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How fermented foods may alter your microbiome and improve your health

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Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha have long been a staple in many parts of the world. In fact, for thousands of years, various cultures have relied on fermentation to make bread and cheese, preserve meat and vegetables, and improve the taste and texture of many foods.

Now scientists are discovering that fermented foods can have fascinating effects on our intestines. Eating these foods can alter the makeup of the trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that inhabit our intestinal tract, collectively known as the gut microbiome. They can also lead to lower levels of inflammation throughout the body, which scientists are increasingly linking to a range of age-related diseases.

The latest findings come from a study published in the journal Cell, carried out by researchers at Stanford University. They wanted to see what effects fermented foods can have on the gut and immune system, and how they compare to a relatively healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and other high-fiber foods.

They began to harbor a wider and more diverse range of microbes

For the study, the researchers recruited 36 healthy adults and randomly divided them into groups. One group was instructed to increase their consumption of high-fiber plant-based foods, while a second group was instructed to eat plenty of fermented foods, including yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi. These foods are made by combining milk, vegetables and other raw materials with microorganisms like yeast and bacteria. As a result, fermented foods are often teeming with live microorganisms, as well as by-products of the fermentation process, which contain various vitamins, as well as lactic and citric acids.

Participants followed the diets for 10 weeks while the researchers tracked markers of inflammation in their blood and looked for changes in their gut microbiome. By the end of the study, the first group had doubled their fiber intake from about 22 grams per day to 45 grams per day, which is roughly three times the average American intake. The second group consumed almost no fermented foods and ate about six servings a day. While six servings may sound like a lot, it doesn’t take much to get there: 245 g (one cup) of yogurt for breakfast, a 473 ml (16-ounce) bottle of kombucha tea for lunch, and 245 g (one cup) of kimchi for lunch Dinner is six daily servings.

After the 10 week period, neither group had significant changes in general immune health measurements. But the fermented foods group showed a significant reduction in 19 inflammatory compounds. Among the compounds that showed a decrease was interleukin-6, an inflammatory protein that is prone to high levels in diseases such as type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. In contrast, the high fiber group showed no overall decrease in the same inflammatory compounds.

In people in the fermented food group, the decrease in markers of inflammation coincided with changes in their gut. They began to harbor a wider and more diverse range of microbes, in line with other recent studies of people consuming a variety of fermented foods. The new research found that the more fermented foods people ate, the more microbial species bloomed in their bowels. Surprisingly, however, only 5 percent of the new microbes discovered in their bowels appeared to have come directly from the fermented foods they ate.

Jars with kimchi. Devkota says more research was needed to better understand the links between fermented foods and overall health. Photo: Lanna Apisukh / The New York Times

“The vast majority came from elsewhere, and we don’t know where,” says Justin Sonnenburg, author of the new study and professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford. “I think there were either low-level, below-limit-of-detection microbes that bloomed, or the fermented foods did something that allowed other microbes to be quickly recruited into the gut environment.”

Greater diversity in the gut microbiome is generally considered a good thing. Studies have linked it to lower rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic disorders, and other diseases. People who live in developed nations tend to have less microbial diversity in their gut than people who live in more traditional, non-industrialized societies. Some scientists speculate that modern lifestyle factors such as a diet high in processed foods, chronic stress, and physical inactivity can suppress the growth of potentially beneficial gut microbes. Others argue that the correlation between diverse microbiomes and good health is exaggerated and that the low level of microbiome diversity typically observed in people in developed countries could be appropriately adapted to a modern world.

One topic of which there is little disagreement among nutritionists is the benefits of a high-fiber diet. In large studies, people who eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other high-fiber foods tend to have lower death rates and fewer chronic illnesses. Fiber is considered good for gut health: microbes in the gut feed on fiber and use it to produce useful by-products like short chain fatty acids that can reduce inflammation. Some studies also suggest that consuming lots of fiber promotes a diverse microbiome.

