We are already aware that our diet shapes our gut microbiome, which has a great influence our health. For example, a low variety of foods on the daily basis, leads to a low microbiome diversity that has been linked to overweight, diabetes and dementia. Another example is a western diet that causes high inflammation levels and weakens our immune system leading to various autoimmune diseases. So, what diet can help increase our gut microbiome diversity and lower inflammation?
According to a recent small study, a fermented-food diet is one of them. It diversifies our gut microbes and decreases inflammation in our body better than a high-fiber diet.
In a clinical trial, 36 healthy adults followed either fermented-food or high-fiber diet during the period of 10 weeks. A fermented-food diet included eating yogurt, kefir, fermented cottage cheese, kimchi and other fermented vegetables, vegetable brine drinks, and kombucha tea. On the other hand, a high-fiber diet consisted of legumes, seeds, whole grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits.
At the end of the study, these two diets resulted in different effects on the gut microbiome and the immune system of the participants. A fermented-food diet led to an increase in overall microbial diversity, with stronger effects from larger servings. Moreover, 4 types of immune cells showed less activation and the levels of 19 inflammatory proteins decreased, meaning less on-going inflammation in the body.
On the contrary, none of the 19 inflammatory proteins decreased and the diversity of gut microbes remained stable in the high-fiber diet group. Moreover, the results also showed that greater fiber intake led to more carbohydrates in stool samples. This indicates that gut microbes were not able to break down the fiber (=complex carbohydrates) completely. Based on these findings, the researchers suggest that increased fiber intake alone over a short time period is not enough to increase microbiota diversity. However, they believe that our gut microbiome can adjust itself over a longer period of time to be able to fully utilize an increased fiber consumption.
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