A recent research effort has determined fermented foods like yogurt might help prevent the onset of numerous disorders. The research project involved scientists from across the world. Robert Hutkins, a Nebraska food science researcher and Maria Marco, a food science researcher with the University of California spearheaded the effort. Hutkins is a food science and technology professor. He is affiliated with Nebraska’s Food for Health Center, an organization established in 2016 to study how gut microbes ward off disease and enhance health.
Hutkins’ research team determined the spike in interest regarding the human microbiome’s impact on health makes the case for fundamental research as well as clinical trials to study the manner in which microorganisms act upon entering the gastrointestinal tract by way of food and drink. He led a team of more than a dozen science and food industry professionals to perform a comprehensive review of the latest findings. Here is what they found.
A Serving of Yogurt Each Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Hutkins and his team of researchers from the United States, Netherlands, Ireland, Canada and France reported intriguing findings after analyzing research efforts involving a wide variety of fermented foods. This research team determined increased consumption of beneficial microorganisms can provide myriad health benefits. Foods and drinks with such beneficial microorganisms include yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, chocolate, coffee, beer, bread, salami, coconut milk, cucumber pickles, apple cider vinegar, red beets and kimchi. The researchers believe these foods prevent the onset of inflammatory disorders, heart disease and diabetes. These are common health disorders that compromise the health of millions of Americans.
A Brief Look at the Roots of Fermented Food
Hutkins likes to refer to yogurt as the original processed food. Centuries ago, food would eventually spoil and make people sick after they consumed it due to hunger pangs. The other option was to allow food to ferment in order to be preserved. Fermentation also served to maintain the food’s taste.
Fermented foods are certainly some of the oldest preserved foods enjoyed by people yet they have enjoyed a recent uptick in popularity. This popularity boost can be attributed to the rise of specific health trends. The masses have become quite interested in healthy eating, artisanal selections and ethnic foods. Beneficial bacteria, fungi and yeasts modify fermented foods and allow them to be safely consumed for extensive periods of time. In fact, fermented foods often prove more delicious and healthy than they were in their original form.
Specific Health Benefits of Fermented Foods
Hutkins’ group reviewed studies that showed all sorts of benefits following the consumption of yogurt and kimchi. These foods are tied to lower rates of diabetes. Fermented foods also combat obesity, lower the odds of heart disease, improve blood pressure and enhance digestion. Fermented foods even reduce osteoporosis and cholesterol to boot.
This is not the first research effort to tout the merits of yogurt and other fermented foods. Prior studies have tied yogurt, miso, sauerkraut and other fermented foods to lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders and numerous other ailments. It is clear that fermented foods should be a component of a balanced diet.
A Shift in Perception
The food people consume feeds on the microorganisms within fermented foods. Therefore, it is no surprise that food consumption is a major factor that affects the gut microbiome. This is an excellent opportunity to bring the medicine and agriculture industries together to dramatically alter how disease prevention and treatment is approached.
Unfortunately, few people consume fermented foods on a daily basis. Plenty of people make a concerted effort to consume fiber every day as they have been repeatedly taught that fiber keeps the excretory system functioning as designed. A similar educational outreach initiative might be necessary to convince the public of the extensive benefits of fermented foods.
Numerous groups have recommended the national dietary guidelines be modified to include fermented foods. Such an alteration could prove quite beneficial as more people have grown concerned about how food consumption impacts health. The sad truth is there is a severe shortage of detailed information pertaining to the core properties of fermentation methods and their associated health advantages. In fact, yogurt is the sole fermented food to be officially endorsed by European health authorities as providing proven benefits to human health.
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