One question the researchers want to answer in the future is what would happen if people consumed more fermented foods and more fiber at the same time

The Stanford researchers expected that a high-fiber diet would have a huge impact on the composition of the microbiome. Instead, the high-fiber group tended to show few changes in their microbial diversity. But when the scientists took a closer look, they discovered something conspicuous. People who started with higher microbial diversity showed a decrease in inflammation with the high fiber diet, while those with the lowest microbial diversity had a slight increase in inflammation when they consumed more fiber.

The researchers say they suspect that people with low microbiome diversity may have lacked the right microbes to digest all of the fiber they consumed. One finding that supports this: the high-fiber group had unexpectedly large amounts of carbohydrates in their stool that were not broken down by their gut microbes. One possibility is that her bowels took more time to adjust to the high-fiber diet. But ultimately, this finding could explain why some people experience gas and other uncomfortable gastrointestinal problems when they eat a lot of fiber, said Christopher Gardner, another author on the study.

“Perhaps the challenge some people have with fiber is that their microbiome isn’t prepared for it,” says Gardner, the director of nutritional studies at Stanford Prevention Research Center.

One question the researchers want to answer in the future is what would happen if people consumed more fermented foods and more fiber at the same time. Would that increase the variety of microbes in your gut and improve your ability to digest more fiber? Would the two have a synergistic effect on inflammation?

Suzanne Devkota, director of microbiome research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who wasn’t involved in the new study, said fermented foods had long been believed to have health benefits, but the new research was some of the first provides “hard evidence” that it can affect the gut and inflammation. “We have always been a little reluctant to comment on whether fermented foods are beneficial, especially from an inflammatory point of view, because there really was no data behind it,” she says.

Devkota cautioned that the results shouldn’t discourage anyone from eating high-fiber foods because fiber has so many health benefits beyond its effects on the gut. She consumes a lot of fiber and fermented foods herself, and often recommends that patients in Cedars-Sinai with conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease do the same. “That doesn’t change my recommendation,” she says. “But I would probably go a little more encouraging people to eat fermented foods because I now have data to suggest that there are some anti-inflammatory properties.”

Devkota says more research was needed to better understand the links between fermented foods and overall health. However, she suggests that fermented foods can be beneficial, among other things, because the microorganisms they contain are constantly producing a lot of nutrients during the fermentation process. “A glass of sauerkraut is a living food with substances that are actively produced, such as vitamins,” she said. “When you eat a fermented food, you are consuming all of these microbially made chemicals that are good for you.” – New York Times

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MOV Parent: Time for the lunch bell | News, Sports, Jobs

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The summer months are coming to an end and school is getting closer and closer. When you go back to school it can be difficult to start or continue a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to choose unhealthy lunch and snack ideas. However, I want to share with you the importance of packing a healthy lunch and preparing a healthy snack when your kids go back to school.

1. Eating a healthy diet can improve your health today and for years to come. Think about how your food choices will be made up throughout the day or week to help you create a healthy eating routine.

2. It is important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, as well as dairy and fortified soy alternatives. Choose options for meals, drinks, and snacks with limited added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.

Some of the negative effects that unhealthy school lunches have on children are mental and physical problems. Eating the wrong diet can lead to obesity or other weight problems. A child with poor diet is more likely to develop diabetes, kidney stones, and heart disease. Without proper nutrition, a child’s academic performance will decline. Sleep behavior is also affected when children do not eat enough nutritious foods. These children may also exhibit more aggressive behavior and lower attention spans.

When I was in school I packed my own lunch. Most of the time I just tossed everything I could find into a bag and called it lunch. I would wrap anything from cookies to leftover pizza. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I understood why I should choose healthier options. I decided to work on a healthier lifestyle and now cucumber and melon are my favorite food when I wrap lunch.

Becoming more aware of what to give your child for lunch, what your child is packing for lunch, and what groceries you bring around the house can help them feel better, be better, and be healthier.

