foods vs. probiotics

Posted 6 years ago by Jo in General Health News

Fermented foods are experiencing a current rise in popularity and they could well become categorised as the next ‘superfood’. The idea of fermenting foods is certainly not a new one, and in many countries such as Germany, Poland & Japan fermentation is a commonplace practice in every day eating.

Japanese Pickle

A probiotic drink made from pickled turnips could provide key immune support in the fight against flu 

It was published in the mainstream press this week about the health benefits of pickled turnip juice for the immune system.  A probiotic drink, made from traditional Japanse pickle (known as Suguri), has been investigated by scientists for its ability to prevent flu. The journal Letters of Microbiology published research indicating that the type of bacteria in the pickled turnip, Lactobacillus brevis, may prevent strains of the flu virus such as H1N1 and the deadly H7N9. The study resulted in the creation of more flu-fighting antibodies in mice.

Naoko Waki, from the food company Kagome who ran the study, states, “Our results show that when a particular strain of Lactobacillus brevis is eaten by mice, it has protective effects against influenza virus infection”.

Large scale studies are due to be carried out on humans, and scientists hope this may lead to a new range of flu-fighting foods containing the bacteria to come on the market.

The Sunday Times Style magazine last week discussed the benefits of fermented foods, along with their celebrity following, such as kimchi (a spicy Korean sauerkraut), miso (a Japanese drink revered for its longevity benefits) and apple cider vinegar as a key digestive aid.

Miso Soup

Miso Soup is another fermented food with associated health benefits 

So, how do you feel about eating pickled cabbage?! As we suspected, fermented foods such as sauerkraut have a rather shaky reputation, and most people in today’s society would probably baulk at the concept without perhaps realising the nutritional benefits.  Yoghurt itself is a obviously a widely accepted fermented food, and it plays a vital role in the history of probiotics.

It can be helpful to learn a bit about the science of fermentation in order to understand how these foods can benefit our health. The lactic acid produced during the fermentation process helps to digest other foods, such as proteins. The vegetables are left to ferment for a period of days or weeks, and are essentially pre-digested by bacteria and yeast which then helps with our absorption of their nutrients. Fermentation also releases enzymes vital to the digestion process. We know that around 70% of our immune system is based in our gut, which is vital for our all round health.

sauerkraut

Sauerkraut

Are you tempted by sauerkraut? Perhaps a probiotic supplement is an easier way to support gut health 

Here at OptiBac Probiotics we find swallowing a probiotic capsule or taking a sachet daily is certainly less messy and time consuming than the performance of fermenting your own food. We would actively encourage fermenting foods and including them in your diet to help support your digestive health, but in terms of finding a well researched strain of bacteria with a known associated human health benefit, check out our range of probiotics to find the right one(s) for you.  

Reference: N. Waki, N. Yajima, H. Suganuma, B.M. Buddle, D. Luo, A. Heiser, T. Zheng. Oral administration of Lactobacillus brevis KB290 to mice alleviates clinical symptoms following influenza virus infectionLetters in Applied Microbiology, 2013

Image source: dailymail.co.uk

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