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Spicy is healthy - how herbs and spices support the gut microbiome

Researchers conducted a study to investigate if polyphenols could positively affect gut health — here's what they found.

Researchers from the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon investigated how polyphenols improve gut health. This study caught our eye, because kimchi, made from vegetables like cabbage and ginger, is also a polyphenol-rich food!

Here is a summary of this article by Medical News Today:

  • Polyphenols are compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties occurring naturally in plant-based foods (e.g. tea, fruits, vegetables, and chocolate).

  • Higher intake of polyphenols has been associated with higher levels of beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and lower levels of harmful bacteria and pathogens in the gut.

  • Polyphenols have been linked to a decreased risk of diseases such as stroke and diabetes. While prior studies have suggested that polyphenols can contribute to a healthy gut, human data has been missing to date.

  • This study analyzed the link between dietary habits and gut microbiota. It was found that subjects who consumed more polyphenol-rich foods — like cinnamon, black pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric — had higher levels of beneficial gut bacteria. 

  • Higher polyphenol intake exhibited increased levels of Lactobacillus, known for its role in intestinal health.

  • While the study provides preliminary evidence of the potential benefits of polyphenols for gut health, further research is needed to fully understand this relationship.


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