Ever wondered how you could use food to reduce inflammation? Well, this article walks you through the how's and why’s behind using fermented foods to combat chronic inflammation!
A research study published in 2020 offers a comprehensive overview of the relationship between our gut microbiota and the regulation and expression of inflammation in our bodies. (1) The gut microbiota refers to the rich community of bacteria that exist in the human gastrointestinal tract or G.I. tract. Its health can be characterized by its diversity and population count. All of the various strains of bacteria live synergistically with their human host by carrying out functions that influence many aspects of the host’s health, including energy balance, mental health, skin health, immune function, etc. (1)
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is one crucial component of the body’s healing network. It specifically describes the process where white blood cells are sent to a site of injury or infection to contain the damage and promote blood flow and nutrient delivery to commence and carry out healing. Once the inflammation has done its job, anti-inflammatory processes can come in to complete the healing cycle.
While this is an absolutely amazing feature of the body that has helped humans survive and recover from life-threatening events, there are factors in our diets and lifestyles or even genetics that cause an excess of inflammation. The imbalance of inflammation to anti-inflammation, often described as chronic inflammation, contributes to diseases, including Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases, Autoimmune Conditions, etc. (3)
When the body experiences chronic inflammation, which can result from many reasons, such as exposure to low level irritants or repeated episodes of acute inflammation, it can disrupt the cycles and functions in the rest of the body. For example, the symptoms typically associated with acute inflammation can be prolonged, so one can experience extended pain and swell to the site of inflammation. Additionally, a build-up of chronic inflammation can lead to impaired arterial flow from plaque formation, as well as severe joint pain, and much more.
Effects of gut bacteria on inflammation management
There are bacteria associated with inflammatory molecules, and their presence can have downstream effects on the expression of inflammatory agents in the body. In some instances, structural components of the bacteria can lead to inflammatory pathways, whereas other bacteria can produce anti-inflammatory by-products. (1) Lipopolysaccharides or endotoxins are an example of a compound found in the cell walls of some gut bacteria that can activate pro-inflammatory pathways not just in the gut but all over the body. (1) And on the other hand, there are bacteria that metabolize fibers into Short Chain Fatty Acids, which have been found to have an inhibitory effect on inflammation, and can potentially help reduce overall inflammatory load in the body. (1)
The environment in which gut bacteria reside changes based on diet and that is a selection ground that decides which strains of bacteria get to proliferate and which do not. The hyper-processed foods that have become a hallmark of the Western diet favor the growth of bacteria that promote inflammatory diseases. (4) In particular, the additives commonly found in the Western diet are associated with changes in the microbiota composition and their potential to increase inflammation. (4)
How fermented foods enhance gut health and manage inflammation
We are learning more and more through research that fermented foods, specifically the kind that is high in live bacteria, have a profound beneficial effect on managing gut health and promoting healthy, balanced expression of inflammation.
This is due to several reasons, including the following four:
These are live bacteria that help to boost and fortify the gut flora with beneficial strains.
Nutrients that feed beneficial bacteria in the gut. Fiber is an example of a nutrient that feeds certain bacteria in the gut and then it is converted to Short Chain Fatty Acids that promote anti-inflammation.
A type of antioxidant nutrient that protects the body from oxidative stress and exerts anti-inflammatory properties (5)
4. Postbiotics (short-chain fatty acids)
As mentioned above, short-chain fatty acids have been found to feed anti-inflammatory pathways and they are usually produced by liver bacteria, so they are considered a “postbiotic”.
Consuming these nutrients regularly can help to change the gut microbiota to regulate inflammation in a health-promoting way.
R’s KOSO is a traditional Japanese beverage that contains prebiotics, probiotics, postbiotics, and polyphenols to offer a full spectrum gut health support system. It is made by fermenting over 100 + plant foods that result in such a robust profile of gut-healthy nutrients.
Keren Chen | CBT Nutritionist
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