The link between gut health and our general wellbeing is being explored at an increasing rate. This week’s Nutrition News covers a recent study that evaluates the effects of fermented food on gut health and subsequently, the immune system.

Read in full here.

Fermented food shown to lower inflammation

Fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir, cottage cheese and kimchi are known to support a healthy gut microbiome but a recent study has linked this to changes in the immune system as well.

According to researchers at Stanford School of Medicine, and as reported in Science Daily, following a diet rich in fermented foods leads to more diverse gut microbes and the decrease of molecular signs of inflammation. The study followed 36 participants over a 10-week period and split the group into two, one following a diet rich in fermented foods, the other high in fibre.

The researchers noted four types of immune cells showing less activation in the group following the fermented food diet and blood samples showed that 19 inflammatory proteins decreased. Christopher Gardner, PhD, the Rehnborg Farquhar Professor and director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said of the findings, "Microbiota-targeted diets can change immune status, providing a promising avenue for decreasing inflammation in healthy adults”.

The same changes were not seen in the high fibre diet group but the researchers believe that this may be the result of the limitation of the length of the study and that, perhaps, after the 10 week timeframe the microbiota might have adequately adapted to the increase in fibre consumption.

The link between nutrition and heart health

Heart health can be affected by a range of things, such as exercise and environment, but according to this recent article by Medical News Today, nutrition is the single most important factor. According to the paper, as many as 50% of cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths are due to food choices.

The study discussed in the article by Medical News Today supported many preconceived ideas around the types of foods that support heart health but it also uncovered some points of interest. One of the more surprising findings was that full fat dairy was not associated CVD risk factors. The research authors believe this may be due to the probiotic nature of dairy products and their effect on gut health, which, in turn, supports heart health.

Speaking of these findings, the researchers said, “The intake of probiotics plays an important role in improving the intestinal flora, favouring the growth of beneficial bacteria and reducing the risk of chronic illnesses, such as CVDs. In particular, probiotics have antioxidative, antiplatelet aggregation and anti-inflammatory properties, and may lower the level of cholesterol and blood pressure.”

It is worth noting that the researchers have made clear that they have a conflict of interest in this research due to funding sources.

The effects of selenium and manganese during pregnancy

Ensuring a balanced range of nutrients during pregnancy has always been considered vital for a healthy pregnancy but a recent study, reported by NutraIngredientsUSA, has found evidence to suggest that selenium and manganese specifically could be an important part of fertility and conception support.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health used data from the Boston Birth Cohort, which is one of the largest and longest running birth cohorts in America, to establish a link between a mother’s levels of selenium and manganese during pregnancy and their child’s risk of blood pressure into childhood. The study found that higher levels of these two trace minerals in the mother’s blood during pregnancy was linked with lower blood pressure readings in their offspring 3- 15 years later.

Previous research has suggested that the predisposition to hypertension can begin in the womb but this latest study gives supporting evidence and goes even further, suggesting that nutrition in mothers during pregnancy could also play a role. While the results are based on observational findings, the study gives grounds for further research to take place and establish causation rather than correlation.

Share your thoughts

Agree with the findings in this week’s Nutrition News? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is the Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.