As a parent, you can help your child choose healthier options by:

1. Regular family meals

2. Serving a wide variety of healthy foods and snacks

3. Be a role model by eating healthily yourself

4. Avoid fighting over food

5. Include children in the process

Figuring out the best lunch options for your child can be difficult. You could try some of these options:

* Turkey + cheddar roll-up, fresh berries, yogurt and trail mix

* Cheese quesadilla, guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips and strawberries

* Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, graham crackers, cheese spread and a peach cup

* Turkey slices, cheese cubes, pita wedges, hummus, baby carrots and celery

To make lunch more attractive to your child, try different foods. Some ideas include:

* Make potato salad or pasta salad multi-colored. Use fun noodles or add hard boiled eggs, beans, peas or small cubes of meat for extra protein.

* Cut raw vegetables like carrots, celery, green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumbers. Send them with a small container of low-fat dip.

* Add a piece of fruit for dessert, washed and ready to eat, or a packet of fruit salad.

* Try reduced-fat cheese cubes or cheese spreads with whole grain crackers.

* Few children can resist yogurt, a good source of protein and calcium that is now available in many different flavors and shapes.

* Choose healthy snacks. Pack pretzels, popcorn, rice cakes, whole grain crackers, dried flakes, or trail mix.

After a long day at school, your children will be hungry. Having healthy snacks for your children after school is important. You can have a snack ready and waiting for them or allow them to choose from the healthy options you have around the house.

The American Heart Association has a list of healthy snack options divided into categories based on cravings. Some of these snacks are:

* Apples and pears

* Bell pepper slices

* Popcorn

* Nuts and seeds

* Carrots and celery sticks

Make sure you find the right ones that suit your family’s needs.

While I was in grades 3-12, I got involved in post-school sports. It was important to have a healthy snack before training and games. The snacks I always chose were apples and peanut butter or bananas and peanut butter.

I also enjoyed applesauce. My parents bought the sugar-free version and I added cinnamon. These were simple and healthy snacks that I could grab on my own.

“There is nothing unhealthy about educating young people about nutrition.” – Pierre Dukan

***

Megan Zwick is a program assistant in Family and Consumer Sciences at Ohio State University Extension, Washington County. She can be reached at zwick.54@osu.edu.

***

resources

* Stadler, M. (2018, August). Back to School Kids Lunch Ideas. (2018, August 14).

* Hopkins, A. (2019 August 15). 15 Healthy After School Snacks Your Kids Will Actually Eat

* What is MyPlate?

* Dukan, P. (n.d.). Healthy eating quote. 34 Best Quotes About Healthy Eating For You And Your Children.

* Schuna, C. (no year). The Effects of Children Eating Unhealthy School Lunches. LIVESTRONG.COM.

* Ben-Joseph, EP (Ed.). (2018, June). Healthy nutrition (for parents) – nemours kidshealth. Children’s health.

* School lunches. Harvard Health. (2015, July 16).

* Healthy snacking. www.herz.org. (nd).

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7 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health

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When your stomach is fine, you never think about it – but when you don’t, it’s hard to think about anything else. The group of microorganisms that live in and make up your gastrointestinal tract play a role in almost every aspect of your health, from preventing chronic disease to maintaining your immune system. So it’s no wonder that you feel lousy when things get out of hand.

But what exactly is your gut feeling? And is it possible to improve your gut health? Here is everything you need to know.

What is the intestine?

The human intestine is much more complex than even experts once realized – it comprises a multitude of internal organs that are involved in the digestive process to absorb nutrients from food and excrete waste, explains Rushabh Modi, MD, a certified physician in both internal medicine and Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. “Typically, this refers to the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon, with the pancreas and liver being crucial as supporting organs that help make digestive enzymes,” he says.

How your gut keeps your body healthy

In addition to absorbing and transporting nutrients to all tissues in the body, the intestine is critical to maintaining fluid and salt levels and eliminating waste, explains Dr. Modes. “Many vital nutrients and vitamins such as B12 and iron have special transporters that only exist in the intestine,” he adds. Iron, for example, needs stomach acid to be absorbed effectively – and B12 also needs certain receptors in the stomach and middle intestines to be absorbed. “These nutrients are difficult to obtain in any other way and they are essential for normal physiological function,” adds Dr. Modes added.

