Can fermented foods help your body get rid of toxins?
A study took a look at the of microorganisms in the degradation of the organophosphorus insecticide chlorpyrifos in kimchi, which is a fermented food.
During the fermentation of kimchi, the insecticide degraded rapidly until day 3, and had degraded completely by day 9. Four lactic acid bacteria were identified as being responsible for the effect.
According to the study, as reported by Green Med Info:
“[The bacteria] were identified as Leuconostoc mesenteroides WCP907, Lactobacillus brevis WCP902, Lactobacillus plantarum WCP931, and Lactobacillus sakei WCP904. [The insecticide] could be utilized by these four strains as the sole source of carbon and phosphorus.”
Optimizing your gut flora is one of the most powerful nutritional interventions you can implement to stay healthy. That is one of the reasons why removing sugar and processed foods from your diet help you so much in that they improve your gut flora. Ideally it is best to use fermented foods to help you repopulate the good bacteria into your bowel.
Kimchi is a fermented food that can help you improve your gut health. I don’t happen to enjoy it, but many do. It is a traditional Korean dish made from fermented vegetables and a spicy blend of chili peppers, garlic, scallions, and other spices. It’s common to find kimchi at almost every Korean meal, where it is served alone as a side dish, mixed with rice or noodles, or used as an ingredient in soups or stews.
There are many reasons, health-wise, to give kimchi a try if you’ve never had it — it’s rich in vitamins A and C, for instance. But what makes kimchi unique is its fermentation process, which leads to the production of beneficial lactobacilli bacteria. This is especially important for Americans who typically do not eat fermented foods like kimchi on a regular basis, as these beneficial bacteria offer numerous benefits to your health.
Kimchi Helps You Break Down Pesticides
Beneficial bacteria from fermented foods are commonly associated with digestive support, and this they do well. However, the lactic acid bacteria formed during the fermentation of kimchi may also help your body break down pesticides.
As reported in a study in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, the organophosphate insecticide Chlorpyrifos degraded rapidly during kimchi fermentation, and was over 83 percent degraded by day 3. By day 9, it was degraded completely.
Considering that pesticides are a pervasive pollutant found in your food and drinking water, natural methods that may assist your body in their detoxification are important. These man-made neurotoxic chemicals bioaccumulate in your body, as they resist breaking down in water and also accumulate and store in body fat, where they can remain for long periods of time.
In short, this means your body has a very hard time getting rid of them once they enter it, and once enough of these toxic chemicals get into a cell, they disrupt its function. For instance, Chlorpyrifos can cause cholinesterase inhibition in humans, which means it overstimulates your nervous system leading to potential symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, confusion, muscular tremors, and even difficulty breathing and death.
Other pesticides, such as Rotenone and Paraquat, are linked to increased risk of Parkinson‘s disease, and both are lipophilic, meaning they resist breaking down in water and accumulate in your fat. Both are also known to cross your blood-brain barrier.
Your best bet for minimizing health risks from pesticide exposure is to avoid them in the first place by eating organic as much as possible and investing in a good water filtration system for your home or apartment. However, including fermented foods like kimchi in your diet may also be a wise strategy to help detox the pesticides that do enter your body.
What Are The Other Benefits Of Fermented Foods Like Kimchi?
Although this study used kimchi it is likely that other fermented foods and high-quality probiotic supplements would provide similar benefits.
Your body receives help breaking down foods into their component parts from the organisms that live in your gut (intestinal flora). These bacteria, yeasts and fungi can produce beneficial waste products as they feast on your digesting food, such as B and K vitamins that your body needs. They also function to break down some foods that your body cannot absorb by itself (they change carbs into simple sugars and proteins into the component amino acids).
But when you eat too many grains, sugars, and processed foods, these foods serve as fertilizer for the bad bacteria and yeast and will cause them to rapidly multiply. In short, good bacteria that you take in, either from fermented foods or in supplement form, prevent the growth of less desirable ones by competing for both nutrition and attachment sites in the tissues of your colon. These friendly bacteria also aid digestion and nutrient absorption so that you’re able to get more benefit from the foods you eat.
In fact, without good gut bacteria, your body cannot absorb certain undigested starches, fiber, and sugars. The friendly bacteria in your digestive tract convert these carbohydrates into primary sources of important energy and nutrients. The list of conditions and diseases thought to be directly or indirectly related to a shortage of friendly gut bacteria is long and growing longer. It includes the following:
- Infectious diarrhea
- Intestinal infection caused by the Clostridium difficile bacterium
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease)
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterial infection, which causes ulcers and chronic stomach inflammation
- Leaky gut (a compromised intestinal wall that allows undigested foods and toxins to pass into the bloodstream, triggering an inappropriate immune system response)
- Lactose intolerance
- Post-surgical infections
- Urinary and female genital tract infections
- Atopic dermatitis (eczema) and acne
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Bladder cancer
- Tooth decay and gum disease
This is why one of the best things you can do for your health is ensure the balance of bacteria in your gut is optimized, and one of the best ways to do this is by eating fermented foods.
You Can Make Kimchi And Other Fermented Foods At Home
It is important to note that traditionally fermented foods are not the equivalent of the same foods in commercially processed form. So the best way to ensure you’re consuming the real thing is to prepare your own fermented foods at home.
Homemade fermented foods like kimchi are actually easy to make, and generally involve putting your veggies and spices into a jar or crock with salt and whey or culture starter, then pounding to release the juices and letting them sit for a few days. Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions cookbook has a variety of simple recipes for fermented foods, including kimchi, that you can make at home.
If you do not want to make your own, or you are unable to find quality fermented foods, then supplementing with a high-quality probiotic product will also serve the function of multiplying the “good” bacteria found in your digestive tract.
Tips For Avoiding Pesticides
Remember to best protect your health you should seek to avoid exposure to pesticides as much as possible, and one way to do this is to seek out organically grown food. If you have to choose only certain foods to buy organic, pick animal products first, as these will have a greater pesticide load if purchased non-organic, and then try to buy organic versions of these most highly contaminated fruits and veggies.
Also, unless you have well water that has been tested so you know it is safe and clean, then the water you use for showering, bathing, washing dishes, cooking, and drinking is likely to be contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, and other toxins. So I recommend you invest in a good water filtration system for your home to ensure you are drinking the purest water possible. Also consider a shower filter, because once these toxins found in your tap water are heated and become airborne in your shower, they cause more damage to your body through your skin and lungs than from drinking unfiltered water.
Finally, do not use synthetic pesticides in your home or garden, or in the form of insect repellant, lice shampoo, pet sprays or otherwise. There are safe and effective natural alternatives for virtually every pest problem you come across.
Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician, board-certified in family medicine. He has written two New York Times bestsellers and shared his expertise on ABC News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN, CBS, Fox News, and in TIME and Forbes magazines.
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