Benefits of kimchi beyond gut health
Fermented foods like kimchi are rich in probiotics. Eating fermented foods regularly helps maintain a healthy balance of your gut microbiome, and hence good gut health...but did you know the benefits go beyond the gut?
One small clinical trial demonstrated fermented kimchi rich in lactobacilli has an antihypertensive effect. 21 overweight participants diagnosed with prediabetes (mean age 45.9) consumed either 100 g of fresh/nonfermented or fermented kimchi per meal 3 times a day for 8 weeks. The only difference between the fermented and fresh kimchi was the pH and the number of lactobacilli; 6.5 vs 0.015 billion/ml.
The results showed systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly in the fermented kimchi group (126.5 to 119.9 mm Hg and 78.9 to 74.9 mm Hg, respectively). Additionally decreased insulin resistance and improved insulin sensitivity and β-cell function was also observed. The percentages of participants who showed improved glucose tolerance were 33.3% in the fermented kimchi group versus 9.5% in the fresh kimchi group. Though both groups had a significant decrease in body weight, BMI, and waist circumstance. This could be due partly to the increased fibre intake from 21.1 to 28.5 g/ day in both group.
A more recent lab study showed that extracts from the fermented kimchi (about 3-7 days old) administered to cells infected with the influenza virus H1N1 and H7N9 significantly reduced plaque formation meaning the growth of the flu virus had been inhibited.
So-Yeon, A. et al. (2013) Beneficial effects of fresh and fermented kimchi in prediabetic individuals. Ann Nutr Metab. 63(1-2):111-9.
Park, S. et al. (2018) Effects of heat-killed Lactobacillus plantarum against influenza viruses in mice. J Microbiol. 56(2):145-149.