The gut is also one of the body’s most important disease control systems. “The acid in the stomach kills the bacteria and viruses that can inadvertently be ingested through food, and the digestive tract is an important way of introducing antigens to boost immune function and protection in the body,” says Christine Lee, MD . Gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “The digestive tract also digests the foods ingested and extracts the essential nutrients that the body can absorb for vital use.”

New research has even uncovered a link between poor gut health and several neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, and depression. One such study from the Université de Genève found that people with Alzheimer’s have different types of bacteria in their gut than those who do not have the disease.

8 signs your gut is suffering

If your gut is unhealthy, you are likely to have one or more of the following symptoms, even if it’s mild or rare:

  1. gas
  2. Flatulence
  3. Acid reflux
  4. heartburn
  5. diarrhea
  6. constipation
  7. Changes in stool
  8. Inexplicable weight loss
    1. “Since food digestion and waste production are the two most important functions of the intestine, if there are problems in these areas, the intestine can often be the cause of the problem,” explains Dr. Modes. Acid reflux and heartburn have also been linked to the gut, although you may feel the pain further from the core of the problem. Flatulence is also becoming more common, so Dr. Modi notes that patients view them as almost a normal reaction to eating certain foods.

      If you experience unexplained weight loss despite eating regular meals, it may indicate that your body is unable to digest or absorb the nutrients in the foods you eat and that there is a problem in your digestive system, according to Dr. Lee.

      How to improve your gut health

      The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to support your gut health. Here are some of the strategies doctors recommend.

      Eat a wide variety of healthy foods

      A diet made up of several different food types can result in a more diverse microbiome made up of more types, according to a report published in the journal Molecular Metabolism. This, explains Dr. Lee, strengthens our microbiome and increases its resilience.

      The best foods for gut health are fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, especially those with the highest fiber content that help your digestive tract function properly. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day and men 38 grams per day.

      And cut down on unhealthy foods. “The more fat, fat, and salt you eat, the worse your gut health gets,” said Scott David Lippe, MD, chief of gastroenterology at Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus, NJ and assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Medical School. This is especially important to keep in mind at dinner, as restaurants tend to consume salt, fat, and fat because they taste good.

      Try to leave out dairy products

      If you experience gas, gas, or loose bowel movements after drinking milk or eating cheese, you may be lactose intolerant. “This affects many adults, especially those who have no Northern European ancestry,” says Dr. Lip. “A quick and easy test is to drink a glass of regular milk – if you feel unwell, you are lactose intolerant.” If you are not ready to give up dairy products, you can also try taking lactose tablets before consuming dairy foods take.

      Consider a probiotic

      These tiny little microorganisms aid your metabolism and help rebalance your microbiota, says Douglas A. Drossman, MD, gastroenterologist and Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Psychiatry, UNC Division of Gastroenterology at the UNC School of Medicine. He recommends taking them when you have symptoms of an unhealthy bowel; however, there can be no other benefit. In fact, there isn’t a lot of research to prove the benefits of probiotics for the gut.

      For example, a review published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology found that probiotics positively affect the gut microbiota of people with certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes, but do little to improve the gut microbiota of healthy people. “If you are taking antibiotics or have diarrhea, taking probiotics can be very helpful,” adds Dr. Lip. However, he recommends trying to get your fair share of probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi first.

      Include more prebiotics in your diet

      “Prebiotics are not bacteria, they are foods that good bacteria like to eat,” explains Dr. Milstein. “We have to feed the good bacteria and starve the bad bacteria.” He recommends eating foods rich in bacteria such as walnuts, berries, bananas, flax seeds, legumes, artichokes, onions, garlic, chicory, dandelion greens, asparagus, leeks and whole grain products. “The diet is personalized, but putting some fruits and vegetables and fiber on our plate with every meal helps keep gut and brain health,” adds Dr. Milstein added.

