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Fermented Products Guide: Why You Should Drink Kefir and Eat Sauerkraut

'08.10.2022'

Source: Update

Fermented 8 products for thousands of years. Now the idea that intestinal bacteria affect human health is not revolutionary. Many people know that microbes affect digestion, allergies and metabolism.

Photo: iStock

The trend has become almost trivial: in the books there is information about what kind of diet will lead to optimal health of bacteria, writes Update. But information about the effect of microflora on psychological health and mood is just beginning to appear.

We analyze how bacteria behave in our body and what simple, but very useful fermentation products should be eaten.

Bacteria improve the taste of food

There are many ways to preserve and ferment products, and they all contain a specific component that is important to the preservation and fermentation process.

The most common method is the bacterial strain Lactobacillius (lactobacilli). During fermentation, these bacteria fight off dangerous strains, such as E. coli, that poison food.

Lactobacilli convert salt and sugar into a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. The production of lactic acid makes the food sour, spicy, gives the taste of canned vegetables - pickled cucumbers and sauerkraut.

Probiotics vs. Yeast: What's the Difference?

Fermentation products perfectly enrich the intestinal microflora with healthy bacteria that promote absorption and digestion.

But these bacteria die when they are heat treated. For example, in bread, yeast is deactivated by baking. But when you eat yoghurts, cheeses, unrefined kimchi and sauerkraut, there are still living, healthy bacteria in them.

These products are probiotics because they contain live microorganisms.

Varied nutrition - healthy intestines

There are ten times more bacteria in your body than the cells that make it up - about 100 trillion, according to scientists. Millions are in the intestines - help to digest food and absorb nutrients from food, break up large particles of food into usable forms.

In a symbiotic relationship with bacteria, both sides benefit: you get the vitamins and nutrients you need to survive, and in return, bacteria have food and a place to live.

The population of bacteria is called microflora, and research has shown that the composition of this population plays an important role in how well you extract, store and use energy from the foods you eat.

Natural treatment

A variety of intestinal bacteria helps develop your immune system. From birth, the immune system develops, relying on intestinal bacteria to balance the reactions to harmful pathogens, while still allowing harmless bacteria that are inside you.

Scientists are still studying what the microflora of a healthy intestine looks like, but, as the data show, the presence of more diverse microflora leads to an improvement in overall health.

The unhealthy variety of intestinal bacteria is associated with many diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune diseases and bowel leakage, which causes inflammation.

When you have intestinal inflammation and other problems with it, the immune system is busy solving this problem, not an effective response to pathogens.

How microflora affects mood

Bacteria in the intestines affect the brain and determine mood.

Scientists are investigating how microflora regulates people's feelings and thoughts, and found evidence that about a thousand different types of bacteria, trillions of cells with a total weight from 0,5 to 1,5 kg can play a crucial role in the development of autism, anxiety, depression and other disorders.

The most intriguing work on the relationship between microflora and the brain was made in the field of autism research. For decades, doctors, parents, and researchers have noted that around 3 / 4, people with autism also have abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract: digestive problems, food allergies, or gluten intolerance. Several recent studies have shown that the microflora of autistic people differs significantly from control groups.

Intestinal bacteria can affect anxiety and depression. Stephen Collins, a gastroenterology researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found that Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains reduce anxiety behavior in mice. In one study, he and his colleague collected bacteria from the intestines of mice prone to disturbing behavior and transplanted them to mice prone to calm. Result: calm animals became agitated.

John Crian, a neurologist at University College Cork in Ireland, studied the effects of lactobacteria and bifidobacteria on depression in animals. He gave the mice either bifidobacteria or Lexapro antidepressant. Then he subjected them to a series of stressful situations, including a test that measured how long they would swim in a closed tank of water (they were pulled out shortly before they began to sink). Both bacteria and the drug increased resistance and reduced levels of stress hormones.

Another experiment, this time using lactobacilli, had similar results. Crian began research with people (using other methods).

Until now, for most studies microflora used mice. But there are already several works involving people. For example, Collins transferred bacteria from the intestines of anxious people to grown mice that did not have any bacteria in their intestines at all. After transplantation, these animals behaved anxiously.

In other studies all people were studied, and not just people with disorders. The neuroscientist of psychopharmacology at Oxford University, Phil Burnet, in 2015, raised the question of whether prebiotics can provide viability in stressful conditions caused by intestinal bacteria.

Previous studies in mice by the same scientists have shown that this carbohydrate has contributed to the growth of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. In mice with a large number of these microbes, levels of several neurotransmitters have also been increased, which affect anxiety, including the so-called brain neurotrophic factor.

In this experiment, subjects who ingested galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) showed lower levels of the main stress hormone, cortisol. In the test with a number of fast-flashing words on the screen, the GOS group also focused more on positive information and less on negative information.

