Millions of Americans suffer from chronic inflammation, and finding relief from it can be difficult. However, given that inflammation is a cause of so many medical conditions, including arthritis, asthma, and heart disease, it’s worth finding lifestyle changes that may ease symptoms. According to one study, a helpful addition could be incorporating more fermented foods into your diet.
The new research from scientists at Stanford School of Medicine looked at how two common interventions, the high-fiber diet and the fermented foods diet, impacted the body’s microbiome and its inflammatory response. The microbiome is the name of the group of millions of fungi, bacteria, and viruses that live in your body, mostly your digestive system, to support all of your organ functions. When your microbiome isn’t properly calibrated, that’s when you may notice issues like inflammation, in addition to other symptoms like stomach aches or irritable bowels. Meanwhile, inflammation is when the immune system mistakes normal bodily responses for dangerous invaders and begins attacking itself.
Based on this knowledge, the team of scientists devised a 10-week trial where 36 healthy adults ate diets that were either full of high-fiber foods or fermented foods, like yogurt, kimchi, vegetable brine drinks, cottage cheese, kefir, and kombucha. While participants who ate more fiber generally strengthened their immune systems, those who incorporated fermented foods specifically saw a significant decrease in inflammation over the course of the trial. Scientists believe this is because they stop the activation of immune cells, which attack the body during an inflammatory response.
Researchers say that their findings back up previous research showing that a diverse microbiome is important for overall health, but it’s great to know that there’s a way to specifically target inflammation caused by it. “As we learn more about this three-way connection between the food-microbiota immune system, we may be able to use this knowledge to treat broad types of inflammatory disease,” explained Ken Cadwell, PhD, a professor at New York University Grossman School of Medicine. That’s good news for everyone!