      Monitor your vitamin D levels

      Recent research in Nature Communications has examined the relationship between gut bacteria and vitamin D levels and found that deficiency in the nutrient plays a key role in increasing the risk of certain diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer, plays. Any form of disruption of the GI barrier, according to Dr. Drossman commonly referred to as “leaky gut,” which can increase a person’s risk of developing infectious, inflammatory, and functional GI diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. “Most people with leaky gut have very low levels of vitamin D and very low levels of the two most important omega-3 fatty acids – EPA and DHA,” he says. He recommends that most people consume at least 5,000 IU (125 µg) of vitamin D3 daily and consume sufficient fish oil (or the vegan equivalent) of 1,000 mg DHA per day. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.

      Manage your stress level

      Stress not only puts a strain on your mental health, but also on your physical well-being. Chronic high stress can, according to Dr. Drossman directly affect your gut health. While removing stressors from your life isn’t always possible, stress management strategies like diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, or yoga can help, says Dr. Drossman. “It’s also a smart idea to see a psychologist to see if brain and gut therapies (cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, mindfulness) can be used,” he adds.

      Get a good night’s sleep every night

      When you don’t get enough sleep, your whole body is affected, including your intestines. In fact, new research shows how closely your gut microbiome and the quality of your sleep really are. A study by Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida found that poor sleep, for reasons as yet unknown, can negatively affect your gut microbiome, which can then manifest itself in a variety of other health problems, including autoimmune diseases and mental illnesses. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.


      Jenn Sinrich is a veteran writer, digital and social editor, and content strategist specializing in health, fitness, beauty, and relationships.

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    YOUR HEALTH: When heart health is a matter of race

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    PITTSBURGH – Up to 1 in 500 American adults have cardiomyopathy.

    Their hearts have enlarged, thickened, or stiffened, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood around the body.

    Now, new research examines racial differences in the outcomes of these heart patients.

    “If we don’t give patients good medicines and the like over time, they will develop into what is known as clinical heart failure, where they develop symptoms of shortness of breath and leg swelling,” said Dr. Shazli Khan. Internal Medicine Physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

    People with cardiomyopathy may not have any symptoms at all, or their symptoms may be very mild to begin with.

    Dr. Khan examines racial differences in cardiomyopathy outcomes.

    She and her colleagues looked at data from 18,000 patients over a period of six years.

    “What we actually found was that black patients in our cohort had a much higher prevalence of many chronic diseases,” said Dr. Khan.

    “So more chronic kidney disease, higher blood pressure, higher diabetes rates.”

    If black patients are on optimized heart failure therapy and continue to have symptoms, they can get additional benefit from taking hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate, known under the brand name BiDil.

    Previous research suggested that black patients had a much higher prevalence of chronic illnesses, including chronic kidney disease, higher blood pressure, and higher rates of diabetes.

    “In fact, they died more than the white cardiomyopathy patients,” said Dr. Khan.

    Researchers found that black patients diagnosed with cardiomyopathy were 15% more likely to die than white patients.

    Dr. Khan says the study results suggest that providers should emphasize earlier interventions.

    “That they come in to fill their medication, make appointments, give them resources, and educate them about the long-term effects of certain medical conditions.”

    Patients are advised to focus on eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like chicken or fish.

    Also, focus on maintaining a healthy weight by balancing caloric intake with physical activity to reduce the risk of heart disease.

    Doctors will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your personal and family medical history.

    You will also be asked when your symptoms are occurring, such as whether exercise is causing your symptoms.

    If your doctor thinks you have cardiomyopathy, several tests may be done to help confirm the diagnosis, including an X-ray test to see if your heart is enlarged.

    Several blood tests may be done, including those to check your kidney, thyroid, and liver function, and to measure your iron levels, and a treadmill test to see your heart rhythm, blood pressure, and breathing while you run on a treadmill.

    Your doctor may recommend this test to evaluate symptoms, determine your physical fitness, and see if exercise is causing an abnormal heart rhythm.

    If this story affects your life or has caused you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

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