Followers of kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha obtained excellent news just lately, as one European research appeared to indicate a diminished threat in mortality charges from COVID-19 related to the common consumption of fermented greens.
The research (which is a preprint of latest medical analysis and has but to be peer reviewed) in contrast COVID-19 loss of life charges in numerous European nations, correlating this knowledge with conventional fermented meals consumption in these nations. Researchers discovered that nations within the Balkans and Scandinavia that historically devour a excessive proportion of fermented meals – particularly fermented greens – had decrease COVID-19 loss of life charges than nations like France, the UK, and Italy the place these greens are much less often consumed. Threat of mortality dropped 35.four % for each gram per day improve within the common nationwide consumption of fermented greens.
“If the speculation is proved, COVID-19 would be the first infectious illness epidemic whose organic mechanisms are proved to be related to a lack of nature,” writes the crew, which concludes that shifting away from fermented meals might have “drastically modified” the human microbiome, facilitating the unfold and severity of COVID-19.
Specialists not linked to the research warning in opposition to leaping to conclusions following these preliminary outcomes, that are at the moment present process peer assessment.
“I feel that the connection between fermented meals and low mortality charges is simply pure coincidence,” says Dr. Giuseppe Aragona, Basic Practitioner & Household Physician at Prescription Doctor. “While some foods can help to support the immune system, this cannot stop it from affecting you entirely, or defeat it better.”
Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, nutritionist, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, and adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU, notes specifically that this study is “shows an association as opposed to a causation.”
“I can’t say that it’s a poor study,” she says. “However, it set out to show a correlation or association as opposed to cause and effect.”
This study is further complicated as it compares the average diet with mortality rates rather than the diets of the individual people who contracted the virus.
“What if the people who died hated fermented vegetables and just didn’t eat them?” says Dr. Nicole Avena, PhD, nutrition and health expert. “As a whole, some countries might consume these foods more than others, but the researchers don’t assess individual patients, so we know very little about the impact of diet on the disease based off of this correlative assessment. While the findings are interesting and preliminary, more research is needed before anyone should even begin to think that specific foods can have an impact on death rate from a viral respiratory infection.”
Alicia Galvin R.D., a Resident Dietitian for Sovereign Laboratories, agrees, noting that the study also neglected to explore other risk factors such as exercise rates and obesity rates.
“I don’t think we can say that if people just consume fermented foods that their risk of having adverse outcomes from COVID will go down. It has to be more of a comprehensive approach than that,” she says. “But what we do know is that the obesity rates of other countries like China are much lower than that of the United States. What we do know is that inflammation and obesity are huge factors in the mortality rate with COVID. So nutrition and overall diet quality does make an impact.”
She also notes that fermented foods can help manage oxidative stress and inflammation, which could theoretically reduce the severity of symptoms, a hypothesis echoed by Dr. Naveen Gupta, M.B.B.S, BSc and co-founder of website The Lifestyle Cure.
“Research indicates a link between alteration in the microbiome and changes in inflammation, immune response and development of lung diseases,” she says. “A less diverse gut microbiome has also been found in the elderly (which COVID has been particularly biased towards) as well many chronic diseases that are risk factors for COVID.”
This is echoed by Serena Poon, CN, CHC, CHN, a leading chef, nutritionist and reiki master.
“There are a lot of unknowns around COVID-19 and its symptoms, but based on the quality research conducted on fermented foods over the years, like this systematic review published in 2019, eating fermented foods to optimize health during this time would be safe to say,” she says. “I would caution against thinking that anything in your diet would make you completely immune to this virus. The goal is to keep the immune system healthy, balanced and optimal.”
Dr. Julia Skinner, founder and director of Root Kitchens, says it “seems to be a promising study at the forefront of what I’m sure will be a deeply explored topic in the years to come.”
Whether or not fermented foods are shown to actually reduce the risk of mortality as linked to COVID-19, they’re certainly good to include in your diet.
“A healthy gut keeps the digestive process working smoothly which prevents free radical and toxin build up in the body known to lead to many acute and chronic illnesses,” says Trista Best, a Registered Dietitian at Balance One Supplements. “It is also thought that probiotics secrete substances that trigger the immune system to react more strongly, thereby preventing pathogens from being able to take root and cause illness. All these, and more, make gut health an underrated tool in the overall protection against COVID and other illnesses.”
To add more fermented vegetables to your diet, consider these ten easy home ferments, embrace your own home-fermented kombucha, and pair homemade sauerkraut with your favorite salads, sandwiches and more.
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