This test is often used to measure levels of anxiety and depression, as in these conditions, anxious and depressed patients often focus on threatening or negative factors. Burnet and his colleagues note that the results are similar to those of antidepressants or anxiety medications.

Perhaps the most famous study was conducted by Emeran Meier, a gastroenterologist at the University of California at Los Angeles. He scored 25 healthy women. For four weeks, 12 of them ate a cup of inexpensive yogurt twice a day, and the rest did not. Yogurt is a probiotic, that is, it contains live bacteria, in this case - four types of strains: bifidobacteria, streptococcus, lactococcus and lactobacilli.

Before and after the study, subjects underwent brain scans to evaluate their response to different facial expressions - happiness, sadness, anger, etc.

The results showed significant differences: yoghurt calmer responded to images than the control group. Mayer believes that the bacteria in yogurt changed the composition of microbes in the intestines of the subjects, which led to a modification of brain chemistry.

Intestinal bacteria produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA. They all play a key role in the mood. By the way, many antidepressants increase the levels of the same compounds. Some microorganisms affect how people absorb these compounds by effectively regulating the amount that circulates in the blood and brain.

Intestinal bacteria can also generate other neuroactive chemicals, including butyrate, which is associated with a decrease in anxiety and depression. Crian and others have also shown that some microbes can activate the vagus nerve - the main link between the intestine and the brain. In addition, the microflora is intertwined with the immune system, which also affects mood and behavior.

This relationship seems to be valid from an evolutionary point of view. After all, bacteria have lived in humans for millions of years. Crian suggests that over time, at least a few microbes have developed ways to shape host behavior for their own purposes. Mood change is a likely survival strategy for microorganisms. He argues that “Happy people tend to be more social. And the more social we are, the more chances that microbes will exchange and spread. ”

The more scientists learn about how the microflora and intestinal network works, the more realistic it is to crack it for the treatment of mental disorders, says Crian.

These bacteria can end up being used as “Prozac” or “Diazepam”. And since microbes have years of experience modifying our brains, they are likely to be more accurate and finer than modern pharmacology. This means fewer side effects. I think microbes will really affect how we treat our disorders, ”he says.

Intestinal bacteria generate neurotransmitters that affect our well-being. How we metabolize serotonin, dopamine and GABA depends on the presence of bacteria in the intestine. They regulate the amount of neurotransmitters that circulate in our blood and brain.

A healthy mind and body are made up of a huge variety of bacteria that live in the intestines. The desire to feel good is another reason to include fermented foods in the diet.

5 incredibly healthy products

1. Kombucha (Kombucha)

One of the easiest ways to diversify your diet, because the combuta is available and it is delivered with different tastes.

Kombucha - non-alcoholic fermented slightly sweetened tea drink. He appeared in China around 220 BC.

It has become fashionable due to the content of vitamins, amino acids and other nutrients that are good for health. Although the media exaggerates the benefits, it is a great way to introduce good bacteria to aid digestion.

2. Miso

Japanese miso is a fermented pasta made from a combination of soybeans and salt with other ingredients, such as rice or barley.

Miso comes in different colors, depending on how long the paste has been allowed to roam. It tastes very salty and spicy, but the flavor is excellent. Miso is usually cooked as a soup, but it can be used for sauces and marinades.

It is sold in plastic or plastic packaging. Properly chilled miso stored up to a year.

3. Kimchi

Homeland Kimchi - Korea. These are pickled vegetables that are eaten with every meal.

The most famous is spicy kimchi, but in general there are more than 100 varieties, and not all of them are spicy.

Kimchi ferments in a spice mix: chili powder, garlic, ginger, leeks, and chotkal salted seafood. Kimchi has a lot of fiber, antioxidants, amino acids and vitamins.

4. Sauerkraut

Another version of fermented cabbage is made by lactic acid producing bacteria. She gets her special sour taste from bacteria that ferment sugar in cabbage.

Although we associate sauerkraut with Eastern European and German origins, the Chinese used it 2 thousands of years ago and probably brought it to Europe a thousand years later.

It is an excellent source of vitamin B and vitamin C, contains many enzymes that will help decompose food during digestion.

5. Kefir

Kefir - fermented milk drink from cow, goat, sheep or even rice and soy milk. Ferments through the introduction of starter yeast and bacteria. It originated in the Caucasus Mountains.

Kefir is a super version of yogurt, because it is full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and probiotics, in it 30 strains of bacteria. This is a powerful probiotic source of microorganisms - steeper than yogurt.

Drinking kefir will help restore beneficial intestinal bacteria to balance the digestive tract.

Another source of bacteria is the liquid from the previous fermentation: serum for yogurt, the body of kombucha or pickle from pickled vegetables.

If you want something to ferment right in your kitchen, look for healthy strains of powdered bacteria. Health food stores or online stores sell useful starter kits to help you begin the fermentation process.

When it comes to overall health and general well-being, do not forget about the importance of a healthy bowel.

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